Category Archives: Queer Jewish Leaders

Gay Ugandan refugee finds home in Jewish Bay Area

Avi Rose

Yasher Koach and Todah Rabah to Avi Rose & Jewish Family and Children Services of the East Bay as well as all of those that were involved.

Do you remember when a few Americans got involved in launching a political movement to eliminate homosexuality in Uganda? How about when The Rachel Maddow Show covered this anti-gay hysteria with the catchy title, “Uganda Be Kidding Me“? Do you remember learning about the murder of David Kato after a Ugandan media outlet published his name and photograph along with 99 additional Ugandan leaders with the corresponding title, “Top 100 Homosexuals – Hang Them”? (read more)

It was within this mishigas that Bay Area LGBT Jewish community leader, Avi Rose with Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the East Bay (JFCS) began to take action. Now, Danny Dyson, a Ugandan refugee who gained asylum status based on all of this anti-gay persecution, is living here in the Bay Area.

What’s next? Gay refugees settling in our community from Iran? Yes! I understand more LGBT folks will be joining us from both Iran and Uganda soon thanks again to Avi Rose, JFCS, a few philanthropists and the Direction of Neil Grungras with the Organization for Refuge Asylum and Migration (ORAM). These amazing leaders and advocates truly help make our Jewish community shine…


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finding the community that works for you

san francisco is the home of the third largest metropolitan jewish community in north america and within this number are approximately 36,000 lgbt queer self-identified jews. i get asked a lot about how to find “the” queer jewish community. meaning to many that are asking, “where is the community? you know, the one that distinctly pulses with fabulous people sort of like me?”

i don’t have a definitive answer but it seems folks generally want to know where to physically find the queer jews that they want to hang-out with, to date, to fall in love with, to have a family with, to network with, to simply know who and where they are…  so far, in my relatively short time in the bay area, it seems that the community is made up several intersecting times. each time seeming to intersect within a microcosm of a few respected and connected people. these people also seem to make the time to show-up, often bravely alone, at events or activities that seem to share similar themes and values to them.

so this is one of the reasons why i am constantly populating our queer jewish community calendar with ways that queer jewish folks (and their family and friends) can get involved and get connected to the community.  so take a look and match your interests with the events listed (film festivals, israel travel, active-activism like the aids walk, family camping weekends, foodie conferences, art exhibitions…) and find the community of queer jews that works for you.


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Volunteers are my personal hero’s and further, they are serious superstars! Thank you for your help.

The view inside our Jewish Community Outreach booth at Pride this summer.

For the past several years my work has allowed me to partner with several organizations at our two-day Jewish Community Outreach booth at San Francisco Pride.

Lisa Finkelstein the Director of the LGBT Alliance holding a young girl on her lap while coloring at the Contemporary Jewish Museum's table.

Four Jewish Community professionals stopped by our booth during their fun times at Pride. Take a look at more photos of these friends on our facebook page.

The partners we choose is based on their continuous efforts in distinguishing themselves as partners in the work of celebrating our diverse LGBT Jewish community.

Thank you to the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) and Be’chol Lashon, meaning In Every Tongue in Hebrew, who contributed as primary partners to the San Francisco Pride Jewish Community outreach booth.

Johnny, our Contemporary Jewish Museum volunteer, proudly holds up the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas paper doll cutouts that provided a fun activity for kids of all ages to work with.

Four ladies stop by the Jewish Community booth. Take a look at more of the photos on our Facebook page!

A next huge thank you to the professional partners of Kol TzedekKeshetNehirimA Wider BridgeNUJLS and Congregation Sha’ar Zahav for making this year such a success.Two women smile in front of the Gertrude Stein backdrop.

An additional thank you needs to be extended to Sierra Gonzalez, the Marketing & Audience Strategy Associate at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), for loaning us the Backdrop depicting Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas’s Salon at their famous 27 Rue de Fleur apartment in Paris taken in 1934.

This woman stopped by proudly wearing her Exiles shirt. The Exiles meets below where the Mission Minyan gathers on Friday evenings inside the Women's Building. The Exiles are a non-profit educational group for women who have a positive personal interest in BDSM between women in San Francisco. The group provides educational events where women with all levels of experience will have a safe place to meet, explore and share information about safety, play techniques and resources, and connect with the leather community locally.

These three Cheer LA folks stopped by to see one of our incredible leaders. The woman in the center of this photo is the sister of Erik Ludwig, the Chief Operating Officer of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR) and Bechol Lashon. Cheer LA is committed to helping organizations who are working so hard on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic.

