Sf bay area lgbt jewish 2010 executive summary community study
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Sf bay area lgbt jewish 2010 executive summary community study

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LGBT Jews are highly diverse in terms of age, gender, geography, identities, interests, social networks, and commitments. Many study respondents are already deeply engaged in Bay Area Jewish life......

LGBT Jews are highly diverse in terms of age, gender, geography, identities, interests, social networks, and commitments. Many study respondents are already deeply engaged in Bay Area Jewish life and have helped to transform Jewish organizations from within as staff, board members and clients or members. For other LGBT Jews, a lack of engagement with Jewish community does not mean lack of deep Jewish identity. LGBT Jews want to, and often do, incorporate aspects of their Jewish identities and Jewish culture into their lives, outside and beyond synagogue life, and they want more identifiable pathways to involvement and leadership opportunities.
The factors encouraging Jewish engagement (or not) mirror recent data about other subpopulations with the Jewish world, but LGBT Jews express these factors to a more pronounced degree. The respondents in this study suggest that some, but by no means all, LGBT Jews in the Bay Area have largely moved beyond the particulars of their sexual and gender identities as key ways to express being Jewish. Given how this population mirrors national trends but at higher levels, the trends and issues surfaced by LGBT Jews might be considered the bellwether of Jewish life in the United States.

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  • 1. JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION OF SAN FRANCISCO, THE PENINSULA, MARIN AND SONOMA COUNTIES JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION OF THE GREATER EAST BAY LGBT Alliance Study AN EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA LGBT JEWISH COMMUNITY DR. CARYN AVIV, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH 2010A study conducted by Jewish Mosaic: The National Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity
  • 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARYThe Bay Area is home to one of the largest and most diverse Jewish communities in the United States. In themost recent Bay Area Jewish Community Study, the Jewish population had doubled to nearly 228,000 since 1986,making it the third largest metropolitan Jewish community in the US (Phillips 2005).In that study, LGBT households comprised 8% of the Bay Area study’s population and were dispersed over theFederation’s service area. In light of the changing demographics of their local Jewish communities, the JewishCommunity Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties, and the Jewish CommunityFederation of the Greater East Bay recognized the need for a better understanding of Bay Area LGBT Jews, inorder to most effectively meet the needs of this emerging and important population.This Bay Area Jewish LGBT Needs Assessment Executive Summary documents:  the project’s research methods and planning process;  LGBT Jewish participant demographics;  major themes derived from the core questions of this study;  an analysis of gaps in currently offered programs and services;  policy implications that emerge from the research;  some conclusions about the Bay Area LGBT Jewish community in relation to wider trends in Jewish communities across the United States.CORE RESEARCH QUESTIONSThe central research questions that informed this study were to gain a more nuanced understanding of:  What is meaningful to LGBT Jews in terms of their Jewish identities;  The ways in which LGBT Jews currently interact – or not – with the organized Jewish community;  What LGBT Jews want and need from the Jewish community in terms of services, programs, and inclusion.Additionally, the study sought to gather information about Jewish organizations regarding LGBT-outreach andinclusion efforts, including LGBT-related programs, policies, and practices in the Bay Area Jewish community.RESEARCH METHODSThis study used one-on-one interviews and focus groups with a diverse sample of 100 LGBT Jews. For interviewsand focus groups, Jewish Mosaic developed a diversity matrix, using previous community studies and Censusdata, to select a broad and diverse sample of participants. Jewish Mosaic also developed an online survey, sent to221 Bay Area Jewish communal organizations, which gathered information about LGBT Jewish programs,policies, services, staff, and lay leadership. 125 agencies completed the survey. 79 of those agencies wereclassified as general Jewish organizations and 46 were synagogues. 45 general agencies and 51 congregations didnot respond to the survey.WHAT IS MEANINGFUL TO LGBT JEWS IN TERMS OF THEIR JEWISH IDENTITIES?LGBT and Jewish: There is no singular LGBT Jewish community in the Bay Area. LGBT Jews describe havingcomplex identities and a sense of allegiance to several communities. For some respondents, being LGBT isprimary, which influences their investment of time, energy, and money. Some LGBT Jews feel equally passionate 2
