-      First Annual Conference onJews, Gender, and Sexuality       University of San Francisco              Spring 2012   ...
TABLE OF CONTENTSI. SummaryII. RationaleIII. Conference ThemesIV. Conference StructureV. Why at USFVI. Community PartnersV...
pushing the boundaries of gender and sexuality have emerged, such that this is now a tangible phenomenon.In addition, Augu...
In short, when stacked up against male-oriented (and heterosexually perceived) Jewish scholarship ofthe last two millennia...
American-based organizations focusing on supporting and raising awareness of LGBTQIQ Jews were founded,including Keshet (1...
Jewish Sabbath, also known as Shabbat, will be less formal than those conducted on Thursday and Friday.The ‚Scholarship‛ c...
V. Why at USF          In order for issues related to LGBTQIQ Jews to be taken more seriously—academically,professionally,...
Professional Training. We will partner with the Jewish Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula,Marin and Sonoma Countie...
Aside from the World Congress, though some non-religious Jewish American organizationsprogressed toward equality for LGBTQ...
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Jews gender and sexuality conference (usf jewish studies and social justice program) 1 23 11 without detailed budget

  1. 1. - First Annual Conference onJews, Gender, and Sexuality University of San Francisco Spring 2012 Updated 1.23.11
  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTSI. SummaryII. RationaleIII. Conference ThemesIV. Conference StructureV. Why at USFVI. Community PartnersVII. Additional Background on Jewish Americans, Gender and Sexuality, and Equal RightsVIII. BudgetI. Summary In spring 2012, the University of San Francisco Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justicewill host the first annual conference on Jews, Gender, and Sexuality, scheduled to take place from Thursday,March 8 through Monday, March 12 (alternatively it will take place Thursday, February 16 through Monday,February 20). The conference will have three main themes: (A) Scholarship, (B) Professional Training, and (C)Gender and Sexuality Movement Building. The conference will serve as a hub for the dissemination ofscholarship relevant to Jews, gender, and sexuality, while also significantly raising participants’ awarenessregarding issues related to gender and sexuality, particularly within the Jewish American community. Inaddition, this conference will help establish the reputation of the University of San Francisco as an importantand relevant academic institution committed to Jewish Studies, the Jewish community, education, socialjustice, and human rights.II. Rationale Though the Jewish feminist movement was established some four decades ago, Jewish women arestill outliers among major Jewish institutions. It was not until 2010, for example, that a woman was given theopportunity to serve as the Executive Director of a Jewish Federation, arguably the archetypal JewishAmerican institution. As for the inclusion of Jews identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer,intersex, and/or questioning (LGBTQIQ), such voices still remain on the margins. Based on Americanrabbinical schools alone—the most liberal of which did not begin to ordain female rabbis until the 1970s, didnot begin to accept openly gay and lesbian students until the mid-1980s, and did not accept openlytransgender rabbinical students until 2003—it is fair to say that the awareness of the Jewish Americanestablishment regarding gender and sexuality issues is nascent. Issues related to gender and sexuality are notpart of the Jewish American community’s normative discourse. When such issues arise they are either notintegrated into the social structure of the community or they are seen as provocative and are subsequentlyignored. There is still a great deal of work to be done in the Jewish American milieu in order for people to beaccepted into this community regardless of their gender and/or sexuality. Professional training related to theseissues is critical for most professionals in the Jewish community as this the serious engagement with relatedscholarship. This all said, like most social movements, ideas related to gender and sexuality are moving theentire Jewish American community toward a place of heightened awareness vis-à-vis identity, intra-communal self-exploration that is ahistorical and unprecedented. In the past ten years scholarly Jewish texts 2
  3. 3. pushing the boundaries of gender and sexuality have emerged, such that this is now a tangible phenomenon.In addition, August 2010 saw the first organized movement building conference of the LGBTQIQ communities. A conference focusing on the three themes of scholarship, professional training, and movementbuilding will strengthen each track while simultaneously exposing those connected to just one of theseinterests to those they would not otherwise have an opportunity to explore. Further, by integrating these threethemes the idea of equality regardless of gender and sexuality will be mainstreamed in a way that dividing thethemes up would not allow.III. Conference Themes Scholarship. Though isolated books appeared much earlier, scholarship related to Jewish Women’sStudies largely began to solidify as a genre in the early 1990s through such monumental texts as JudithPlaskow’s Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective (1991). Plaskow’s book was followedby