National LGBT activists to meet in Berkeley

A movement gets under way Sunday, June 27, as national and local groups focused on Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues arrive in Berkeley for a three-day conference.

Known as the “2010 LGBT Jewish Movement-Building Convening,” the conference will bring together more than 100 LGBT national and local organizations and congregations.

The conference will be led by three national Jewish LGBT organizations: Keshet, a Boston-based organization that works for inclusion of LGBT Jews in Jewish organized life; Nehirim, a New York-based nonprofit that builds Jewish LGBT community; and the Denver-based Jewish Mosaic – The National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

Several Bay Area leaders are helping to plan various events during the conference. Among other things, Rabbi Camille Angel of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav is ensuring that national leaders participate in Friday night and Saturday morning services at her synagogue in San Francisco.

“What’s exciting about this convention is that there are so many leaders and so much work being done in the realm of social justice work for LGBT communities,” Angel said. “But who will decide how to harness the money, the resources, the intellectual imagination and energy into something collective?

“We need to harness people’s visions in a way that can move us forward … so we can look back and say, ‘Here’s what we did.’ ”

Conference attendees will celebrate the success and growth of the Jewish LGBT movement while also identifying emerging needs and areas of potential collaboration.

Leaders of the gathering hope the Jewish  LGBT community can start to discuss becoming an actual movement and perhaps set some priorities for the Jewish gay sphere, including pushing same-sex marriage and more inclusion of transgender Jews, a segment that is marginalized even within the gay community.

“We’re in a generative, very rich time of potential and reform and there are lots of agendas within the LGBT world,” Angel said. “So what will be the Jewish agenda for us?” — j.  staff and wire reports