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LGBT Alliance Study: A Needs Assessment of the San Francisco Bay Area LGBT Jewish Community
By Caryn Aviv
This study was conducted from 2008 - 2009 and is recognized as the crucial first step of the broad-based community planning effort towards the creation of Celebrating Distinctions, A LGBT Alliance Strategic Plan. The central research questions that informed this study were to gain a more nuanced understanding of: What is meaningful to LGBT Jews in terms of their Jewish identities; The ways in which LGBT Jews currently interact -- or not -- with the organized Jewish community; What LGBT Jews want and need from the Jewish community in terms of services, programs, and inclusion. Additionally, the study sought to gather information about Jewish organizations regarding LGBT-outreach and inclusion efforts, including LGBT-related programs, policies, and practices in the Bay Area Jewish community.
LGBT Jews are highly diverse in terms of age, gender, geography, identities, interests, social networks, and commitments. Many study respondents are already deeply engaged in Bay Area Jewish life and have helped to transform Jewish organizations from within as staff, board members and clients or members. For other LGBT Jews, a lack of engagement with Jewish community does not mean lack of deep Jewish identity. LGBT Jews want to, and often do, incorporate aspects of their Jewish identities and Jewish culture into their lives, outside and beyond synagogue life, and they want more identifiable pathways to involvement and leadership opportunities. The factors encouraging Jewish engagement (or not) mirror recent data about other subpopulations with the Jewish world, but LGBT Jews express these factors to a more pronounced degree. The respondents in this study suggest that some, but by no means all, LGBT Jews in the Bay Area have largely moved beyond the particulars of their sexual and gender identities as key ways to express being Jewish. Given how this population mirrors national trends but at higher levels, the trends and issues surfaced by LGBT Jews might be considered the bellwether of Jewish life in the United States.
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Aviv, Caryn. LGBT Alliance Study: A Needs Assessment of the San Francisco Bay Area LGBT Jewish Community. Jewish Mosaic: The National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. 2010: http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=7461
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