SOJOURN Announces Expansion into Birmingham

THE SOUTHERN JEWISH RESOURCE NETWORK (SOJOURN) ANNOUNCES EXPANSION INTO BIRMINGHAM; WILL LAUNCH CITY-WIDE “WELCOMING COMMUNITIES PROJECT” 

A new programmatic partnership between SOJOURN and the Levite JCC will launch a city-wide task force to enhance welcoming practices to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Birmingham’s Jewish agencies. 

Birmingham, AL — The Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN), in partnership with the Levite Jewish Community Center of Birmingham, is thrilled to announce its expansion into the Birmingham community with the launch of the inaugural city-wide Welcoming Communities Project. 

SOJOURN’s Welcoming Communities Project works with Jewish agencies, synagogues, and schools to ensure that every member of the community feels safe, welcome, and accepted for who they are. Rebecca Stapel-Wax, executive director of SOJOURN said, “Being welcoming is more than just saying ‘we’re welcoming.’ Our program curriculum guides agencies in a thoughtful process to ensure that not only will lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews feel welcome in Birmingham’s community organizations, but the community feels comfortable in welcoming them.”

Levite JCC MORE (Membership, Outreach, Retention and Engagement) director, Monika Flurer adds, “Birmingham prides itself on its hospitality, and now we are able to put our words into action. We are excited to lead our community’s efforts to bring more people to our synagogues, schools, camps, and other organizations.”

SOJOURN’s Welcoming Communities Project aims to help regional synagogues, school, and agencies become welcoming places for GSD (Gender and Sexually Diverse) Jews in both theory and practice. This program was previously known as the Welcoming Synagogues Project and focused solely on synagogues. This is the first time the program has been expanded to include multiple agencies simultaneously.

SOJOURN and LJCC staff will work with local volunteer leaders, board members, staff, educators, and clergy in very specific areas, including:

  • Creating welcoming language for websites, marketing materials and by-laws
  • Reviewing administrative documents (membership) for inclusive language
  • Expanding and updating the agencies' non-discrimination policies
  • Conducting at least two community-wide seminars or educational workshops
  • Integrating inclusive language into worship content and educational curricula
  • Supporting equality efforts for GSD people outside of the agency
  • Affirming the synagogue’s clergy will perform life-cycle rituals for LGBT Jews

SOJOURN and the LJCC will hold a special kick-off event to launch the Welcoming Communities Project in Birmingham on Monday, February 23 at 7:00 pm. Find details here.

 

ABOUT SOJOURN

The Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN) promotes increased understanding and acceptance of individuals across the entire spectrum of gender and sexual orientation in the Southeast through education, outreach and advocacy, inspired by Jewish and universal ethics and ideals. 

http://sojourngsd.org

 

ABOUT THE LEVITE JCC OF BIRMINGHAM

Through the lens of Jewish identity and values, the Levite Jewish Community Center provides a welcoming, family-oriented gathering place for a diverse membership to engage in meaningful experiences of the mind, body and soul. Impacting more than 130,000 members of the Birmingham community annually, the LJCC is welcoming to people of all faiths, ages, and backgrounds. The LJCC is a family-oriented recreational and educational facility that is open to the entire community, and is a United Way agency.

www.bhamjcc.org

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Robbie Medwed

Robbie Medwed began working with SOJOURN when it was known as The Rainbow Center as a volunteer in 2008. He served as chair of the TRC Advisory Board and as co-chair of Purim off Ponce (2010, 2011) before moving into his current role as Assistant Director, where he oversees SOJOURN's educational programming and outreach, including our award-winning workshops and training seminars. Robbie holds a master's degree in Jewish education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and 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. Robbie is also a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and cyclist. Robbie can be reached at robbie@sojourngsd.org.