Eighteen:22 Conference participants. Click for a larger image
This past August the first ‘Eighteen:22’ network, gathered in Salzburg, Austria to talk about the next chapter of LGBTQ Jewish life. The official ‘class’ photo that was released to the media from that gathering really impressed me mostly because in my work as an editor of A Wider Bridge’s online magazine, I've managed to connect with many of these people, write about them, and highlight their work. But never have I seen them, these activists who do so much for the community, all in one photo.
Then came the idea to turn this photo into a tool to help people looking to connect with the Jewish LGBTQ world get to know “Who’s Who” and get a glimpse of the wonderful work they’re all doing for the community and, frankly, for the world.
So here’s the guide. Look for the names in the photo and then match them with the blurbs below, appearing in alphabetical order.
Justine Apple (Toronto, Canada) is the Executive Director of Kulanu Toronto, Toronto’s leading LGBT Jewish organization, since 2008. In 2012, Justine was one of 23 Jewish leaders selected to participate in The Joshua Institute for Jewish Communal Leadership run by UJA Federation. In 2013, Kulanu Toronto was accepted as the newest resident of Genesis: UJA Federation’s Centre for Jewish Innovation. Justine is a Board Member of Congregation Shir Libeynu, pro-Israel LGBT organization A Wider Bridge and CIJA’s (The Center for Israel and Jewish Public Affairs) Local Partnership Council.
Shay Assor (Israel) is working closely with IGY (Israeli Gay Youth Organization) leadership on the foundation of its Alumni Community. In addition, he works with Taglit Birthright Israel to build an Israel Community for the organization, reaching out to tens of thousands of Israelis who have joined the trip in the past. With over ten years of experience in Israel and abroad, Shay is helping organizations build and strengthen their communities and run meaningful, sustainable programs that help them better achieve their goals.
S. Bear Bergman (Toronto, Canada) Award-winning writer, educator and storyteller S. Bear Bergman is the author of seven books as well as the founder of Flamingo Rampant, a children’s press focused on feminist, LGBTQ-positive, racially-diverse children’s books. His most recent book for grownups (Blood, Marriage, Wine, & Glitter) made several Best Of lists, has toured JCCs across North America, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.
David Bilchitz (South Africa) – A Professor at the University of Johannesburg and Director of the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law. He is also Secretary-General of the International Association of Constitutional Law. David has published widely in the field of fundamental rights law and has also written several pieces on the rights of LGBTI persons and the potential clash with religious associational rights. David is heavily involved in the Jewish community: he is a founder of Limmud South Africa and is currently the chair of Limmud International. He has been vice-chairperson of Beit Emanuel Progressive Synagogue, has functioned as a lay religious leader for many years and currently heads the Jewish identity portfolio of his synagogue.
Johnathan Bouzali Dayán (Mexico) – Executive Producer at KUTER Production House. With hundreds of TV, cinema and radio spots and media campaigns for well-known companies, Johnathan working in the publicity and production industry, accruing a diversified portfolio of projects while working with some of the best known national and international brands and companies. Jonathan has also cooperated closely with foundations and institutions of social support in diverse areas such as gender equality, health, arts & culture, people with disabilities, urbanism, sustainability, eating disorders among others.
Tamás Büchler (Hungary)- His work in the Jewish community includes youth work for various organizations, such as the Israeli Cultural Institute, the Jewish Agency, the Haver Foundation and the Limmud Conference. Tamás has coordinated educational projects in the field of young leadership, social justice and human rights for students and young adults. Tamas also works with the Roma community in various frameworks. He is a PresenTense Global Fellow, a Rene Cassin Fellow, a Schusterman Fellow and a member of the ROI Community.
Romina Charur (Argentina) - Romina is from Buenos Aires, and exercises her profession as a lawyer in an independent firm. She is the general secretary of JAG (Jewish Argentine Gays), working for the inclusion of human rights.
