By Jane E. Herman
Throughout June from one end of the continent to the other, JCCs observed Pride Month, dedicated to celebrating and amplifying LGBTQ+ culture and supporting LGBTQ+ rights. Here’s a round-up of some of the many events and activities at JCCs that celebrated Pride and offered allies and supporters opportunities to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.
- The Tucson JCC, Arizona, in partnership with Jewish Philanthropies of Southern Arizona, held JPRIDE Shabbat Happy Hour to mark Pride Month. Open to all, the event demonstrated the J’s pledge to emphasize the value of creating a space for all people, including those with diverse identities and backgrounds.
- In Denver, the Staenberg-Loup JCC hosted these and other events during June: How to “Adult,” a program about sexual health basics; “Two Remain,” an opera about two Holocaust survivors followed by an educational panel; Pride Shabbat, including services and dinner; and participation in the Pride parade and PrideFest.
- This summer the Friedberg JCC in Oceanside, New York, is running Camp Ga’avah (Pride), a day camp for 6- to 17-year-old LGBTQ youth and their allies. Offering a safe space for young people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, campers participate in traditional camp activities, Jewish culture, and hear from LGBTQ+ speakers.
- In the San Francisco Bay area, the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, California, and the Peninsula JCC in Foster City, California, partnered to bring the comedy team of Jess Salomon and Eman El-Husseini to the community. Known as the El-Salomons, they “are a married Jewish-Palestinian lesbian couple who can never break up, because they can’t let people be right.”
- Further south, in San Diego, members and staff from the Lawrence Family JCC on the Jacobs Family Campus will march alongside other Jewish organizations and congregations in the San Diego Pride Parade in July. In August, the J will partner with TransFamily Support Services to host a community-wide training session focused through a Jewish lens on the experiences of trans families, allyship, and actions to promote LGBTQ+ equality.
- Among the Pride activities offered by the Marlene Mayerson JCC in New York City in June were a celebratory brunch preceding the NYC Pride parade and a conversation entitled “On Faith and Pride: Struggles + Opportunities for Orthodox LGBTQIA+ in Israel,” focused on those for whom an LGBTQIA+ identity may not be readily accepted.
- The JCC of Greater Boston, Massachusetts, hosted two Zoom listening sessions to hear from parents of LGBTQ-identified and questioning children. The information the parents provided will be critical in the fall, when the JCC launches a facilitated parent support group in partnership with Greater Boston PFLAG.
- At the JCC of Greater Baltimore, The Queer Jewish Arts Festival featured local, national, and international artists who are making art with Queer and Jewish content and examined the complexity of how we present ourselves and move throughout life. Included in the three-program series were a one-act drag play, a documentary film about trans Israeli teens, and another documentary about Orthodox LGBT people and the choices they make.
- Drag Queen Story Hour was one of the Pride events planned at the Shames JCC on the Hudson, in Tarrytown, New York. Such events offer glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models to young children, ensuring they see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and demonstrating it is okay to express their own authentic selves—whatever that may be.
- The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, Providence, presented an online event featuring Hila Pe’er, co-chair of The Association for LGBT in Israel, discussing how the LGBTQ+ community has changed public opinion in the country, including its achievements, what the future holds, and the role of community organizations in the struggle.
- Both the St. Louis JCC, Missouri, and the JCC of Greater Boston, Massachusetts, held Pride Shabbat picnics during the month, and members of JCC Chicago walked in the Buffalo Grove Pinta Pride Parade.
We hope your JCC community also marked Pride Month in a way that recognizes and upholds the JCC Movement’s commitment to build, nurture, and elevate a culture of belonging that welcomes, recognizes, and celebrates people of all abilities and identities in accessible and safe settings.
Jane E. Herman is the senior writer at JCC Association of North America. Email her at [email protected].