Pride shabbat in Texas seeks to break down barriers to allyship

Jason Taper, a freshman student at the University of Texas, organizes a Pride Shabbat on May 6, so that LGBT Jews in the area can come and share their stories. The group will also host Imri Kalmann, co-chair of the Aguda

At Texas Hillel, we’ve made it a goal this year to make sure we include programming with other student groups on campus. We strongly believe in inclusion and allyship — that no one who wants to be a part of our community or who wants to work with us to make a difference is turned away, and that instead we welcome with open arms anyone willing to help. We’ve partnered with organizations this year, especially in the interfaith community, in the hope that by facilitating dialogue between diverse students, we can foster a culture of understanding that allows us to work together to achieve common goals, such as a more tolerant and just society.

So on May 6, we’re hosting a Pride Shabbat, starting with a discussion with an Israeli LGBT activist about organizing strategies and ending with Shabbat services, discussion and dinner. We want to invite anyone — Jewish, LGBT, both or neither, to join us as we focus on allyship and intersectionality. There is no one whose identity is affected only by his/her/their circle, and everyone benefits from shared experiences.

Historically, both Jews and the LGBT community have lived their own unique struggles and culturally defining moments, and we celebrate that. When smaller communities interact, we frequently discover that we had more in common than we previously could’ve imagined. The diverse community of UT-Austin sometimes finds it more comfortable to split into cliques and to attempt to make an insular experience out of our years here. But it is only when we step out of our comfort zones and awkwardly meet new people, appreciate new narratives and understand others’ lives that we truly grow.

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