Louis Cholden-Brown (New York City) Legislative and Budget Director at the New York City Council. Responsible for coordinating the activities of the Council Health Committee and LGBT Caucus, Louis has embraced the mantra of housing as healthcare to seek ends to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and youth homelessness, a commitment which also permeated his tenure as chair of the Center for New Activism. In December 2014, legislation drafted by Louis to allow transgender New Yorkers to amend the gender marker on their birth certificates was passed after a 8-year campaign.
Halley Cohen (Washington)- Director of GLOE, The Kurlander Program for GLBT Outreach & Engagement, which connects GLBT Jews at the Washington DCJCC- and a co-chaor at Eighteen:22. Since 2010, she’s created and led over 400 diverse cultural programs with GLOE, attracting thousands annually. As an activist, scholar, and artist (the Lambda Literary Foundation tagged her as one of 25 Emerging LGBT Writers in the US), she’s worked to strengthen diverse voices. As Chair of national conferences for InterFuture, a nonprofit supporting independent global intercultural research, she has created training systems in intercultural fluency for advanced young scholars and their teachers and trainers.
Seth Cohen (Atlanta, Georgia)– As part of the senior leadership team of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Seth serves as its Director of Network Initiatives, leading the Foundation’s efforts to identify, connect and support global networks of young Jewish adults to enable them to create Jewish experiences and communities for themselves and their peers. In addition to representing clients ranging from start-ups to Fortune 10 telecommunications companies, Seth also received recognition for his commitment to pro bono legal services, including his work as one of the lead attorneys in a successful federal civil rights lawsuit protecting the voting rights of Georgia citizens.
Evan Davidoff (New York City) - Executive Director and a co-founder of the Global Partnership for Emerging Leaders (GPEL). Evan has worked with CBST (New York’s LGBT Synagogue), Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and just recently joined Kulanu, an organization dedicated to empowering Jewish communities around the globe, as their Program and Development Coordinator. In addition to LGBTQ human rights work he is also a fervent animal rights supporter and activist. Since becoming vegan 5 years ago as a person “10 Days of Awe Challenge” Evan has grown even more interested in veganism and loves to swap recipes and try different vegan restaurants around the world in his travels.
Siegal Eli-Gers (Chicago, Illinois)- A Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her specialties include working with adolescents and young adults. Siegal has focused her career on creating safe spaces for youth. As part of the Response clinical team, Siegal has worked to create a culture of language and safety that is inclusive for all youth, and currently working on developing a gender support group. She’s also becoming trained in leading Rosh Hodesh groups to provide adolescents with as many options of support as possible.
Dalia Fleming (London, UK)- An active member of the British LGBT Community. As Education Co-ordinator at Keshet UK (LGBT Jewish forum working for the inclusion of LGBT Jews in British Jewish life), Dalia leads a team who go into schools and help facilitate conversations and better understanding of what it is like to be an LGBT Jew. Fleming is passionate about supporting people’s development and helping the entire British Jewish community - with a focus on young people - understand the experiences of British LGBT Jews and build safer spaces for LGBT Jews themselves.
Rebecca Fox (New York City) - A Program Officer at Wellspring Advisors, a donor advised firm that coordinates grant making programs that advance the realization of human rights and social and economic justice for all people. Prior to coming to Wellspring, she was the Executive Director of the National Coalition for LGBT Health, leading organizations nationwide to work together to improve the lives and health of LGBTQ people through advocacy, outreach, and education. She was also an Adjunct Professor of Human Sexuality at the George Washington University. She serves on the board of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and is an active participant in the Selah Leadership Network for Jews engaged in social justice work.
Rachael Fried (New York City) - Co-Director of the Jewish Queer Youth (JQY) Women’s Space and is the program director in a Jewish summer camp. Rachael is a destigmatist, which means that she designs to approach taboos and to reduce stigmas and stereotypes. When she isn’t brainstorming new ways to create safe spaces, Rachael can be found painting fantastical creatures, repurposing old broken objects, and traveling the world in her bright green converse.
