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Program Bank: LGBTQ Advocacy

The inclusiveness of revelation prompts us to ensure that our communities – congregational, local, state and national – are fully inclusive, extending the same rights to LGBTQ individuals as they do to everyone else. The discussion of inclusiveness in this guide has two levels: within a synagogue community and in the wider public arena. Those who already have considered gay and lesbian inclusion and rights could use the opportunity of Shavuot to begin a discussion about full inclusion and rights for bisexual and transgender individuals as well. Finally, congregations and families can advocate for LGBTQ rights on a local and national level.

Reform Movement Resources:                    

Additional Resources

Stay Informed About Local Issues and Take Action

Does your employer and/or congregation provide equal benefits to LGBTQ employees and their partners? Are domestic partners covered for healthcare and/or parental leave? Does your company engage in fair hiring practices? If not, advocate for workplace rights of LGBTQ individuals:    

  • Learn about policies in your workplace and congregation  
  • Write letters or emails to your state, national, and local elected officials 
  • Write letters to the editor of your local paper - contact the RAC for tools and tips (See the LGBTQ rights webage for contact information)                  

Put Together a Panel Discussion and/or Text Study on LGBT Issues as Part of a Tikkun Leil Shavuot                    

These sorts of educational programs can be a catalyst for creating a synagogue statement on LGBTQ issues that can then be used in press releases, letters to local newspapers or as a basis for future programs and advocacy. The congregation’s inclusion policies also should be clearly stated in membership materials. Panel discussions can also raise awareness about advocacy issues facing the LGBTQ community. These issues include hate crimes, discrimination, homelessness, anti-transgender violence and family issues, among others. Such a panel might also be followed by an advocacy action, such as letter writing.                                    

Join with Other Religious Groups in Interfaith Education and Action

  • Organize an interfaith coalition to take action on timely issues. For instance, the coalition could be on call to advocate for local and state LGBTQ-related legislation.

  • Write letters-to-the-editor in conjunction with other religious institutions

  • Coordinate rallies, letter writing campaigns and prayer vigils

Host a Safe Zone Training

Learn more about safe zones here.

Make Space in Your Congregation Available to Host Meetings of Jewish LGBTQ Groups

  • Create a space for LGBTQ Jews in your community to meet in a safe location. Many Jewish LGBTQ individuals have experienced rejection from and are distanced from the Jewish community. Providing a meeting space signals your synagogue’s commitment to the LGBTQ community.

  • Consider integrating the work of Jewish LGBTQ groups with the larger synagogue population. “Twice Blessed,” the LGBTQ outreach committee of Temple Beth El of Aptos, CA, realized that the events they hosted were attended mainly by LGBTQ Jews and their families and friends. The group broadened its focus to involve the entire synagogue community, hosting events such as a Chanukah Social Action Party, which is attended by a broad spectrum of the congregation.

Make connections to Pride Month

The month of June is LGBTQ Pride Month. Because Shavuot usually falls in late May or early June, our Shavuot holiday celebrations can be an opportunity to link with local Pride celebrations.

  • Sign up for Pride Parade
    If you live in a community which hosts a Pride celebration or parade, use the opportunity of Shavuot to explain your synagogue’s involvement in LGBTQ rights, perhaps at a Tikkun Leil Shavuot or in a bulletin article. Sign up a congregational delegation, either that night, through the bulletin or at the confirmation service. The confirmation class could march as a group in the Pride parade. Individuals can sign up family and friends to walk together.
  • Host a Pride Shabbat
    Regardless of whether the local community hosts a Pride celebration, your synagogue can host a special Shabbat dedicated to LGBTQ issues. Teach about the Reform Jewish perspective on LGBTQ rights, speak out against hate, learn about current issues, and demonstrate your support for the LGBTQ community and LGBTQ Jews.