We are heartsick by what is happening to GLBT people in our country. Last night we read news accounts of the eighth teen suicide in the past few months – the suicide of 19-year-old Zach Harrington from Oklahoma. Earlier this weekend, we read the horrific story of the brutal attack on three gay men in the Bronx. And while many people know the name Tyler Clementi – and they should – few have heard of Victoria Carmen White, a 28-year-old transwoman who was murdered in Maplewood, NJ one month ago today.
The news fills us with despair, and yet, we are also full of hope. In just six days, over 2,800 Jewish community members, including 430 organizations, have signed onto Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives. We are well on our way to our goal of 18,000 signatories by the end of the calendar year.
Keshet’s inboxes are flooded with emails from rabbis, Jewish educators, parents of queer kids, youth group members, and so many others asking: What can I do to show my outrage and sadness? What can I do so that no Jewish kid – no person of any age, of any religion anywhere – ever doubts for a moment the possibility of being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender while living a life of dignity and joy?
As a start, if you have not already done so, please add your name to our pledge. Please forward this email to your friends and family. If you are affiliated with a Jewish institution that has not yet signed on as a co-sponsor, please forward this email to your synagogue president, rabbi, day school principal, summer camp director, federation president, etc.
Please visit our new website –www.jewishcommunitypledge.org and use the resources listed for taking action to help build a world free of homophobia and transphobia. Please email us your own stories and resources and we will add them to the website.
May the memories of Justin Aaberg, 15, Cody Barker, 17, Asher Brown, 13, Raymond Chase, 19, Tyler Clementi, 18, Zach Harrington, 19, Billy Lucas, 15, Seth Walsh, 13, and Victoria Carmen White, 28, be a blessing and a searing reminder to each of us of the responsibility we bear.