Marcus Frieze (Jerusalem. Israel)- Joined the ROI Community, an international network of activists, as Program Officer, where he oversees the ROI Summit and other ROI programs. Previously, Marcus worked at Masorti Olami – the World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues, as Director of Worldwide Projects where his responsibilities included fundraising, publicity, data management and organizing missions and delegations. Since 2010, Marcus has been on the board of directors of Crossroads, an organization that supports at-risk English speaking teenagers in the Jerusalem area.
David Gee (London) – A core volunteer in KeshetUK. He has run workshops within schools and for international and national youth movements. David is interested in involving allies within the community. David also volunteers for LGBT education charity Diversity Role Models.
Shana Gee-Cohen (Minneapolis, Minnesota) - Owns and runs her own event company called Sweet Soiree Events & Entertainment. She plans & hosts LGBTQ Jewish events in the Twin Cities and is excited to begin expanding into LA and NYC. When she is not planning a party, you can find Shana at the St. Paul JCC working as the Membership Director, working for full inclusion of LGBTQ Jews throughout the JCCA. Shana also volunteers for JPrideMN as the Outreach and Engagement Chair of the organization.
Asher Gellis (Los Angeles, California) - Co-founder and Executive Director of JQ International and serves as a consultant and educator to LGBTQ and Jewish organizations across the globe. Under Asher’s stewardship LGBTQ & ally Jewish community building has seen many firsts including LGBTQ Persian Noorooz events and services, the first fully-integrated and globally sourced LGBTQ Passover Haggadah, a city- wide Transgender Jewish calendar of events, and the JQ Warmline, the first national one- stop LGBTQ Jewish hotline.
Beth Glick (Vancouver, Canada) A consultant who drives organizations and teams towards heightened impact and creativity, Beth has Worked with organizational clients in over fifteen countries on four continents. Working with philanthropic organizations such as The Global Fund for Children, Ashoka and American Jewish World Service, Beth’s work included due diligence and portfolio analyses and coaching South Asia-based grantee organizations through strategy creation and implementation, organizational restructuring, staff recruitment and retention, leadership development, and impact evaluation design and application. Beth previously worked with Partners for Democratic Change, where she managed civil society and conflict resolution programs in Eastern Europe and Latin America, and partnered with its global affiliate organizations to strengthen their operations. She has also held positions with Amnesty International and Sri Lanka’s largest nongovernmental organization.
Carlos A. Godoy L. (Montréal, Canada) - Principal leader since 2010 of Ga’ava, the Jewish Community’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee (Québec), Carlos is a respected and valued Jewish community volunteer even though he is not Jewish. Formerly a Vice-Pres- ident of the Québec Government’s Regional Youth Council for Montréal, Vice-President of the Québec Gay Chamber of Commerce and Member of the Executive and Board of Montréal Hooked On School, Carlos was appointed to Ga’ava’s Board as Chairperson in 2010 and made bridging differences and creating bonds between LGBTQ Jews and the greater Québec LGBT community a priority. By day, Carlos is Vice-President at Canadian PR/GR firm Impact Public Affairs. Yelena Goltsman (New York City)- Founder and co-president of RUSA LGBT, an organization formed in 2008 to establish a social network for the Russian-speaking LGBTQ community in the New York area and beyond. RUSA LGBT works toward social justice, human and civil rights for LGBTQ people in US and in the countries of Former Soviet Union (FSU). Yelena immigrated to the United States in 1990. Yelena is a recipient of the 2014 Brooklyn Lambda In- dependent Democrats Award.
