Tag Archives: LGBT Alliance

This is a gender neutral restroom.

We speak about removing barriers for people often at my work in the organized Jewish community. These barriers we speak about can often mean finances but they can easily be much simpler and much more tangible. These barriers can be a physical or mental block that keeps someone in the margins not able to get access to what our Jewish community has to offer.

Here is a barrier that we don’t speak about a lot in the organized Jewish community: restrooms. Many people have no safe places to go to the bathroom. It is true! Ever wonder about the gender of that long-haired person in the men’s room or that short-haired person in the woman’s room? Imagine the looks that they get each time they simply have to go to the bathroom because their gender presentation does not fit the mold of other people around them. Many people avoid public bathrooms altogether because these looks can quickly turn into harassment.

This is the gender neutral restroom sign we posted this past week at the San Francisco based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

A copy of the sign that you can see in this blog is now hanging on our third floor outside of a restroom that was once reserved solely for use by men. A few years ago we put up a sign that simply said “gender neutral” but guests in our building kept referring to it as the “transgender bathroom.” This awkward phrasing that was being used started to create an even more isolating experience for both guests and employees. So together with two of my colleagues we were able to craft this updated sign.

I don’t always know how to honor each one of our community’s micro successes in the LGBT inclusion work that I do. We do not even know yet if this new sign can be seen as a success. I simply hope that this sign and story can present an opportunity to shape the way we can see things differently as a community.

I am aware that we need to share these moments of change to help other communities take similar steps towards greater inclusion. So if you have a suggestion on a success that you have experienced, please share it!

If you are looking for more gender neutral bathroom resources take a look here:

  • Safe2pee – a collective of like-minded activists offering resources to find safe places to use the bathroom and activism to promote gender free public restrooms
  • Toilet Training – a documentary video and collaboration between transgender videomaker Tara Mateik and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Using the stories of people who have been harassed, arrested or beaten for trying to use bathrooms, Toilet Training focuses on bathroom access in public space, in schools, and at work.
  • Toilet Training Toolkit – a companion toolkit full of useful facts and talking points about trans equality and bathroom access
  • Peeing in Peace – a resource guide created by the Transgender Law Center combining basic information about how someone can protect themselves with common sense steps that can be taken to change the way in which an employer, school administrator, business owner, or government official handles bathroom access issues
  • West Coast LGBT Training Institute for the Jewish Community – The purpose of the training is to make sure that LGBT youth, families, and staff are safe and affirmed in all Jewish educational and community settings. Participants will be trained and given the tools and guidance to replicate the trainings in their own communities.

Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Jewish Bay Area, LGBT Alliance


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although we live with hope we still plan on walking next year too

Margee and Kate walking with the Jewish Community Team

This summer marks thirty years of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and according to the SF Chronicle, more than 28,840 San Franciscans have been diagnosed with AIDS, and it has claimed the lives of more than 19,000 San Franciscans.

The walk itself was gorgeous as thousands of people hiked the 6.2 mile route under a ironic mix of both sunny and overcast skies.

Although our local community is strong and learning how to thrive and live within this epidemic we still need to walk to raise awareness, walk to celebrate those who live with the disease, walk to remember those whom we have lost and walk to find a cure.

This summer our Jewish Community AIDS Walk Team, organized by the San Francisco based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, was just one of the nearly 1,000 teams that helped raise over $3 million for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

Keep walking.

Together our Jewish Community team was able to raise over $3,000. Our collective donation will be dispersed by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation as grants to strengthen HIV prevention efforts as well as for advocacy, medical care, housing and social services programs for people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS.

Jewish community leader, Bevan Dufty always attends the San Francisco AIDS Walk.

Thank you to those who were able to show up this year and spend a wonderful day in the sun for a good cause! I received a commitment from the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund to help organize our Jewish community to walk together again in 2012 (details) so save the date to join us again.

In the meantime, take a look at more of our photos on facebook and take a look at our video of the great time we had together:


Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Jewish Bay Area


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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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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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Have you started to celebrate LGBT Pride month yet? Here is my top ten moments that I look forward to each year in San Francisco.

