Former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and chair of the Jewish Federations of North American 2016 National LGBTQ Mission to Israel, Mr. Stuart Kurlander, says that the Mission, to begin this week, allows Jews in the LGBTQ community to see that they have a critical role to play in the Jewish community
The past year has seen marriage equality guaranteed by the US Supreme Court and the past decade has seen remarkable strides at home, as one state after another approved gay marriage and offered protections to gays and lesbians. Despite a well-publicized discriminatory law passed in North Carolina and efforts in other states to pass similar or other discriminatory laws against the LGBTQ community, a growing number of Americans clearly recognize that we are their family members, co-workers and neighbors and should be treated no differently from anyone else.
The strides in the Jewish community have been no less significant, with increasing numbers of Federations, synagogues and other groups reaching out to the LGBTQ Jews who in turn are feeling increasingly welcomed and included as part of their local community and in the broader organized Jewish world. Thanks in part to the work Federations have done in the past number of years to engage and include LGBTQ Jews, more LGBTQ Jews are becoming involved in local and national Jewish life than has been the case in the past. This progress enabled me to more easily identify leading LGBTQ Jews in their own communities as I was assembling the leadership team for this trip.
Despite all those positive changes, however, much work remains to create a fully inclusive Jewish community and more work remains for the broader LGBTQ community as we still face civil rights challenges and continue to fight for fairness and equality in the workplace and in all aspects of life. We share that battle and stand in solidarity with members of the LGBTQ community throughout the world, including with our fellow Israelis who continue their own struggle for greater LGBTQ rights. Whether it is the United States or Israel, or any – where around the world, we all must work to ensure equal rights for all.