Wayne Green (Melbourne, Australia)- Founder and Director of JAG Melbourne (Jewish and Gay). JAG now also provides educational and advocacy events to the wider Jewish community to ensure the inclusion of diversity, equality and acceptance for LGBTQI Jews. Wayne works full time as an Executive Manager for the State Government of Victoria, at the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as in a part time role in early detection and prevention for HIV in high risk populations. Wayne is dedicated to improve the health outcomes of individuals and communities and is a strong advocate for social justice.
Tyler Gregory (New York City) Joined A Wider Bridge in August 2014 as Director of Programming and Development, managing the pro-Israel LGBT organization’s fundraising and event portfolios. Previously Tyler worked at AIPAC as the Deputy Political Director for the Pacific North- west, where he focused on building broad based partnerships, advocating for a stronger US-Israel relationship. Additionally, Tye serves on the board of YAD, the Jewish Community Federation’s Young Adult Division, as the only LGBTQ representative. He is also an alumnus of the Pathways to Leadership Program, a nine month initiative for emerging LGBTQ Jewish leaders in the Bay Area.
György Hámori (Budapest, Hungary)- A resident of Moishe House Budapest since May 2014 and works at the Herzl Center Budapest and the Israeli Cultural Institute as an Educational Coordinator. He has worked and volunteered for a variety of NGOs and organizations across Europe, including the European Volunteer Service in Málaga, Spain and The City is for All activist group in Budapest, which focuses on homelessness and the criminalization of the homeless.
Warren Hoffman (Philadelphia) - Associate Director of Community Programming for the Center of Jewish Life and Learning at Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and is the director of Jewish Pride, Federation’s LGBT affinity group. Prior to that he was the Senior Director of Programming for the Gershman Y in Philadelphia where the Jewish Exponent named him the ”next wave” of arts and culture in the city. He also founded Queer@TheCollaborative, Philly’s first social group for LGBTQ Jews in their 20s and 30s. He’s also a co-founder of Heymish, the longest-running havurah in Philadelphia. Warren is also a playwright and his work has been developed in New York, Philadelphia, and Dallas. He earned rave reviews for his book The Passing Game: Queering Jewish American Culture published by Syracuse University Press.
David Jasqui (Mexico) – creator of Pink David a group of volunteers, who give coaching and mentoring to LGBTQ Jewish people and their families for accepting and dealing with the sexuality and identity issues.
Daniel Jonas (Jerusalem) – Chair person of ‘Havruta – Religious Gays in Israel.’ He’s an observant Jew, married to Uri. Daniel became motivated to volunteer and help his fellow closeted women and men following the murderous attack at the Bar-Noar (gay youth club) in Tel-Aviv at Aug. 2009. Lately, he became more involved in local Jerusalemite politics and culture, running in the Meretz primaries for the elections to the city council and, until recently, as ‘Yeru-Shalem,’ Coalition for an Inclusive Jerusalem’ coordinator
Surat Shaan Knan (London) - Works for the Liberal Jewish movement in UK and is a campaigner for faith related LGBTQI issues. Surat-Shaan is the founder and manager of the landmark Lottery Heritage funded projects Rainbow Jews and Twilight People. Shaan is an out & proud transgender Jew and blogs for Jewish News UK about his transitioning journey. As a high-profile public speaker, he has presented at numerous international conferences including Tel Aviv LGBT Leadership 2015; ILGA World; AIDS 2014 Melbourne, Global Interfaith Network, Johannesburg 2014, and WOGA Outgames, Antwerp 2013. He is now preparing for a ground-breaking portrait exhibition at The Jewish Museum London in 2016.
Jaimie Krass (Chicago) - Crisis Counselor at The Trevor Project and coordinator for Columbia University/ Barnard College Hillel’s Birthright programs. She also volunteers at the Hillel International LGBTQ Inclusivity Committee in her spare time.
