Jewish Community Foundation Awards Cutting Edge Grant to a JQInternational and Eshel partnership  in Los Angeles

Funding Will Make Possible Initiatives Supporting Jewish Civic Life,

Arts & Culture, Human Services, and Continuity

September 9, 2015

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 JudaismSexual 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.”

There will be two introductory events coming up in the LA area during October.

The first will be a meeting of the Eshel LA parent group on Oct. 20th 7 – 9 pmSteve Greenberg

Address: Home of  Yisraela Hayman

1133 S La Peer Dr Los Angeles CA 90035 (corner Pico Blvd)

Meet Eshel Executive Director Rabbi Steve Greenberg as we kick off the first meeting for Orthodox and traditional parents and relatives of LGBTQ children.  This will be a confidential gathering for family members to discuss the challenges and joys of having an LGBTQ child in Orthodox circles.

Then on Oct. 21st from 7-9 pm there will be a gathering of the Eshel LGBTQ group

Address:  Home of Ben Goodman and Xavier Velazco

1632 N. Sierra Bonita Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046

Join Eshel for refreshments and a text study with Rabbi Greenberg entitled:

Six Heros and Scoundrels:

Portraits of LGBT Jews in Traditional Jewish Texts

Same-sex love, while surely hidden and formally decried, finds surprising expression in Jewish poetry, prose and case law. The material is full of pathos, gender bending, humor and intrigue and reveals a sliver of life, despite the well known prohibition, that has been all but erased from historical memory. We will meet six queer characters of Jewish history, some famous, others infamous whose stories will help us to make sense of the issue for today.

Please RSVP and send questions to

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