A young woman at our SF Pride booth loves taking a shot in front of the SFMOMA backdrop of the photo of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas’s home at 27 Rue de Fleur in Paris, 1934. Thanks again to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Inside Gertrude Stein's Salon at San Francisco Pride 2011

For our volunteers, staff and selfless-schlepps alike please feel just one more huge thank you. These folks are superstars in my heart: Adar Schneider, Amy Rabbino, Ariel Chasnoff, Daniel Sanson, Dakota Hunter, Daryl Carr, David Zeeman, Dr. Donny Inbar, Erik Ludwig, Esther Gibian Fishman, Glen So, Harriett Hardy, Johnny Sun, Josh Weisman, Kevin Johnson, Leah Greenberg, Marissa, Maxwell Kopeikin, Melanie Samay, Rachel Levinson, Zach Ruleymeyer, Rabbi David Baur and Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder.

Diane Tobin

Lastly, a very sincere deep thanks needs to be saved for Diane Tobin. Diane, who is the Director of Be’chol Lashon, modeled exceptional community partnership, friendship and professionalism.

Volunteer and Staff Stars of Pride 2011

אַ דאַנק. Thank you. তোমাকে ধন্যবাদ. 谢谢. salamat. Thank you. σας ευχαριστώ. Mèsi poutèt ou. תודה. Dankie. شكرا. Terima kasih. ありがとう. با تشکر از شما. 감사합니다. Muchas gracias. آپ کا شکریہ. 


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playing paparazzi with queer activists over a 20 minute span in the castro is quite fun during pride.

last night i played paparazzi in the castro. i had a great time too. i kept running into folks that i admired. folks in the queer community that make film, make change, make our community really great. this included friends and hero’s alike. here are a few shots i snapped via my reluctant blackberry on castro and 18th street after seeing becoming chaz. you can find all of these folks too by joining us out in the community this pride.  Plus while you are at it you can enter to win $250 gift card if you stop by our jewish community pride booth and enter our raffle on both saturday and sunday.

kc price is the executive director of frameline film festival. i spotted him at starbucks between films. i love this shot because it started my paparazzi experience but also, i love capturing that great chalk drawing promoting the sf aids walk.karyln and sasha t. goldbergkaryln and lisatwo old friends that met at jewish summer camp outside of sacramento

how many queer jews are in this photo? can you count?

after seeing all of these folks i came home and found this old frameline promo. i loved being able to count how many queer jewish activists i could spot in a simple minute. good memories. take a look, do you see our friend sasha t. goldberg in her film acting debut?


Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Queer Jewish Leaders


what are you living with? this film provides moments of hope and validation for folks living and thriving with HIV/AIDS. want to see it with friends? i have two tickets left!

Commemorating the 30-year anniversary of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, The HIV Story Project (a non-profit based in   San Francisco) presents the West Coast premiere of Still Around on Friday, June 24th, 2011 as part of Frameline35, San Francisco’s International LGBT Film Festival at the Castro Theatre.

Two of my dates to Still Around, Dr. Donny Inbar and Kevin Johnson

The feature length short film compilation brings together sixteen San Francisco Bay Area filmmakers and fifteen local subjects to tell powerful stories about people living and thriving with HIV/AIDS.Want to see it with me and my friends Donny Inbar and Kevin Johnson on Friday? We have two more tickets available.



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marc smolowitz is still around and shines brightly with 15 stories of hope

you might know my friend, marc smolowitz. maybe you know him from his days organizing in the castro with the act-up movement. maybe you took one of his courses at the art institute of california, or you might know his name because he directed and produced a few highly awarded films. you might know him because of his local leadership at full circle fund, sf public press, jewish film festival, or san francisco’s access public cable tv. folks might know him because he served on the jewish community federation’s lgbt alliance board. i just know him, love him, have been mentored by him and want to share that he is very much still around.

The full list of local directors who contributed to Still Around includes (alphabetically): Emmanuelle Antolin, Daniel Cardone, S. Leo Chiang, Deborah Craig, Robert Dekkers, Véronica Duport Deliz, Jörg Fockele, Stuart Gaffney, Amir Jaffer, Sade Huron, Tim Kulikowski & Ian Wolfley, Rick Osmon, Anne Siegel, Marc Smolowitz and Debra A. Wilson.

this month is the 30th anniversary of HIV/AIDS. and marc has been preparing by devoting the past two years to create the HIV Story Project. this new npo produced an unrivaled collection of 15 stories by local directors. each story speaks to what survival for our times mean. still around shows people living and thriving with HIV/AIDS. even 30-years into this epidemic, this work is groundbreaking by featuring stories of hope and courage. marc’s most recent work is a definitive ‘must see’.

let me know if you will be in the audience supporting this film, these local producers, directors and frameline on friday june 24 at the castro theatre (1:15pm w. a 3:30 after-party at the Lookout co-hosted by AIDS Healthcare Foundation). trust me, you can do all of this before pride shabbat begins this friday (get tickets). the screening is co-presented by various HIV/AIDS nonprofits and the directors and subjects are expected to be in attendance for a post-screening question and answer session.