Jason Landau-Goodman (Philadelphia , Pennsylvania) – Executive Director of Pennsylvania Youth Congress. Jason has been involved with J-Bagel since 2009, the Jewish LGBTQ student organization at the University of Pennsylvania. As Chair of J-Bagel, the organization transformed into one of the largest and most active Jewish LGBTQ student organizations in the nation. He has been a leader in the national LGBTQ youth movement for over five years, and has been named one of the top 12 LGBT Youth Leaders in the United States by Campus Pride.
Shonna Levin (New York City) - Shonna has been a key contributor within a gamut of projects in the frum community and has worked on a documentary on mental illness in the yeshiva community, an Orthodox ED equine treatment center, special needs inclusion, sex positive kallah programming and LGBT activism. She contributes to a secretive group of frum queer members who had, have or will have a measure of female/feminine identity, and organizes, recruits for and facilitates their events. She enables discourse with influential members of the Yeshiva community to structure support for queer youth in Monsey, Brooklyn and Lakewood schools.
Joseph (Joe) Levin-Manning (Baltimore, Maryland) - Joe has worked with several organizations in North Carolina, Florida, and Maryland supporting students of all ages. On campus, Joe actively brings together the Jewish and LGBTQ communities for dialogue and personal exploration that builds a stronger and more inclusive community, reducing stigma by increasing overall understanding. Personally, Joe has been a competitive ballroom dancer, actor and performer, and loves to explore new places through cuisine and meeting locals. Joe currently works as the Graduate Coordinator for LGBTQ Programs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the Director of Engagement at UMBC Hillel.
Mordechai Levovitz (New York City)- Rebellious and free thinking from the age of five, Mordechai insisted that he be considered a “boy-girl” on his first day at his ultra-Orthodox kindergarten. Throughout the next sixteen years in Orthodox yeshivas, Mordechai continued to challenge the gender norms of Orthodox Judaism, while developing a proficiency in Judaic studies. In college Mordechai became New York’s first male Certified Rape Crisis Advocate. In 2002 he founded “JQY,” a nonprofit for LGBT youth in the Orthodox community, and currently serves as its executive director.
Jayson Littman (New York City)- Founder of Hebro, an event production company targeting gay Jews in New York and has produced over 50 events since its inception in 2008. Jayson’s events and parties attract upwards of 1,000 attendees who travel to NYC from throughout the country to attend these unique events targeting the gay Jewish community. Hebro has also produced travel destination trips to Germany and Israel, and in April of 2014 organized its first Florida destination weekend that brought 80 gay Jews from 16 states and 3 countries.Robbie Medwed (Atlanta, Georgia) -Assistant director of SOJOURN: The Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity, where he oversees their educational programming and outreach, including their award-winning suicide prevention workshops, Jewish education sessions, and training seminars. Robbie also leads the legal advocacy efforts of SOJOURN, including their successful blocking of the harmful, so-called ”religious liberty” bill in the Georgia legislature. Robbie has written curricula and nationally-recognized inclusive programs for the Marcus JCC of Atlanta, BBYO, USY, Camp Ramah, the Jewish Teen Funders Network, Babaganewz, and JewishGPS.Gustavo Michanie (Argentina)- President of JAG (Jewish Argentine Gays). Michanie has been part of the World Congress Jews LGBT. He is almost a full time activist for the Diversity and Inclusion Cause in Argentina. He also attended several American Joint Congress at which the LGBT issue was dealt with. Gustavo worked with many political representatives of the country involved in the discussion of the Equal Marriage Law that was finally passed in July 2010. He is one of the protagonists of the Documentary, “One Among Others,” which is a film describing the story of four gay members of the Jewish Community in Argentina
Rabbi Jessica Minnen (New York City)- Rabbi in Residence at OneTable, a startup initiative that supports young adults to end their week with intention around the Shabbat dinner table, and the founder of Ecstatic Mincha, a monthly Shabbat afternoon dance party in Brooklyn. In 2012 . Jessica founded Seven Wells, to create a space where Torah and classic Jewish texts serve as a framework for a larger conversation about gender, sexuality, and identity.
