Hineni is a one-year Jewish leadership development fellowship that educates, inspires, and empowers
LGBTQ Jews to actively seek and attain positions of engagement, leadership
and influence in the Jewish world.
Through high-quality retreats, twice-a-month 90-minute seminars, and capstone projects, we provide participants with the
tools, core competencies, and inspiration to change the Jewish world for the better through their
unique gifts as Jewish LGBTQ leaders, change-makers, and innovators.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
LGBTQ Jews are ready to take charge of our own role and potential within the Jewish community. It's time for us to engage our truest, proudest selves in Jewish life, and to lead from our unique Jewish-LGBTQ perspectives. Thanks to years of hard work by lay and professional individuals and groups dedicated to LGBTQ inclusion, welcoming doors have started to open. Increasingly, Jewish organizations, outreach programs, community centers, synagogues and day schools are welcoming the active engagement of LGBTQs in all aspects of their work.
We welcome these recent advances, but work remains to be done.
There are still barriers to our taking our place as leaders, influencers, and change-makers in the Jewish community. Despite so many inroads for LGBTQ inclusion, the Jewish community is still largely heteronormative and homogeneous, and this culture creates an environment that can make it difficult for us to rise to positions of influence.
The Jewish community has come far, but it’s time for a new approach to join with and build upon the essential and ongoing work of Jewish LGTBQ inclusion. It’s time to address some key questions: What happens after the doors have swung open to us and we are on the inside? How can we help our inclusive and well-meaning communities truly integrate our presence, our leadership, and our unique Jewish- LGBTQ voices? How can we build all kinds of Jewish communities that see us as equals, and a powerful collective voice for insight, creativity, innovation, and justice?
It’s time for us to shift the paradigm from within: to sit on the boards, to be the advisors, the organizers, the inspirers, the funders, and the change-agents.
The Hineni program gives us the empowerment, inspiration, and tools to come into a healthy and fulfilling relationship with our Judaism, our Jewish identity, and our Jewish knowledge. With these tools, not only are our lives enriched, but the Jewish community as a whole is enhanced by the unique strengths and gifts we can bring to change and evolve Judaism into the 21st century and beyond.
Through our ability to come out, to say “Hineni” “Here I am”--ready to be fully ourselves, and fully of service--we can create new worlds within Judaism.
THE FOUR WORLDS
The Hineni program will teach you about four worlds of LGBTQ possibility in Jewish life:
The World of Atzilut, or Jewish Spirit
Many of us need a way back into Jewish spiritual life. In this module, we will explore the dimensions of Judaism, Jewish ritual life, observance, and spirituality through an LGBTQ lens. This cluster of classes, workshops and experiences is designed to give participants a deep and personal relationship to Jewish religious/spiritual practices and identity in order to become effective leaders and contributors in Jewish spiritual life. From explorations of Jewish rituals and prayer from a queer perspective, to meditation taught in a Jewish context, to sessions on God and belonging to a peoplehood, this cluster’s focus is on integrating Jewish spiritual life into the already existing spiritual lives and practices of participants.
The World of Briah, The Creation of Jewish Knowledge
In this module, we dive deep into the study of Judaism, Jewish history, Jewish knowledge, Israel--past, present and future--and traditional text-study. The aim is to get a sense of competence in Jewish knowledge--as LGBTQ people--in order to feel competent and knowledgeable to participate in Jewish life. We provide participants with a rigorous exploration not only of critical knowledge about Jewish life, but also of queer Torah-study--an opportunity to explore classical texts from our uniquely queer perspective.
The World of Yetzirah, The Formation of LGBTQ Jewish Identity and Creativity
In this cluster of workshops and experiences, we delve into the intersection, as well as the disjunction of Jewish and LGBT identities. We acknowledge both what separates us, as well as links us to our Jewish families, communities, Israel and tradition. We explore the ways in which the tensions within our identities informs our creativity and potential to lead others into new solutions and ways of living life more fully and lovingly. From this insight, we will encourage one another to be innovators, change-makers, disruptors, and guides to our Jewish brothers and sisters in helping to ensure a rich Jewish life into the future. The goal is also for participants to form a community of support and encouragement as we foment proud new queer-Jewish leadership identities to take back to our home communities.
The World of Asiyah, Action for the Sake of LGBTQ Leadership and Engagement
The focus of this module is translating our Jewish identities into meaningful leadership engagement. We study modes of effective leadership in Jewish communal life; we leverage our knowledge, queer identities, and skills to critique models of Jewish organization and leadership, and, through capstone projects, create personal mission statements and strategic plans for future engagement, innovation and influence in the Jewish world.