other texts, such as Miriam Peskowitz’s and Laura Levitt’s Judaism Since Gender (1996) and DanielBoyarin’s Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man (1997). Someten years after Plaskow, other important books continued to be published, such as Judith Hauptman’sRereading the Rabbis: A Woman’s Voice (1998), Rachel Adler’s Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theologyand Ethics (1999), and even Danya Ruttenberg’s Yentls Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism (2001).These works broadened the canon of Jewish scholarship in a consequential way, re-approaching the Jewishtradition by taking non-male perspectives into account, and thus ensuring that the ‚female voice‛ in theJewish academic community would no longer be ignored. Over the last decade, the canon was widened to include additional marginalized voices, specificallythose from and/or focusing on LGBTQIQ Jews. Texts appeared such as David Shneer’s and Caryn Aviv’sQueer Jews (2002), Daniel Boyarin’s, Daniel Itzkovitz’s, and Ann Pellegrini’s Queer Theory and the JewishQuestion (2004), Steve Greenberg’s Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality and the Jewish Tradition(2005), Marla Brettschneiders The Family Flamboyant: Race Politics, Queer Families, Jewish Lives (2006),Warren Hoffman’s The Passing Game: Queering Jewish American Culture (2009), and Joshua Lessor’s,Gregg Drinkwater’s, David Shneer’s, and Judith Plaskow’s Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on theHebrew Bible (2009). In 2010 scholarship related to this genre reached new heights, with Noach Dzmura’sBalancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community, Miryam Kabakov’s Keep Your Wives Awayfrom Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires, Yoel Kahn’s The Three Blessings: Boundaries, Censorship,and Identity in Jewish Liturgy, and Andrew Ramer’s Queering the Text: Biblical, Medieval, and Modern JewishStories. Important films also appeared during this same time, such as Simcha Dubowski’s Trembling BeforeG-d (2001) and Irena Fayngold’s Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School (2005). In addition, sociologicalstudies examining gay and lesbian Jewish Americans were published, such as Steve Cohen’s ‚Gay, Jewish, orBoth? Sexual Orientation and Jewish Engagement‛ (2009) and ‚Gays, Lesbians, and the ConservativeMovement: The JTS Survey of Conservative Clergy, Students, Professionals, and Lay Leaders‛ (2007), as wellas the San Francisco Jewish Federation’s 2010 study ‚LGBT Alliance Study: Needs Assessment of the SanFrancisco Bay Area LGBT Jewish Community,‛ conducted by Caryn Aviv. Other research focused on gender-related and sexual-related issues within the Jewish community, such as those regularly conducted byAdvancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community, is equally integral to this field. 3
  4. 4. In short, when stacked up against male-oriented (and heterosexually perceived) Jewish scholarship ofthe last two millennia, the Jewish community has only just begun to include voices from and studies on Jewswith broader gender and sexual identities. Professional Training. According to the 2010 ‚LGBT Alliance Study,‛ when compared with fifty yearsago, American Jews are re-creating what it means to be a Jew today in distinct ways. ‚The ‘traditional’ waysof identifying, measuring, and counting how Jews participate in Jewish life (such as marrying other Jews,joining synagogues, and religious observance) are declining. Noted scholars of American Jewish life haveobserved a shift in ‘doing and being Jewish’—away from affiliating with traditional Jewish institutions such asJewish community centers, Jewish federations, and synagogues, and more towards personal and spiritualexpressions of Jewishness (Cohen and Eisen 2000, Cohen and Hoffman 2009).‛ There are two generalchoices that Jewish institutions and the professionals than run them have in dealing with this fact: re-shapetheir organizations to meet the needs of younger generations of Jewish Americans or try to ‘fit’ these youngerJews into previous molds of what it meant to be a Jew. In either case, however, such professionals need agreat deal of training in terms of the new landscape of Jewish Americans. But when specifically focusing on gender and sexual variances among Jews, generally speakingJewish professionals do not know where to begin. Further, although most San Francisco Bay Area Jewishorganizations, for example, are open to welcoming ‚LGBT‛ Jews, the ‚LGBT Alliance Study‛ asserts that onlya minority can accurately be characterized as ‚pro-actively and systematically inclusive in terms of thepolicies, practices, and programs that signal greater LGBT participation.‛ There are a number of ways Jewishorganizations can improve upon being more inclusive of women and LGBTQIQ Jews. In fact, most of themainstream Jewish organizations included in the study that they ‚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 wantLGBT Jews to walk through their doors.‛ The study communicates that a majority of Bay Area Jewishorganizations do not know how to create such programs. Further, it states, ‚given how this population mirrorsnational trends but at higher levels, the trends and issues surfaced by LGBT Jews might be considered thebellwether of Jewish life in the United States.