Eli Nassau (Mexico City) -President of Guimel, an organization that gives support to Jewish Mexican LGBTs, their families and friends, and helps the community accept and include its LGBT members. Eli also works as a Stage Manager for The Lion King musical production in Mexico City. While in college (University of Souther California), Eli co-founded and directed JAGS, the Jewish Alliance for GLBTs and Straights--a student organization that bridges the Jewish and LGBT identities. JAGS won a University award for Best Religious Organization in 2012. After graduating, Eli moved to New York City to pursue a career in the Entertainment Business. He worked in the Tribeca Film Festival for a year. Eli also participated in several Jewish-Queer organizations and events such as JQY, Hebro, and CBST.
Juval Porat (Los Angeles, California)- Cantor of Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim, Los Angeles’ LGBT synagogue. The passion for singing and service leadership bred by those experiences led him to pursue cantorial studies at the newly established Institute of Cantorial Arts in Berlin, part of the Abraham Geiger College. He spent his final academic year at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, where he wrote a thesis on the development of the Friday evening liturgy in Germany. In June 2009 Juval was invested as the first cantor to be trained in Germany since World War II. In 2012, Cantor Porat produced a celebratory concert and CD in honor of BCC’s 40th Anniversary and in 2015 he released his first album of original material named ”Optimism.”
Oliver Rosenberg (New York City) - Founder and Executive Director of Or Chayim, the first Orthodox LGBTQ minyan in the world, located in New York’s Upper West Side. It also provides a start-up Shabbat & holidays community experience for unaffiliated, traditional and Orthodox LGBTQ Jews. Founded in February 2014, Or Chayim attracts an average attendance of 70 people per Shabbat including 55 people afterwards for a sit down Shabbat dinner. Oliver was recognized by the Jewish Week as one of their 36 under 36 Jewish leaders in 2015.
Robert Saferstein (New York City) - Founder & Co-Chair of Eighteen:22, and also runs “Friday Night Lights,” sophisticated Shabbat and holiday dinners for gay Jewish professionals. Interested in the interfacing of ritual, experience, technology, and culture, Bobby has used his background in the arts and media to broaden the definition of what ‘Jewish’ can look like by building community and realizing new points of engagement across multiple platforms. Currently the Market Development Director at Sh’ma Journal, Bobby has overseen a strategic development process to develop, prototype, and test a new suite of products in different markets.
Named to the New York Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36,” Bobby is the recipient of two prestigious Natan Grants for ROI Entrepreneurs (2013 & 2014.)
Harry Samuels (Washington, D.C.) – Manager of American Jewish World Service’s LGBT rights advocacy portfolio. In this capacity, Harry has worked with LGBT rights groups in Kenya, Uganda, Nicaragua, El Salvador and most recently Burma to connect them to stakeholders in the US government. In addition, he is a volunteer with HIPS, a local, public health organization that conducts overnight outreach to drug users in DC and to people engaged in commercial sex work.
Johanna Sanders (New York City)– Chair of ‘Aleinu,’ CBST synagogue’s 20s & 30s group. Johanna is an extraordinary activist and community organizer who is passionate about social justice as well as providing spaces- particularly for young LGBTQ Jews- to come together, reaffirm their commitment to Judaism and form a welcoming community where everyone feels at home. Her career path is entirely dedicated to achieving justice- her current employment is with the legendary LGBTQ activist Urvashi Vaid at The Vaid Group working with social justice innovators, movements and organizations to address structural inequalities based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and economic status.
Phoenix Schneider (Philadelphia) - LGBTQ Initiative, JFCS of Greater Philadelphia. Phoenix Schneider, M.S.W., has worked in the nonprofit sector for the past fifteen years, specializing in program development and direct services with LGBTQ individuals and communities. Phoenix is a thought leader in the area of LGBTQ youth and mental health and has extensive experience developing local and national programming for LGBTQ populations. Prior to working with JFCS, Phoenix was the Program Director with The Trevor Project for six years and oversaw a safety net of suicide prevention programming for LGBTQ youth. Phoenix is trans, queer, Jewish and a lifelong advocate for LGBTQ individuals and communities.