Since I was a teenager I have made San Francisco Pride month an annual rite of passage that I won’t skip for anything. Here are my top 10 annual favorite Pride moments that I can hardly wait to enjoy again this year:
  1. Not being the only person in the audience falling in love with each amazing performance at Fresh Meat Festival of transgender and queer performance…  (don’t miss this!)Fresh Meat Productions creates, presents and tours transgender and queer performance, dance and media arts.
  2. Seeing as many films made by my Jewish queer friends as possible at Frameline… ( we have a few more comp tickets let me know if you want one)One of my favorite colleagues at Pride with her Rabbi
  3. Submerging my entire body in sunscreen and still getting a suntan at Civic Center at our Jewish Pride booth… (keep me company at our booth!)Our annual Jewish community booth
  4. Giving my aunts, uncles and parents huge hugs when I run into them randomly having their own fun at Pride without me even asking them to be there to support me…my amazing family enjoying Pride together
  5. Standing on stage to introduce an Israeli LGBT Film or Gay Jewish Director and feeling awe-struck by the beautiful people in the crowd there to see another incredible LGBT film…me doing what i love to do - organizing loudly at pride
  6. Waving hello to the thousands of participants of the annual Trans March from the windows above where they are marching at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav during our Annual Kabbalat Shabbat Pride ServiceTrans Marchers
  7. Enjoying what always seems to be the very best day of San Francisco weather with clear blue sunny skies amongst the thousands of rowdy hot hipsters at the Dyke Rally and Marchdyke march and rally is always an incredible people watching experience at the very least!
  8. Letting everything hang-out and dancing in the streets at the best street party of the year with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on Pink Saturday…Pink Saturday in the Castro
  9. Being overwhelmed and overbooked by the sheer amount of options to celebrate Pride Jewishly!Rabbi's Marching in the 2009 Pride Parade
  10. Taking the morning off work to just catch-up on sleep the day after the Frameline closing night film and party…  Seeing everyone at the Castro Theatre, Victoria or Roxie during Frameline each year is the best!

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Providing a Jewish community weekend for LGBTQ parents & their children to learn, explore, & play in the beauty of the Sierra Mountains!

Keshet LGBTQ Family Camp Providing community for LGBTQ parents & their children to learn, explore, & play in the beauty of the Sierra Mountains! During one incredible weekend each summer dozens of families from across the globe gather together at Camp Tawonga for what is called, Keshet LGBTQ Family Camp. Keshet, meaning rainbow in Hebrew, provides an opportunity for families that somewhat resemble each other to have fun hiking, creating arts and crafts, and partaking in workshops (learn more).

Single-headed families, blended-families, co-parenting families, interfaith families that identify somewhere along the of Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Trans spectrum find themselves returning each summer.  Last summer at Keshet I brought my own model of queer family to Keshet. I brought my god-niece because I want to be sure that she grows up experiencing the joy and normalcy of other queer families like ours.Holding my god-niece at Pride

This year’s Keshet LGBTQ Weekend is August 25-28 and due to the generosity of the donors to our Jewish Community Federation’s LGBT Alliance, Camp Tawonga is able to offer 10% off every families Keshet program fees to those who register by June 30. This discount will not affect any additional financial assistance applications or decisions. Additionally, our Jewish Community Federation provides needs-based scholarships for Jewish children who live in the San Francisco Bay Area to attend a qualified family specialty camp (learn more). Please help me spread the word about these great financial assistance programs and I look forward to seeing each of you and yours along the river this summer at Keshet!


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Honor the memory and birthday of one of our most globally recognized San Francisco Gay Jewish leaders with your own messages of hope!

Come Out! Come Out! Wherever you are!  Come Out! Come Out! Wherever you are and celebrate the 2nd Annual Harvey Milk Day this weekend! Harvey Milk, the New York born and raised son of Jewish immigrants became the first openly gay man elected to a major public office in 1978. Sadly, within a few months of his San Francisco election he was assassinated (more). Harvey’s memory is now being remembered, celebrated and honored globally each year on his birthday as a day of action. Celebrate by telling your story and taking action. Celebrate by suggesting more LGBT Jewish hero’s to honor with the Hineini Visibility Project.  Learn more about Harvey Milk and how to honor his memory…

 Harvey Milk Facebook Profile Picture Campaign

Change your Facebook profile picture to this 1953-54 US Navy photo provided here for download from the Harvey Milk Foundation


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