‛ By creating formal training for professionals working in BayArea Jewish communities (and beyond), with a particular focus on heightened gender and sexual awareness,such individuals will likewise strengthen their work in conducting outreach to the Jewish American communitybroadly speaking. This will undoubtedly affect the larger American milieu as well. In other words, although the Jewish Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and SonomaCounties is the first Federation in the country to hire a female Executive Director (2010) and one of the onlyFederations in the United States with an LGBT Alliance, let alone one with a paid Director on staff, there is agreat deal of work to be done in raising the awareness of Bay Area Jewish institutions, as well as schools andsynagogues, about issues related to Jews who have been marginalized in relation to their gender andsexuality. Movement Building. According to the ‚LGBT Alliance Study,‛ many ‚LGBT Jews‛ in the San FranciscoBay Area ‚perceive that Jewish organizations that offer LGBT programming lump everyone together regardlessof demographic, geographic, or personal diversity… These LGBT Jews would consider participation in moreprograms, events, and activities if they were local, affordable, fun, and relevant.‛ The LGBTQIQ movement has emerged beyond the confines of academia and pop culture, and hasbegun to change the landscape of Jewish professional settings. Over the last ten-plus years a number of 4
  5. 5. American-based organizations focusing on supporting and raising awareness of LGBTQIQ Jews were founded,including Keshet (1996), the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at Hebrew Union College-JewishInstitute of Religion (2000), Jewish Mosaic: The National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (2003),Nehirim: GLBT Culture and Spirituality (2004), and NUJLS: The National Union of Jewish Lesbian, Gay,Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Students, which merged with Nehirim in 2010. This past year also saw amerger of two of these same organizations, Jewish Mosaic and Keshet. During this same ten-plus yearperiod, the website www.transtorah.org was also established. In addition, two transgender rabbis wereordained and the first siddur (Jewish prayer book) aimed at being inclusive of LGBTQIQ Jews was produced,compiled, and published by Congregation Shaar Zahav, a progressive Reform synagogue located on the edgeof the Mission district in San Francisco. Perhaps most notably (as related to this conference theme), August 2010 saw the first nationalgathering of the major Jewish American communities connected to LGBTQIQ issues aimed at creating amovement, a multi-day conference that included senior leaders of LGBT-identified synagogues, national andlocal LGBT-identified Jewish organizations, and representatives of key foundations and organizations workingthroughout the United States. Held in Berkeley, California, and unaffiliated with any local educational (and/orsocial justice organizations), such as the University of California, Berkeley, the conference was a good start.As with all movements in a preliminary phase, much more work needs to be done.iV. Conference Structure Conference Structural Framing. In order for issues related to LGBTQIQ Jews to be taken moreseriously—academically, professionally, and socially—there needs to be a connection between what is takingplace on the periphery and what is taking place in the center (i.e., the mainstream). One of most importantcomponents of the tipping point f all movements is when there are partnerships made with allies, especiallythose perceived as normative. In this case, the Jewish community will move past gender and sexualityinequalities when LGBTQIQ individuals have formed long-term partnerships with those who may not identify asLGBTQIQ. There is a profound power in having the first annual Jews, Gender, and Sexuality conference at aschool not necessarily known for supporting such issues, especially when sponsored by a reputable JewishStudies program. USF has an excellent reputation, and unlike a school such as the University of California,Berkeley, this Jesuit Catholic school cannot be dismissed as a place where such conferences arecommonplace. Each of the conference’s three themes could stand on its own. However, by combining these threadsinto a single conference (a) each focus takes on a greater level of importance; (b) the connection between thethreads becomes explicit, thereby making the relation between them unequivocal; (c) people who would onlygo to an event that centered on one of the threads will have the opportunity to explore all three; (d) cross-fertilization between the threads will take place, undoubtedly leading to a strengthening of the overall themes;(e) ideologically marginal organizations will network with more normative institutions, and vice versa; and (f)people who would not otherwise interact with one another will have the opportunity to do so. Conference Division of Time. The ‚Movement Building‛ component of the conference will take placeon Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Formal parts of this track will take place on Thursday and Friday at USF,whereas Friday evening through Saturday evening participants in this track will have activities arranged inpartnership with Congregation Sha’ar Zahav (290 Dolores St., at corner of 16th). Activities taking place on the 5