Nadav Schwatz (Jerusalem)- An educator, graphic designer, and advertiser, he is currently the vice chairman of Havruta - religious gays. Nadav volunteers in Hoshen, Shoval, and Shira trying to make a change through the world of education. He is further involved in a bunch of other organizations that are both religious and secular. His blog has been active for over three years, talking about different issues and experiences form his life.
Steven Share (Philadelphia) - spent six years at Lord & Taylor in Philadelphia, NYC, and Washington DC, where he developed his public relations and human resources skills. He then spent six years as Senior Consultant for a private Customer Experience Management firm, where he was a business and Human Resources Consultant, and prided himself on being the "CMO" (Chief Morale Officer.) Steven was also a volunteer for the one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ pride events serving on fundraising and special events committees for Capital Pride in DC for 8 years. Steven joined Tribe 12 as Spectrum Philly’s Project Manager in 2014 and is honored to be on the forefront of building a vibrant, exciting LGBTQ Jewish community in Philadelphia. He is also Tribe 12’s representative for JProud, a consortium of Jewish organizations in Philadelphia working to become more LGBTQ inclusive, and is on the Young Friends board and Public Program Committee of the National Museum of American Jewish History. Steven was a fellow in the inaugural cohort of Eighteen:22 a global network of Jewish LGBTQ activists and leaders. He is also a graduate of Young Involved Philadelphia’s Board Prep Program.
Dave Shaw (London) - Founding director of Keshet UK – the charity that works for full inclusion of LGBT people in Jewish life in the British community. As the communications and operations lead, he steers a team coordinating website, social media, CRM, press, editorial, and events. Aside from this, much of his work is spent meeting with representatives of community organizations to advocate for diversity and scope the needs of projects to make their organizations more inclusive. Dave is also co-chair of Gay Jews In London, a group with over 600 members, providing a safe space through social activities for those identifying as gay and Jewish in London.
Yehoshua Shohat Gurtler (Tel Aviv) – A founding member of ”Shoval,” a member and legal adviser of Havruta - Religious Gays and is active in the Pride Minyan. He is a founding member of Yachad, an inclusive Orthodox synagogue in Tel Aviv. He has also volunteered in Hoshen - Education and Change and in the Israeli LGBTQ support hotline. Yehoshua was a Major in the IDF’s Legal Corps and is now a partner in Israel’s largest law firm (Herzog, Fox & Neeman). He frequently speaks and lectures in different forums on issues related to LGBTQ rights and tolerance.
Matthew Shurka (New York City) - Ambassador at #BornPerfect Campaign - National Center for Lesbian Rights. After going through “conversion” therapy in four different states until finally coming out in 2012, Mathew has been a strong national advocate for banning these destructive practices. The #BornPerfect team, which he’s now a part of, has promised to end conversion therapy in all 50 states by 2019. More recently, Mathew joined Representative Ted Lieu to introduce a bill that has the potential to end conversion therapy on a federal level. Mathew Shurka is having a global impact by creating a conversation for love and acceptance through forgiveness and peace.
Hannah Simpson (New York City)– Coordinator at Trans Lifeline. Hannah is a medical student, marathoner, biomedical engineer, funny human being, devoted Jew and transgender activist. Since coming out, Hannah has contributed to numerous queer causes and communities, most notably working as a volunteer coordinator for the Trans Lifeline, a peer listening and crisis hotline created for and by members of the trans, nonbinary, and intersex communities. Hannah is also an organizing member for Shir HaMaalot Brooklyn, an independent monthly Havurah, and actively participates in many committees in Congregation Beit Simchat Torah of Manhattan. Hannah is also a writer on trans issues in religion and media, and has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC and Fox 5 (WNYW) New York.
