Eshel on the West Coast
The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) announced that it has given a total of $1.5 million in Cutting Edge Grants to seven local nonprofit organizations for highly innovative programs that are intended to engage diverse segments of the Jewish community ranging from college students and senior adults to the LGBTQ population and interfaith families.
In a historic partnership with JQInternational and The Institute for Judaism, Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), Eshel has been awarded funding to do outreach to Orthodox institutions, families and individuals in the Los Angeles Area. This new partnership is designed so that all three partners can work together to conduct outreach to a typically difficult to reach population. Eshel is one of the leading Jewish organizations working on behalf of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people in the Orthodox world.
Says Eshel’s Executive Directors, Miryam Kabakov, “this is a tremendous opportunity to reach out to the Orthodox population of the greater Los Angeles area and we are grateful to The Foundation. We have received calls and emails from parents of LGBT children and individuals looking for community. There are individuals in difficult to reach enclaves of the Haredi community that find us by word of mouth and the internet. We hope to spread the word so they can.”
Eshel has a robust parent network of over 100 Orthodox parents across the nation who connect, share resources and mentor each other in navigating the often bumpy ride of having an LBTQ child in Orthodox community. Thus, the partnership will focus on community programming for LGBTQ Orthodox Jews and their families, and educational programs, including trainings at local day schools and providing a speakers’ bureau of Orthodox and formerly-Orthodox LGBTQ people.
Rabbi Steve Greenberg, also an Executive Director of Eshel, who has taught in the LA community says that we are likely to work with more Persian and Sephardic Jews in the LA area. The name Eshel refers to “Eshel Avraham,” the tamarisk tree under which the biblical Sarah and Abraham would welcome visitors. We hope to be that place where we can welcome Orthodox and traditional LGBT Jews and their families who have their own set of specific challenges when a child comes out.”