  6. 6. Jewish Sabbath, also known as Shabbat, will be less formal than those conducted on Thursday and Friday.The ‚Scholarship‛ component of the conference will begin Saturday evening with a keynote address deliveredon campus. Thereafter, this track will be run on Sunday and Monday, on the USF campus. The ‚ProfessionalTraining‛ component will take place at USF on Sunday as well, but will only be one day. Whereas ‚MovementBuilding‛ and ‚Scholarship‛ track participants will draw from all over the world (though primarily the UnitedStates) the Professional Training participants will focus on people working at Jewish institutions in the SanFrancisco Bay Area (e.g., Jewish federations, Hillels, Jewish community centers, private day schools, privateafternoon ‘Hebrew’ schools, synagogues, etc.). A brief timeline of the conference will be as follows: Time of day Location Track(s)Thursday: morning USF Movement Building afternoon USF Movement Building evening USF Movement BuildingFriday: morning USF Movement Building afternoon USF Movement Building evening Cong. Sha’ar Zahav Movement Building/ShabbatonSaturday: morning Cong. Sha’ar Zahav Movement Building/Shabbaton afternoon Cong. Sha’ar Zahav Movement Building/Shabbaton evening USF Conference Keynote SpeakerSunday: morning USF Scholarship & Professional Training afternoon USF Scholarship & Professional Training evening ScholarshipMonday: morning USF Scholarship afternoon USF Scholarship evening USF Scholarship Conference-Planning Timeline. Upon solidifying institutional partnership and space with USF andCongregation Sha’ar Zahav, followed by concretizing other partners (see Section VI, Community Partners), wewill raise financial support for a Conference Coordinator. Aside from this individual, there will be three to fourindividuals assigned to each of the three tracks. In addition, there will be an executive community includingone chair from each track committee as well as additional stakeholders, including the Director of the USFJewish Studies and Social Justice program, Aaron J. Hahn Tapper. The ‚Movement Building‛ track, forexample, will be run by Keshet, whereby the ‚Scholarship‛ track will be run by a group of academics. Participants. We estimate that there will be 350 participants at the 2012 conference, roughly 100committed to Movement Building, 100 to scholarship, and 150 to Professional Training. As all three tracksare integrated, many of these individuals will participate in more than one track. 6
  7. 7. V. Why at USF In order for issues related to LGBTQIQ Jews to be taken more seriously—academically,professionally, and socially—it is imperative that a conference that combines scholarship, professionaltraining, and movement building be established at a reputable educational and social justice-orientedinstitution, preferably one that is also academic in orientation. It is critical that the host of this conference hascredibility, a positive reputation, a commitment to intellectual and personal growth, and a commitment to theideals of inter- and intra-communal progress. There is no better host for this summit than the University ofSan Francisco as we embody these criteria. In addition, USF is located in the American city most renowned forgrowing the LGBTQIQ movement nationally. This conference reflects numerous elements of our Jesuit Catholic, Ignatian ethos, which lies at thecore of USF’s mission. (1) This gathering is predicated upon the idea that God resides in all human beings,and that through interaction the ‘god within the other’ will be found. (2) By having scholarly, professional, andpersonal conversations, our participants will witness the ‘other,’ thus, helping humanize one another. (3) Theconference is based on a holistic approach to social justice progress whereby the components of scholarship,professional training, and movement building will be integrated, thereby including, but not limiting, theconference to intellectual, moral, spiritual, affective, aesthetic, physical, and social progress. (4) Theconference will move the LGBTQIQ and non-LGBTQIQ Jewish American community toward its potential, whichno doubt will have a positive effect on the larger American society. (5) Embedded in the ethos of thisconference is a commitment to faith that works for justice in the Jewish American community and the world atlarge. As such, this conference necessarily seeks an engagement with all of those who are prevented fromfulfilling the divine purpose of full integration by oppressive social systems and unjust structural realities. Runthrough USF’s Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice, this conference will become a beacontoward equality for LGBTQIQ individuals in the Jewish American community and beyond. This will strengthenthe Jewish American community and re-focus this community on the fundamental ethic of equality. (6) Finally,as stated, there is a certain power in having this conference hosted not at the University of California,Berkeley, for example, an institution that would be expected to host such an event due to its ‘left-leaning’historical reputation, but rather by having it hosted by a Jesuit Catholic school. The strongest way tomainstream such social justice issues as gender and sexuality equality is by having normative and non-stereotypical institutions focus on such ideas. There is a profound power in having people not expected tosupport particular causes to spearhead such movements, especially those who embody dominant identities.Only once centrist individuals and/or institutions enact a particular ethos can it become integrated intonormative society.VI. Community Partners Scholarship. Aside from USF’s Jewish Studies and Social Justice Program, we will partner with theJewish Studies programs at the following Bay Area schools: San Francisco State University, Santa ClaraUniversity, Sonoma State University, Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University ofCalifornia, Davis, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. In addition we will partner with Hebrew UnionCollege’s Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation, and we will partner with other national Jewish Studiesprograms located in North America. 7
