LGBTQ+ Safe Zone

by Melanie Gruenwald

Kabbalah Experience is proud to be participating in the Denver-Keshet Leadership Project.

Keshet is a national organization which works for the full equality of all LGBTQ+ Jews and families in Jewish life. (Keshet means rainbow, in Hebrew.)

KE chose to make this year-long leadership initiative a priority, as it aligns with our value to be an inclusive and pluralistic organization. We serve a community of people who identify and Jewish and non-Jewish, Christians, Muslims, Sufis, Non Religious, Seekers, and more. The foundations of kabbalah are based in Jewish tradition, so this is the starting point for our core values, practices and education. While we always strive to do right and just work, we always benefit from more training, awareness, connections, and growth.

This week, I had the opportunity to attend Keshet training with Sarah Grope, a member of our Board of Directors, to learn more about how to make Kabbalah Experience a more inclusive and equitable organization.

At the workshop, we were able to:

  • Assess where KE sits on the Spectrum of Belonging—are we hostile, indifferent, tolerant, inclusive, or belonging? Based on the rubric, we self-assess as inclusive, leaning towards belonging. There is always room for improvement!
  • Develop an action plan for institutional change, addressing: programming, policy and culture at our organization.

While there are many steps we can take to be a more inclusive organization of belonging, we are also mindful of capacity and what goals are attainable and sustainable. I am pleased to share the goals we set.

Program:

  • Programming on LGBTQ+ Themes: Host a film or speaker as part of Pride month (June) and LGBTQ History Month (October)
  • LGBTQ+ Speakers and Presenters: Engage faculty and educators who identify as LGBTQ+

Policy:

  • Training: Bring a trainer to a Board meeting to raise awareness, knowledge, and mindfulness around LGBTQ+
  • Non-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies: While this is a no-brainer, we do not currently have formal policies for our students, teachers, Fellows, HR, Board, etc. in place to clearly state our policies and values with regard to non-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-bullying. We look forward to adapting already existing best practices to reflect the language and values of our organization.

Culture:

  • Outreach: Outreach to LGBTQ+ specific organizations and people to engage students, Fellows and faculty that represent the diversity of our community.
  • Resources: Increase resources by LGBTQ+ authors and Kabbalists in our physical library and on the Kabbalah Experience website.
  • Civil Rights: KE commits to responding to issues, current events, and tie them into our curriculum for the soul. We will also encourage students to develop ‘action plans for personal change’ to further affect change in our communities.

Our vision statement guides and inspires our day-to-day work at Kabbalah Experience:

Transforming individuals. Transforming communities. Transforming the world.

Kabbalah Experience has focused on DEI work over the past several years, and the LGBTQ+ community is part of this effort. We are strong allies of the LGBTQ+ community, and want you to know we stand with you, for you, and you are welcome at Kabbalah Experience, as your full self.

As we teach in our classes:

  • Individually- We all come from the same Ohr/ energy-light of creation. You, in all your you-ness are welcome here.
  • Communally- If we don’t understand the stories and narratives we live in, we don’t have the power to shape them for a more equitable future. Growth and change take time, intention and effort. We are honored to be on this journey.

If you are interested in connecting about this initiative, or helping us to manifest these goals- feel free to reach out to me directly.

You can learn more about Keshet here: https://www.keshetonline.org/

Warmly,

Melanie

 

4 Comments

Patty Howe · November 17, 2022 at 9:18 pm

I love the perspective. We are all one?!! Could we discuss this in our group? Thank you for sharing!!🙏🏻😊

    Melanie Gruenwald · November 18, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks, Patty. I’m so glad you are part of our community.

Gwendolyn Crawford · November 18, 2022 at 11:10 am

I am so proud to be a member of the KE community, and even more proud of the strides KE is taking.

    Melanie Gruenwald · November 18, 2022 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks, Gwen. Celebrating you!

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