The rainbow, with it’s varied and beautiful refracted hues has become the symbol of diversity, including in our Jewish communities: diversity of gender identity and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, and physical or intellectual ability, among many other factors. The Torah teaches that every human being is created in the divine image. Check into these organizations that foster diversity and inclusiveness in the Jewish world (I love noting how often retreats and camps are part of the work!):
Keshet (Rainbow) is an award-winning organization that seeks full equality and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jews in Jewish life. And look for local organizations in your Jewish community, such as my area’s Mosaic of Westchester.
Bechol Lashon (In Every Tongue) promotes, grows, and strengthens the Jewish people through ethnic, cultural, and racial inclusiveness. They help us remember that Jews come in a rainbow of colors and cultures. Programs include summer camp and family retreats.
The Jewish Inclusion Project works with synagogues, summer camps, and schools to make Jewish life more inclusive for people with disabilities, whether physical, developmental, or learning disabilities.
Another Keshet (Rainbow) serves Jews with intellectual disabilities and their families. Located in the Chicago area, they provide a rainbow of programs (including summer camp) for individuals with intellectual disabilities, operating according to traditional Jewish values. More and more Jewish communities are providing support for individuals on the Autistic Spectrum as well as those with with developmental disabilities and learning disabilities. For example, in my own area, Westchester Jewish Community Services provides a wide array of services, and my congregation Pleasantville Community Synagogue, offers joyful SNAP (Special Needs at Pleasantville) Shabbat and holiday celebrations. Check with your local Jewish social service agencies and your local congregation to find out how to get involved.
Put it all together and we can celebrate more open and welcoming communities with the Big Tent Judaism model. The Big Tent Judaism organization encourages Jewish communities to celebrate diversity, welcome all, and lower barriers to participation.