Every year I sit down and write a Rosh Hashanah letter to the JQ community. I reflect on our accomplishments and ask for your help
to continue our vital and groundbreaking work in the LGBTQ and Jewish communities. Over the last year, JQ’s one-of-a-kind programing serving more teens, adults, and organizations in enriching and dynamic ways — from theLGBTQ and Ally Iftar-Shabbat
to JQ’s Persian Pride Programing
earned JQ several impressive acknowledgements and awards:
- Locally, we were thrilled to receive the Rainbow Key Award from our hometown City of West Hollywood in recognition of JQ’s outstanding contributions to the LGBTQ community.
- JQ International has been selected to cohort ten of the UpStart Accelerator – the Jewish community’s leading engine behind the success of innovative and diverse organizations.
- Among our accolades received on the national level, JQ is proud to be recognized by Slingshot, a resource guide to Jewish innovation and annual compilation of the most inspiring and innovative organizations, projects, and programs in the North American Jewish community today.
Who wouldn’t kvell, right?
This Rosh Hashanah feels different though. I mean really
different. While JQ has reached more teens, adults, and organizations than ever before, we know there is a weight on our community. Our JQ community members and the organizations we serve are experiencing the divisiveness in our country, as well as that which hits closest to home. For the first time, we struggle to find common ground with our friends and allies. With the racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism constantly in the news, dramatic tension pervades the air all around us, all the time. It feels like we’re surviving from day to day between vitriolic headlines of Jews expelled from the Dyke March
in Chicago to white supremacists marching in Charlottesville.
This constant expression of hate encourages conversations between disparate communities — all of whom feel threatened — while driving a deeper wedge between those who feel threatened and those who do not.
Recently, JQ joined with LGBTQ and Ally Jewish leaders from across Los Angeles to convene the Jewish LGBTQ Leadership Council (JLLC), a think tank and roundtable to address the disheartening events threatening our communities. The JLLC allows our leadership to meet and collaborate on overlapping interests and needs for our communities. While comforting to be together with a common purpose, we knew it was just the beginning for our mosaic of communities to form meaningful and collaborative responses to the events we’re experiencing.
With Rosh Hashanah upon us, it’s time for us to start anew. This is an opportunity for each of us to reach out to those whose opinions differ from our own. We need to hear each other and listen to what we have to say. If we continue to push people away whose opinions are different, we drive a greater wedge between us, feeding the divisiveness that has gripped our country.
An interpretation of a recent Torah portion in the Etz Hayim Torah commentary teaches us a valuable lesson: the whole community is greater than the sum of its parts. This commentary continues, “each individual Israelite may be flawed and imperfect, but when all of them join together, the strengths and good qualities of each are reinforced and magnified. This also teaches [us] that no one should say, it is not my responsibility. Everyone must do his or her [or their] share.”
This year for the High Holidays, I pledge to continue to be “out and proud,” to celebrate both my queer and Jewish identities, and at the same time to engage people with differing opinions. I may not persuade anyone to change their mind, but hopefully together we can learn to respect one another and respect our differences with greater compassion.
Now onto living these values in our beautiful JQ community, here are some amazing things on the horizon for JQ…
I could go on and on about the important, exciting, and groundbreaking programs we’re planning for this year. Please donate below to support JQ’s valuable lifesaving programs and services with a Rosh Hashanah gift! With a donation of any amount, we will gladly send a personalized Rosh Hashanah card to your family, friends, colleagues, or community members on your behalf.
Thank you for your continued support and generosity in making JQ’s growth and success possible.
Shanah tovah v’tikatevu,
For anyone who needs support processing painful experiences and feelings during this time, or advice on how to talk with someone you love and disagree with, call our anonymous, free, and confidential JQ Helpline