  • 3. about being both LGBT and Jewish, and participate in the Bay Area Jewish community through cultural events,synagogue engagement, political activism, and lay leadership. For some LGBT Jews in this study, being Jewish isnot important, and they do not necessarily feel a strong need to participate in the organized Jewish community.Homophobia and Transphobia: LGBT Jews do not report significant levels of homophobia or transphobia in theJewish community. Homophobia and transphobia do not seem to pose significant barriers that prevent interestor involvement in the Jewish community. This is possibly a reflection the general openness of the Bay Area.Dating, partnering, and forming families: Single LGBT Jews cite the limitations of the Jewish LGBT dating poolas influencing their choices. Finding a partner is important, but the Jewishness of a potential partner is lessimportant for younger LGBT Jews than compatible values and shared life goals. LGBT Jews who are coupled are1/3 more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to be in interfaith couples, and some non-Jewish partnersparticipate in Jewish activities, rituals, and community events. Interfaith couples workshops offered by Jewishorganizations do not target the unique needs/issues of LGBT couples. Lesbians 40 and older are more likely to bepartnered with other Jewish and cite that shared identity as very meaningful to them. Lesbian couples are farmore likely to have children compared to gay men, and they invest in the organized Jewish community throughsynagogue engagement and their children’s Jewish education. Jewish LGBT parents raising children want moreopportunities to meet other Jewish LGBT parents.Secular and Cultural Jews: Many of the LGBT Jews who identify as secular or cultural Jews say they don’t need orwant anything from the organized Jewish community. While they might be interested in intellectual or culturalprogramming with LGBT-related content that brings LGBT Jews together, they are not interested in programsthat are connected to Judaism as a religion or Jewish ritual.The Intersection of Israel and LGBT Identities: The strongest support of and connection to Israel was expressedby LGBT Jews over 50 (especially those with memories/family links to the Holocaust), and by younger LGBT Jewswho had high levels of Jewish engagement growing up and/or had visited Israel on a teen trip. Few LGBT Jews inthis study reported participating in Israel-related programs, events or activities in the Bay Area Jewishcommunity. When asked about their feelings regarding Israel, the majority of respondents said they felt detachedfrom Israel and that it didn’t play a significant role in their lives.HOW DO LGBT JEWS CURRENTLY INTERACT – OR DO NOT – WITH THE ORGANIZEDJEWISH COMMUNITY?Younger LGBT Jews: Younger LGBT Jews in this study are much more likely to be reading Jewish books,attending LGBT or Jewish films at film festivals, participating in a Passover seder, or getting involved inprogressive politics. Having a strong Jewish identity does not necessarily translate into mainstream Jewishcommunity engagement.Gender Matters: Overall, Jewish lesbians in this study tend to be more highly engaged Jewishly than gay men,across all age cohorts and in every Federation Service Area. Jewish lesbians participate through professionalcommitments and lay leadership. The few Jewish transgender respondents are engaged to some degree, butwant the Jewish community to move forward on transgender awareness and inclusion.Synagogue Engagement: 44 LGBT Jews in this study belong to synagogues, but fewer in San Francisco comparedto other counties. Older LGBT Jews, particularly lesbians, are more likely to belong to synagogues than youngerLGBT Jews. Many younger LGBT Jews ‘shop around’ at various congregations or occasionally ‘drop in’ to services(particularly around the High Holidays) without committing to paying membership dues. 3
