Gender Diversity Task Force

Congregation Kol Ami strengthens its commitment to our LGBTQ+ community with our Gender Diversity Task Force part of the Tzedek (Justice) Council.  We are building on the historic focus of our congregation that has long been a center for equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Nonbinary and Gender Non-Conforming people.  

Our commitment is expressed in our policies and programs. From our celebration of LGBTQ Pride to Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance observances, our Gender Diversity Task Force continues to plan educational opportunities (such as film screenings, panel discussions, workshops, and Shabbat speakers) and brainstorm ways to enact policy changes and raise the awareness of our community members, friends, and the larger Jewish community.

One way we are committed to raising awareness is about the use and recognition of a person’s pronouns and understanding that a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are not the same thing! 

The gender you are assigned at birth may or may not be accurate or match what your brain and heart come to know. Gender identity is one’s innermost concept of self as a man, woman, a blend of both, or neither – how individuals understand themselves. A person’s gender expression is how one presents their gender outwardly, which may include the clothes one wears, their haircut, mannerisms, body characteristics, and/or pronouns used. We cannot assume that we know someone’s gender identity (or their pronouns) from the way that we perceive their gender expression to be. This is why using gender-neutral language for a person we do not know can be particularly useful.

Transgender individuals are those who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.  Some transgender (or trans) people identify within the gender binary (man or woman) and some trans people experience their gender outside the gender binary and identify as nonbinary. Nonbinary is an umbrella term for those individuals that do not identify as exclusively a man or woman. Some common nonbinary identities include genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, bigender, gender neutral, and many others.

Sexual orientation is a distinct concept, which is related to how and to whom one experiences sexual and/or romantic attraction. Sexual orientation identities may include gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, or queer.

At Congregation Kol Ami, we honor and respect every individual’s gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.  We make every effort not to assume we know a person’s story, including the many parts of their identities! There is great harm in misgendering a person. A great way to start is by introducing yourself with your name and pronouns, which can give space for others to feel able to share theirs. Watch this wonderful video featuring our Open Yad Council member, Eliana Ruben to help you learn more about the importance of respecting pronouns.

Did you know the idea that there is more than just male and female has existed in Judaism from at least the time of the Mishnah (200 CE)? Come learn about the six genders in Judaism, and what our tradition can teach us about gender diversity and inclusion of people who don’t fit into the gender binary. Ariel Zitny and  Ze’evi Berman presented a 3-session workshop on gender and Judaism. Watch it here: Part 1Part 2Part 3.

On Transgender Day of Remembrance Shabbat, our Education Resident Eliana Rubin performed a song that they had written, called Hold Tight. “Even though Trans Day of Remembrance and Trans Week of Visibility has passed, the work never stops for making the world safer and more equitable for trans folks,” Eliana says.

Worth Reading…

What the ‘They Mitzvah’ on ‘And Just Like That…’ Got Wrong About Queerness in Judaism (Alma, February 7, 2022)

Meet the Queer Mexican-Israeli Model Breaking Boundaries on TikTok (Vogue, January 31, 2022)

(Gender) queering Joseph (Life is a Sacred Text)

My Trans Teshuvah (Alma, 8/31/21)

I’m a Non-Binary Jewish Drag Queen. My Husband is a Rabbi’ (Newsweek, August 20, 2021)

There Are Not Two Sides to the Trans Rights Debate (Dubbs Weinblatt, June 1, 2021)

D’var Torah for Transgender Day of Visibility / Passover – Michael Prince (4/2/21)

“We’re All Made in God’s Image, Including Trans Jews Like Me” – Dubbs Weinblatt (Alma, 3/31/21)
I’m a Nonbinary Person. Can I Still Be a Jewish Mother? (Shelly Jay Shore, Mar 31, 2021)
How the Jewish Community Can Show Up for Genderqueer Jews (Dubbs Weinblatt February 1, 2021)
Outside the Gender Binary (Marie-Rose Sheinerman, January 13, 2021)
What the Torah Teaches Us About Gender Fluidity and Transgender Justice (RAC, September 20, 2018)

Trans Torah

Non-Binary Hebrew Project



“A no frills kind of podcast where I talk to trans and gender non-conforming Jews about our experiences with tallitot and tzitzit.” Listen Here