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Frameline Opens Tonight with a host of LGBT Queer Jewish filmmakers to support!

How does this happen? Each year Frameline jumps into the middle of the best month of the year with some of the hotest and most incredible films and on the day of the opening night I am hustling to buy tickets before everything sells out.  As I need to be organized about which films to see, I created a list. Some of the films I am opting to see this year are made by Jewish LGBT local leaders and friends and some of the films I am opting to see are simply themed around the complexity of queer Jewish identities.

So if you are like me and you want to attend at least a few of the 200+ films at the the oldest and largest GLBT Film Festival in the world, we need to get on it and purchase our tickets today. So, just in case you want a cheat sheet to Frameline, here is mine…

Films based in Jewish Identity

Films Directed and/or Produced by local LGBT Jewish leaders
  • Celebrating the Life of Del Martin – San Francisco, 2011, 57 Min. Directed by Debra Chasnoff. Shown on Friday, June 17, 11:30 AM at the Castro Theatre.   
  • Blink – San Francisco, 2010, 8 Min. directed by Yoni Klein and Alka Joshi. Shown on Tuesday, June 21, 1:30 PM at the Castro Theatre within The Grove.
  • The Grove – San Francisco, 2011 62 Min. Directed and Produced by Andy Abrahams Wilson. Shown on Tuesday, June 21, 1:30 PM at the Castro Theatre 
  • Still Around –San Francisco, 2011, 85 Min. a feature length compilation of 15 short films produced by Marc Smolowitz. Shown on Friday, June 24, 1:15 PM at the Castro Theatre.
  • Gillian– San Francisco, 2010, 11 Min. Directed by Martin Rawlings-Fein. Shown on Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 PM at the Victoria Theatre within Transtastic!
  • Spiral Transition – San Francisco, 2010, 6 min. Directed by Ewan Duarte. Shown on Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 PM at the Victoria Theatre within Transtastic!
  • Genderbusters – San Francisco, 2010, 6 min. Directed by Sam Berliner. Shown twice! Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 PM at the Victoria Theatre within Transtastic! and Friday, June 24, 4:00 PM at the Castro Theatre within Dyke Delights.
  • Perception – San Francisco, 2010, 2 min. Directed by Sam Berliner. Shown on Thursday, June 23, 11:00 AM at the Castro Theatre within Queertoons.
  • We Who Are Sexy: The Whirlwind History of Transgender Images in Cinema – Live on-stage conversation and film clip presentation, 90 min. with film historians Jenni Olson and Susan Stryker on Sunday, June 19, 2:00 PM at the Victoria Theatre.
Debra Chasnoff

There's just one day left before the World Premiere of Debra Chasnoff’s latest film, Celebrating the Life of Del Martin on Friday, June 17 at 11:30am at the Castro Theater.

Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the first reported AIDS cases, local filmmaker Andy Abrahams Wilson will be screening his new work, The Grove. His film which gives a history on the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park shown at Frameline on June 21 at 1:30pm at the Castro Theater.

Israeli filmmaker Tomer Heymann will be speaking after showing his film The Queen Has No Crown on Saturday evening, June 18 at the Roxie Theater 6:30pm.

Marc Smolowitz is one of the local filmmakers who produced Still Around - a feature length compilation of 15 short films shown on Friday, June 24, 1:15 PM at the Castro Theatre.

Marc Smolowitz is one of the local filmmakers who produced Still Around. This feature length compilation of 15 short films will be shown on Friday, June 24, 1:15 PM at the Castro Theatre.

Martin Rawlings-Fein is another local filmmaker who will show a film at Frameline this year. His short film, Gillian will be shown on Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 PM at the Victoria Theatre within Transtastic!

Martin Rawlings-Fein is another local filmmaker who will show a film at Frameline this year. His short film, Gillian will be shown on Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 PM at the Victoria Theatre within Transtastic!

Yoni Klein and Alka Joshi

Local filmmakers Yoni Klein and Alka Joshi created Blink an 8 minute short that will be shown on Tuesday, June 21, 1:30 PM at the Castro Theatre within The Grove.


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