LGBT stalwart Keshet gets $540,000 from S.F. federation

Keshet, the nation’s largest organization working for LGBT inclusion in Jewish life, has been awarded a $540,000 grant from the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

The three-year grant, an– nounced last week, is a targeted gift for Keshet expansion in the Bay Area and will support community-building, engagement and new programming.

Keshet was founded in 1996. Its national office is in Boston, but it is ramping up its Bay Area office, which opened in June 2011 and is housed at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav in San Francisco. Dr. David Robinson is the new regional director, and a community organizer and office manager soon will be hired.

Jennifer Gorovitz

“Keshet is the right partner for JCF,” said Jennifer Gorovitz, the federation’s CEO. “This grant reflects the vision of the JCF board of trustees and one of the major goals of the Bay Area Initiatives Fund, namely to reduce barriers and increase access to Jewish life for all of the Bay Area’s diverse Jewish community.”

Gorovitz said Keshet’s work in the Bay Area fits with the priorities of the federation’s LGBT Alliance: developing a broader array of programming and opportunities for engagement in Jewish life for Bay Area LGBT Jews.

“This partnership with Keshet is a natural evolution of the work of the LGBT Alliance, and provides a stronger platform with greater resources for achieving our goals,” said Arthur Slepian, lay chair of the LGBT Alliance.

Idit Klein

According to a 2010 LGBT Alliance study, an estimated 36,000 self-identified LGBT Jews live in the greater Bay Area.

“The Bay Area has some of most vibrant and dynamic LGBTQ Jewish life in the country,” said Idit Klein, founding executive director of Keshet. “By expanding our presence in the Bay Area, Keshet hopes to tap into the exciting energy for change and growth that we are seeing at this time nationwide, as well as in the Bay Area.”

With the grant, Keshet plans to offer social and cultural programs for Bay Area LGBT Jews by working in partnership with local organizations ; provide professional development training, technical assistance and capacity-building support around LGBT inclusion to staff and community leaders at day schools, synagogues, youth movements, summer camps and other Bay Area Jewish institutions; and offer leadership development opportunities for LGBT Jews in the Bay Area.

To celebrate the new partnership, the federation and Keshet will host a Chanukah party on Dec. 13 at the JCC of San Francisco. The event will be free and open to the community. To learn more, visit www.keshetonline.org. —  j. staff