Zehorit Sorek (Tel Aviv)- Yesh Atid Party / Bat Kol. Zehorit established the Pride Minyan in Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur in 2009, after she felt like she had no place in her native, Orthodox synagogue. Zehorit has dedicated her volunteer work to the creation of a proud Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender religious community. Besides her work for the Pride Minyan, she’s an active member of “Bat Kol,” the religious lesbian organization, and a former director at “Hoshen” an educational program for LGBT acceptance. Also, she’s a member of the advisory committee of the LGBT community center in Tel Aviv. During the last year, she has served as the Chairperson of the LGBT caucus of the “Yesh Atid” political party.
Michael Tolkin (New York City)- An innovator, entrepreneur, investor, and producer. He most recently served as CEO of IMAX Labs, the innovation arm of IMAX Corporation. Prior to IMAX Labs, Michael founded and led Merchant Exchange, a loyalty marketing platform. While in college, Michael developed his first startup, Foodilly Chocolate Factory, a gourmet customized candy bar concept.
Gal Uchovsky (Tel Aviv) - A filmmaker, writer, LGBT leader, and TV personality. He is a household name and a celebrity in Israel, and one of the leading commentators on arts and culture. Mr. Uchovsky has been a vocal advocate of gay rights, becoming a role model for young people. He is known for his firm standing against closeted celebrities and is a big advocate for visibility. The monthly Pink Time named him in 2010 ”The most influential gay person in Israel.” Mr. Uchovsky is the president of IGY, Israeli Gay Youth Organization, he founded with Yaniv Waizman in 2002. IGY is the biggest LGBTQ organization in Israel. Joanna Ware (Massachusetts)- Keshet Associate Director of National Programs. In her time at Keshet, Joanna has built powerful communities of LGBTQ Jews and allies across Greater Boston, Massachusetts, and the country working in support of full justice and equality for LGBTQ people, including organizing the Jewish community in support of the successful passage of the Massachusetts Trans Equal Rights Bill in 2011. As Boston Regional Director, she directs Keshet’s work in Boston with Jewish institutions, LGBTQ Jews, and our friends and family, including the Keshet Parent & Family Connection.
Sarah Weil (Jerusalem) - Founder and Executive Director of Women’s Gathering Jerusalem. Sarah made Aliyah from California in 2005 and has lived in Jerusalem ever since. She has been involved in a number LGBTQ and Jewish initiatives. She served for two years as Director of International Outreach for Bat Kol, the religious lesbian organization in Israel. Since the last Gaza war, she has been more active politically in integrating queer and Zionists identities. To this end, she is in the process of creating a queer Zionist think tank and blog with academics, politicians and activists, that will give support and a voice to thousands of LGBTQ Jews who feel that in order to be accepted in the queer community, they have to keep quiet on their support of Israel. Sarah works as Social Media Manager for the Elijah Interfaith Institute.
Heather Wilk (Los Angeles) - Co-founder and Executive Director of Los Angeles based charity, Straight But Not Narrow (SBNN). SBNN works with various anti-bullying and LGBT equality campaigns to increase support from straight high school and university students. Celebrities, such as Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games), Avan Jogia (Nickelodeon’s Victorious) and Gethin Anthony (Game of Thrones) work with SBNN to garner the attention of a new generation of advocates. Since SBNN’s establishment in 2011, the organization has been recognized by several LGBT organizations as one of the leading Straight Ally campaigns.
Michal Zimmerman (New Jersey) - An active member of the LGBTQ community and has recently taken on LGBTQ leadership roles within his organization, Jewish National Fund. He has led an LGBTQ Taglit Birthright through Israel this past summer. He is currently working on forming a National LGBTQ lay leadership, comprised of active donors from around the United States who are eager to pursue projects in Israel which improve life for the LGBTQ communities around the country.