The third in a series of posts from the people at the heart of Anglo-Jewry’s thriving LGBTQ+ organisations. This time: Beit Klal Yisrael (BKY)
Co-Chair of Beit Klal Yisrael, David Rubin, explains the background of the organisation and how it works to include LGBT Jews and others into the Jewish community
BKY (Beit Klal Yisrael) emerged on the London Jewish scene in 1990. Its roots can be traced back to the collective thought and experience of a small group of secular Jewish lesbian-feminists led by the Leo Baeck ordained Rabbi Sheila Shulman.
Their intention was to create a Jewish home for those who felt estranged from Jewish life and Jewish communities.
We regard ourselves as a community of people who recognise the true diversity of Jewish experience and who welcome all new members and participants, especially those who are distanced or estranged from many facets of contemporary Jewish community life.
We realise that many people have found that life in and around traditional synagogues offers only a traditional welcome, no real place and no recognition of their legitimate needs as Jewish people. Hence our name is Beit Klal Yisrael, House of Israel.
We welcome everyone, but especially:
- Lesbian and gay Jews
- Patrilineal Jews
- People who are for one reason or another on their own and who would feel more comfortable in a community which emphasises individual presence and participation
- Jewish women who want to work out an independent and challenging relation, as women, to Judaism and to being Jewish
- Jewish women and men who may not think of themselves as formally religious, that is, as pious or observant, but who do have Jewish issues, questions and concerns (spiritual/existential/ethical/moral) they want to engage with
- Jewish women and men whose partners, though not Jewish, wish to be supportive and participate in the life of the community.
What do we do?
- Shabbat– we hold regular services on the first and third Friday evening and second and fourth Saturday morning of each month
- Festivals – we celebrate all the major festivals, including a communal Seder on the second night of Pesach at on Tu B’Shvat. Our festival celebrations are known for their richness and the warm welcome we extend to all who come along
- Social and after-service events – after each Friday evening service we hold a social where we bring along and share vegetarian food. A discussion or other type of event is sometimes also organised
- Cultural programme – we offer a varied programme including discussion groups, speakers, folk dancing, singing and lesbian group events
- Study – we organise sessions where there are opportunities for Jewish study and learning, which allow participants to encounter Judaism freshly, or for the first time, as an adult.
For more information visit http://www.bky.org.uk/