Group seeks to become united voice for Jewish gays

By Jessica Elgot, February 24, 2011
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A new gay rights group aims to highlight issues in the community affecting gay parents, elderly gay couples and children from same-sex relationships.

Keshet hopes to expand to become a national voice for Jewish gays, widening the debate in the community beyond marriage and civil partnership issues. It has close links to Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group, Gay Jews in London and Beit Klal Yisrael Synagogue in Notting Hill.

Founders include Rabbi David Mitchell of Radlett and Bushey Reform Synagogue, a vociferous advocate for equal rights for the LGBT community.

For example, it wants an assessment of the provision of Jewish social activities for elderly LGBT singles and couples and the Jewish schooling needs of children from LGBT households. It will develop campaigns for communal organisations, particularly schools, youth movements, care homes and synagogues.

Co-ordinator Daniel Lichman said Keshet was "committed to challenging the ongoing prejudice and discrimination within the Jewish community, including investigating the experiences of Orthodox Jews who may, or may not, feel able to come out.

"We've found most Jewish organisations want to be inclusive but they aren't sure how to go about it. We know that Jewish schools won't necessarily know how best to proceed if there is a child with gay parents. I wouldn't say we encounter a lot of prejudice, mainly people just don't know how to adapt."

Mr Lichman added that "like our name, which means rainbow, we hope that by coming together we will be more visible and vibrant.

"It is this invigorating spirit of community and collaboration that will enable us to work together towards achieving greater equality for every colour and shade of LGBT Jew in the UK."

Last updated: 1:04am, February 25 2011