  8. 8. Professional Training. We will partner with the Jewish Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula,Marin and Sonoma Counties; in particular their ‚LGBT Alliance.‛ In addition, we will partner with all of the SanFrancisco Bay Area’s local community centers (i.e., Jewish Community Centers or JCCs), schools, andsynagogues, and the East Bay and South Bay Jewish Federations. Movement Building. We will partner with Keshet, Nehirim, national LGBTQIQ synagogues, and theWorld Congress of GLBT Jews, Keshet Ga’avah.VII. Additional Background on Jewish Americans, Gender and Sexuality, and Equal Rights Jewish Denominations and LGBTQIQ Jews. The first gay and lesbian synagogue, Beth ChayimChadashim, was founded in Los Angeles in 1972, followed by the establishment of New York City’sCongregation Beth Simchat Torah one year later. No doubt in relation to the emergence of these synagogues,in the 1970s and 1980s Jewish American organizations first began to publicly issue communal responsesrelated to LGBTQIQ Jews, both positive and negative in nature. For example, in the early 1970s the mostliberal of the three main Jewish denominations, the Reform movement, took a stance against the formation ofgay and lesbian synagogues while saying gays and lesbians should be welcomed into synagogues in general,while at this same time the first gay and Lesbian synagogue, Beth Chayim Chadashim was accepted into theirmovement; in 1977 this same movement publicly called for an end to legal discrimination against gays andlesbians; in 1982 they stood up in favor of gay and lesbian converts; and in 1985 they declared opposition togay and lesbian Jewish marriages. Though neither the Conservative movement nor any Orthodox communitiesmade any decisions reflective of openness to LGBTQIQ Jews by the end of the 1980s, in 1989 the Reformmovement—later known as the Union for Reform Judaism—publicly declared that the ‚union of [Reform]congregations must be a place where loneliness and suffering and exile end.‛ The following year, thismovement passed a resolution officially accepting gay and lesbian rabbinical students into their seminaries. Itwas not until 1992, however, that the Conservative movement affirmed for the first time that ‚LGBT‛ Jewswere welcome into Conservative synagogues, youth groups, camps and day schools, while simultaneouslymaintaining that such Jews were not permitted to hold lay positions of leadership. Only in 2006 did theConservative movement begin accepting openly Gay and Lesbian applicants into their New York City-basedrabbinical school. As for the Orthodox community, this denomination is abundantly clear in their position thathomosexual behavior is anathema to Jewish law, despite Orthodox outliers such as Rabbi Steve Greenberg’spush for greater Inclusion for gays and lesbians as recent as 2004. All of this said, it is important to note thatthe most explicit progress that has been made related to the Jewish LGBTQIQ communities has been inregard to lesbian and gay Jews and not those who identify as bisexual, transgender, or Intersex, let alonethose who identify as queer and/or questioning. Jewish Scholarship, NGOs, and LGBTQIQ Jews. The World Congress of GLBT Jews, Keshet Ga’avah,was formed in 1972 in London, becoming the first gay and lesbian Jewish organization in the world. Fouryears later, the World Congress held two meetings, the first of which was held in ten cities around the world(including Canada, England, Israel, and the United States. Largely due to the success of the first meeting, nAugust 1976 the First International Conference on Gay Jews was established. The following year, New YorkCity held the second annual International Conference of Gay Jews, at which time the conference name waschanged to include lesbians. With additional conferences held in Los Angeles (1978), and Israel (1979), in1980 the conference was held in San Francisco, at which time the World Congress of GLBT Jews wasofficially founded (though under a different name). 8
  9. 9. Aside from the World Congress, though some non-religious Jewish American organizationsprogressed toward equality for LGBTQIQ Jews faster than the Reform and Conservative movements, such asChicagos Jewish Family and Community Service’s acknowledgment of the need to include Gay and Lesbianpeople in professional settings as early as 1976, and Reform and Conservative institutions spoke out for civilrights for the ‚LGBT‛ community on issues related to the American military, the Boy Scouts, and same-gendermarriage, it is largely through scholarship that this movement has pushed forward. In fact, the last decade hasseen an exponential increase in the production of scholarship on issues related to gender and sexualorientation within the context of the Jewish community.VIII. Budget A detailed budget will be provided upon request. 9