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The LGBTQ Synagogue / Community / Social Justice / Social Justice Blog

Regular updates on different social justice events and topics both in CBST and beyond, including Koleinu, our Congregation Based Community Organizing initiative, as well as our exciting work in building a Jewish LGBTQ movement.

Torah, Blintzes, and Queer Youth Homelessness

As the CBST community assembled for Tikkun Leyl Shavuot and prepared to receive Torah, we examined the epidemic of queer youth homelessness through a Jewish lens.  For me, the tikkun was inspiring as it created a space in which our religious practice and social justice work could come together, each informing the other.

Members of our Koleinu Marriage Equality & LGBT Rights Action Team led the first session.  Our text study, based on excerpts from the Book of Ruth, focused on the complex experience of journeying to or from a home -- what does it mean to have or not have ...

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LGBTQ Homeless Youth are Under Attack. CBST Fights Back.

LGBTQ homeless youth are under attack. CBST is fighting back. In November, Mayor Bloomberg cut $1.7M from city funding for LGBTQ homeless youth. CBST fought back by speaking at a public hearing, attending rallies, creating an online petition with hundreds of signatures, and holding a meeting with the mayor’s office to tell them that CBST would not stand for these cuts.

More recently, Gov. Cuomo, despite his support of marriage equality, cut funding to services for LGBTQ homeless youth by 50%, a violently disproportionate cut. As Carl Siciliano , Executive Director the Ali Forney Center writes:

 “In 2007, $6.8 million ...

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Suicide is Complex, Love is Simple

The good news is that the great majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth are mentally healthy and resilient.  The sad news is that recent headlines of several suicides by gay (or presumed to be gay) teenagers has been a tragic reminder that many LGBT youth face family rejection, physical and sexual abuse, constant bullying, and isolation.  These highly stressful situations often contribute to depression, exacerbate depression, lead to, or increase, drug and alcohol use, eating disorders, anxiety, low self-esteem, and hopelessness - all of which tend to increase suicidal behavior.

There are currently no statistics available for completed suicides ...

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Oppose Cuomo's Budget Cuts to LGBTQ Youth Shelter Beds--take action with Koleinu!

Act now to support LGBTQ youth in New York City!

While CBST helped stop the city's  budget cuts to LGBTQ youth homeless services at the end of 2010,  Now the state  has proposed to eliminate all financial support for beds for LGBTQ homeless youth. Stand up with CBST and tell Albany this is unacceptable!

Call Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (518) 474-8390, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver: (518) 455-3791, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos: (518) 455-3171

"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm a member of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. As a member of the adult LGBTQ community and as a Jew, it is unacceptable to me that their ...

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CBST Got Reel About Youth and Gender

Last night, CBST, in collaboration with the JCC Manhattan, Keshet, Ma’yan, PFLAG NYC, ScenariousUSA, and Gender Spectrum, hosted a program at the JCC called, “Getting Reel About Youth and Gender” with about 30 attendees who braved the cold, slushy snow.

Looking starting with definitions of gender identity, gender expression, sex, and sexual orientation, the group walked through importance of understanding the differences that exist among these categories and how they intersect to produce different identities.

We then looked at a series of videos about gender non-conforming youth and their parents. Perhaps most compelling was the story of a 12 year old named ...

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Koleinu Takes it to the Mayor's Office

On the snowy afternoon of December 29th , Koleinu members, Jeremy Schwartz, RoseAnn Hermann, George Hermann, and I with Social Justice Coordinator Alex Weissman, gathered in a bustling Starbucks to prepare for our meeting with Bill Heinzen, Deputy Counselor to Mayor Bloomberg. 

The purpose of the meeting was to deliver CBST’s petition with 352 signatures that we collected in a week, protesting the Bloomberg administration’s proposed $1.7 million cuts in funding for LGBTQ homeless youth services and demanding an alternative way to balance the budget that does not rest on the backs of LGBTQ youth.

Heinzen was well informed on the issues, ...

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Bloomberg's Budget Cuts Fly in the Face of All that is Jewish

This Tuesday, I joined Koleinu members on the steps of City Hall in solidarity with the Ali Forney Center and LGBTQ homeless youth to protest Mayor Bloomberg’s announced budget cuts to runaway and homeless youth services by $1.6 million -- an action that flies in the face of everything we as Jews believe in .

New York City has an estimated 3800 homeless youth, with approximately 40% of them identifying as identify as transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or queer.  There are currently just 75 shelter beds for LGBTQ youth  in this city, and that number is about to drop.

Under these cuts, ...

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We thought you might want to see the message we're sending directly to the Mayor...

To Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mullgrav,
We, the undersigned members of the Commission on LGBTQ Runaway and Homeless
Youth, are writing to express our concern and alarm at the recently announced
cuts in DYCD support of Street Outreach and Drop-In Centers in FY11 and FY12  -
cuts that have followed shortly on the heels of previous cuts made to Out of
School Time (OST) funding that effectively ended DYCD funding for to LGBT
youth-serving ...

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CBST Stands with LGBTQ Homeless Youth

Over the past year, CBST has become increasingly involved in addressing the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness. Rabbi Kleinbaum served on the New York City Commission on LGBTQ Runaway and Homeless Youth  and Koleinu’s LGBT Rights Action Team began meeting with organizations like FIERCE, the Ali Forney Center, and the Hetrick-Martin Institute to build relationship with these organizations and learn more about the underlying issues causing the epidemic. CBST also organized and hosted our annual Martin Luther King Multifaith Celebration around this issue and collaboratively developed mutlifaith liturgy to express our religious and spiritual concerns and hopes for the ...

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Honoring Matthew Shepard's Memory

Twelve years ago today, Matthew Shepard lay in a coma at Poudre Valley Hospital after being beaten, tortured, and left tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyoming. The following morning, a cyclist found him, thinking that Matthew was a scarecrow. Matthew died in the hospital on October 12, 1998--a day after National Coming Out Day.

Now with the rash of LGBTQ youth suicides captured in the media, we are painfully reminded of the fragility of queer life and left wondering how many other queer youth are being bullied, harassed, and outed? The numbers are high.

This Tuesday, on the 12th anniversary of ...

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