August Brings 20th World Conference of GLBT Jews to LA

CA State Senator Mark Leno

The World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews: Keshet Ga’avah (“World Congress”) is pleased to announce that California Senator Mark Leno will receive its Leadership Award at the 20th World Conference of GLBT Jews.  The conference will take place Aug. 13 – 15, 2010, on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Senator Leno is being honored for his lifelong advocacy of GLBT rights and inclusion.  Senator Leno’s path to public service included two years of rabbinic training at Hebrew Union College, which gives him a unique perspective on the role of gays and lesbians in Jewish life and the GLBT community as a whole.  The Senator will appear at the event’s Saturday night gala dinner to accept the honor.

Elissa Barrett, an attorney who serves as Executive Director of the Progressive Jewish Alliance, will be the keynote speaker at Friday night’s shabbat dinner.  “Ms. Barrett’s social justice work within both the GLBT community and the Jewish community make her a perfect choice for keynote speaker,” said Jonathan Falk, conference chair.  “We look forward to her inspirational words.”

With queer Jews converging on Los Angeles from all over the world, we look forward to a weekend of learning, laughter, friendship, music, prayer, and social justice; a weekend both intimate and expansive, as we share our history and help make it,” commented Rabbi Lisa Edwards of Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim.

Weekend seminars at the Conference will cover a variety of issues of interest to the Jewish GLBT community, such as Judaism’s views of same sex marriage, sociological studies of the GLBT diversity, growing up queer in an Orthodox Jewish home, and organizing communities of faith for political change.  Confirmed presenters include: Steve Krantz of Jews for Marriage Equality, Kerry Chaplin of Faith for Equality, Rabbi Carla Howard of the Jewish Healing Center of Los Angeles, Prof. Richard Lippa of CSU Fullerton, Naomi Goldberg of the UCLA Law School Williams Institute, and many more.

On Saturday night, the Conference features a gala dinner, headlined by Lisa Geduldig, well-known San Francisco comedian.  Other featured entertainment will include the Gay Gezunt band and the choir from Beth Chayim Chadashim.

The World Congress – an organization that has advocated for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Jews since 1975 – strives to create a world of equality and respect for all people, regardless of sexual orientation.  The upcoming 20th World Conference, the first in Los Angeles since 1982, is presented by the World Congress together with the local host organizations:  Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim, Congregation Kol Ami, JQ International, Mishpacha UCLA, the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at Hebrew Union College, and the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring of Southern California.  Conference registration is ongoing at the website.

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