  • 4. Perceptions of Barriers and Challenges: Many LGBT Jews in the study perceive that Jewish organizations thatoffer LGBT programming lump everyone together regardless of demographic, geographic, or personal diversity.LGBT Jews outside of San Francisco are aware of SF-based programs but cite traffic, access, time, and distance askey barriers to participation. These LGBT Jews would consider participation in more programs, events, andactivities if they were local, affordable, fun, and relevant. Few Jewish organizations advertise their events insecular LGBT press, and sometimes LGBT Jews don’t know where to find information about LGBT-relatedprograms.WHAT DO BAY AREA LGBT JEWS WANT AND NEED FROM THE JEWISH COMMUNITY INTERMS OF SERVICES, PROGRAMS, AND INCLUSION?Regionally and Demographically Targeted Programming: LGBT programming based on a "one size fits all"model does not meet some LGBT Jews’ needs. There is a preference for more demographically targetedprogramming that is local, convenient, and easily accessible. LGBT Jews want to see more specific marketingthat identifies what kind of LGBT Jews the programs are aiming to attract.More Identifiable Pathways to Involvement and Leadership: Some LGBT Jews in the Bay Area want to beinvolved in LGBT Jewish communal leadership, but they don’t know where, how, or through what venues. ManyLGBT Jews (across the spectrum of Jewish engagement) cited their participation in this study as a way ofengaging with the Jewish community.Senior Options for LGBT Jews: Older LGBT Jews are concerned about the ability of the Jewish community tomeet their needs, as aging Jews AND as LGBT people. They want affordable options for Jewish senior housingthat will be respectful and inclusive, and are worried about the stability of their financial futures.WHERE DO JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS STAND IN TERMS OF LGBT INCLUSION?The majority of the Bay Areas Jewish organizations are at least open to welcoming of LGBT people. But only aminority could be characterized as pro-actively and systematically inclusive in terms of the policies, practices, andprograms that signal greater LGBT participation. Those organizations that are not currently pro-activelywelcoming have little to lose and much to gain, in terms of potential constituents, visibility, and communitygoodwill, by making the transition to full inclusion.LGBT Staff, Board Members, Clients and Members in the Bay Area  A majority of general Jewish organizations and congregations have LGBT people on staff.  A majority of Bay Area agencies have LGBT board members.  28 general Jewish organizations and 7 congregations have made specific efforts to recruit LGBT board members.  45 general Jewish organizations (not congregations) have more than 5% LGBT members.  4 agencies report more than 30% LGBT clients or members.LGBT-Inclusive Language  27 out of 125 agencies use the words "gay and lesbian" and 12 use the words "gender identity."  Those agencies that DID report using inclusive language and inclusive non-discrimination statements also reported higher rates of LGBT members.LGBT Inclusion in Bay Area Congregations 4
  • 5.  51 out of 97 synagogues did not respond to the study.  11 out of 46 responding congregations offer programs or events targeting LGBT constituents.  22 out of 46 synagogues reported fewer than 5% LGBT members, and 8 synagogues reported more than 10% of their members were LGBT.  LGBT Jews who seek out participation in synagogue life are most likely clustering in congregations that are already known for being relatively welcoming and diverse.WHAT DO JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS OFFER IN TERMS OF LGBT PROGRAMS?  Thirty one general Jewish agencies across the Bay Area reported offering LGBT programs or events.  Agencies in the East and West Bay tend to offer more LGBT-related programs compared to the North and South Bay, particularly in terms of cultural and educational programs. South Bay agencies reported offering the fewest programs in the areas of cultural events, family programs, social action, and lifecycle rituals.  Cultural events related to LGBT issues or people are the most commonly reported types of programs, followed by educational programs. Lifecycle rituals are the least commonly reported type of programs.  Agencies with more than 5% LGBT members are TWICE AS LIKELY to offer targeted programs.  Five Jewish agencies have discontinued LGBT-related programs in the past 5 years, for various reasons, including: a lack of client interest/need; lack of funding; no staff with appropriate skill set or knowledge to plan/implement programs; and a shift in organizational mission or priorities.WHAT ARE THE GAPS IN SERVICES AND OUTREACH TO LGBT JEWS AND THEIR FAMILIES?Building Organizational Capacity: Respondents from Jewish organizations want and need help with resources(i.e., funding), training, marketing and outreach, and program development. They also want to ramp up theircapacity to signal to LGBT Jews (through a variety of channels) that they are welcoming, inclusive, and want LGBTJews to walk through their doors.What Might Be Offered? Regionally-based programming for targeted LGBT sub-populations, organizationally-based programming, and online resources. Regionally based programming might identify a specific group to