By Leah Jalfon, MHWOW Program Manager

When I started working for Moishe House Without Walls in 2017, I saw myself as a supporter of Jewish leaders rather than a Jewish leader myself. I also thought finding a community of queer Jews in Charlotte, North Carolina would be next to impossible. Over the past year and a half I’ve learned that there isn’t always going to be a community to find; sometimes you have to create it. Through MHWOW, I’ve started a group called Queer Jews of the Queen City, and it’s bumpin.

Queer Shabbat Dinner, Charlotte, NC

To the many other MHWOW hosts who are building queer community: we see you, and we appreciate you. If you identify as queer, make sure you join the Queer, Nonbinary, and Trans Moishe House Residents and Hosts Facebook group created by a Moishe House San Francisco resident.

June is Pride Month in the United States, so here are my 5 LGBTQ+ program ideas for you. Or, if you already have your programs planned, click here for tips on how to make your programs more queer inclusive.

1. A Text Study

Galadriel Goldberg-Vormès, Program Officer at the European Union of Jewish Students, created this awesome text study and discussion guide called LGBTQI…J! Gender in Jewish Texts – plus, it was created for Shavuot (which is June 9th this year) so the timing couldn’t be more perfect. It even includes a cheesecake recipe and lots of memes! You could do a series of programs based on this source guide alone.

2. A Shabbat Experience

OneTable’s Pride Shabbat Guide has what you need to lead a pride-themed Shabbat dinner from start to finish. Don’t miss the super cute Pinterest board with tons of rainbow recipes and decorations.

The RAC (Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism) also has great readings, sermons, poems, and more for your Pride Shabbat.

3. A Movie Night

Curl up with a good LGBTQ Jewish movie. I’ve heard good things about: Aimée & Jaguar,  Eyes Wide Open, The Times of Harvey Milk, Yossi, and Paper Dolls. I really liked Disobedience – it’s not cliche, and it doesn’t negatively depict of Orthodox Jews (which unfortunately is typical in Hollywood). Although it’s not a movie, Transparent (on Amazon Prime) is one of my favorite shows about a Jewish family with a transgender parent.

Source: Time Magazine

MHWOW can reimburse for movie rentals, a projector rental for an outdoor screening, or any other one-time-use essentials.

4. A Pride Parade

Jerusalem Pride Parade, 2016

There are many ways you can make a Pride parade into an MHWOW program. Keshet (which means “rainbow” in Hebrew), is an organization that works for full LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. Their Jewish Guide for LGBTQ Pride has printable stickers, inspiring blog posts, and tearjerker YouTube videos to get you pumped for pride. Here are my ideas, in a list within a list.

  • Talk about it! What’s it like to be queer and Jewish in your community? How does your pride in your queer identity differ from your pride in your Jewish identity? How does that manifest in your life? How can you support each other? Talking about your individual journeys can make marching together even more meaningful.
  • Volunteer! Tikkun Olam is a Jewish value, and Pride festivals require LOTS of volunteers for setup, cleanup, and more. Use MHWOW funds for brunch or snacks to keep your friends fueled for the day.
  • Make signs! Show that the Jewish community you’re creating through MHWOW is accepting. Last year when I volunteered with my Temple at Pride, I had so many people from different faiths ask me about what being openly gay in the Jewish community is like. I had some fascinating conversations!

5. A Queer Crafternoon

Source: Sharon Coleman

Getting together to create something is a low barrier and unique way to connect. You could ask your friends to bring something they’re already working on or prepare something for everyone. You could also make Judaica like mezuzzot, decorate kiddush cups, or tie-dye challah covers! Tbh I’m not really a crafting person, so I’d recommend you creatives crowdsource ideas in the MHWOW Facebook group.

Now that you have program ideas, click here to learn how to make those programs more queer inclusive. Cheers, queers!