offerprogramming where there is currently none. Organizationally-based programming could offer a range of LGBT-thematic programs and events to a wide variety of people. Several LGBT respondents didn’t know where a‘central address’ was located that offered comprehensive Jewish LGBT-related information, referrals, andresource materials online.More Identifiable Pathways to Involvement and Leadership: Some LGBT Jews in this study want to get involvedin the Jewish community, but are not sure where to turn, which organizations they might choose, and how theymight contribute.POLICY IMPLICATIONSThe following policy implications are elaborated on in the full report with several concrete suggestions for eachsubtopic. However, the key areas to consider for strategic policy planning are:  Acknowledge the diversity of identities and needs among LGBT Jews  Support community-wide programming that reaches every Federation Service Area  Provide comprehensive support for Bay Area Jewish organizations to become fully LGBT-inclusive 5
  • 6. CONCLUSIONSLGBT Jews are highly diverse in terms of age, gender, geography, identities, interests, social networks, andcommitments. Many study respondents are already deeply engaged in Bay Area Jewish life and have helped totransform Jewish organizations from within as staff, board members and clients or members. For other LGBTJews, a lack of engagement with Jewish community does not mean lack of deep Jewish identity. LGBT Jews wantto, and often do, incorporate aspects of their Jewish identities and Jewish culture into their lives, outside andbeyond synagogue life, and they want more identifiable pathways to involvement and leadership opportunities.The factors encouraging Jewish engagement (or not) mirror recent data about other subpopulations with theJewish world, but LGBT Jews express these factors to a more pronounced degree. The respondents in this studysuggest that some, but by no means all, LGBT Jews in the Bay Area have largely moved beyond the particulars oftheir sexual and gender identities as key ways to express being Jewish. Given how this population mirrors nationaltrends but at higher levels, the trends and issues surfaced by LGBT Jews might be considered the bellwether ofJewish life in the United States.LEARN MOREHundreds of leaders were actively involved in this strategic planning process, including lay leaders, academicresearchers, parents, nonprofit professionals, Jewish educators and rabbis. This process was made possible by thegenerous supporters of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund of San Francisco, The Peninsula,Marin and Sonoma Counties, the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay, Richard and RhodaGoldman Fund and the Walter & Elise Haas Fund. While this study, was conducted from 2008 – 2009 andpublished in 2010 by Jewish Mosaic: The National Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity, the organization has sincemerged into a National LGBT Jewish organization called Keshet (http://www.keshetonline.org).  Download this research: http://www.jewishfed.org/downloads/lgbt-needs-assessment.pdf  View it on the San Francisco based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Funds website: http://www.jewishfed.org/community/page/lgbt-alliance-study  Review it on the QJew blog: http://qjew.wordpress.com/aboutlgbtqjews/needs-assessment  Find it archived at The Berman Jewish Policy Archive at New York Universities Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service: http://bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=7461While the research for this study was directed by Dr. Caryn Aviv the entire strategic planning process including thestudy as a first step was overseen by the LGBT Alliance Planning and Advisory Group of the Jewish CommunityFederation of the Greater East Bay and the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund of SanFrancisco, The Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. Additional research and one-on-one interviews conductedby Federation staff Directors, Lisa Finkelstein and Samuel Strauss completed this broad-based communityplanning effort in order to inform Celebrating Distinctions, A LGBT Alliance Strategic Plan.  Download this publication: http://www.jewishfed.org/sites/default/files/Celebrating_Distinctions_A_Strategic_Plan_for_the_LGBT_Allian ce_2010.pdf  View it on the San Francisco based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Funds website: http://www.jewishfed.org/community/page/strategic-plan  Review it on the QJew blog: http://qjew.wordpress.com/aboutlgbtqjews/celebrating-distinctions  Find it archived at The Berman Jewish Policy Archive at New York Universities Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service: http://bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=7460 6