Launch of LGBTQ Pathways Begins a Year of Jewish Leadership

The Federation's LGBTQ Pathways to Leadership Program launched this past Sunday with an initial cohort of 12 participants. Hailing from around the world (Sierra Leone, Canada, California, New York), those in this first-ever program spent the day getting to know one another, sharing their queer and Jewish identities, and identifying their own leadership styles. Created in partnership with Keshet and the LGBT Alliance, “Pathways” provides a forum for emerging leaders to engage in the Jewish, LGBT, and civic communities as decision makers and thought leaders.

Reflections on LGBTQ Pathways, Day 1

I identify as Jewish, and I identify as queer, and fortunately, especially in the Bay Area, those two things very much go together. This past Sunday I spent the day meeting others who identify like me and learning about our commonalities and unique ways of navigating queer Jewish life.

I joined the Pathways to Leadership program because I have been feeling like I’m on the fringe of the Jewish community and I’m ready to jump in. Wanting to increase my connection to Judaism is motivated in part by having my infant daughter grow into a toddler. As the Jewish partner in my interfaith relationship, I’m the one who is going to bring the Judaism to the table, and into Nayali’s life. And, in order to do this, I realized I have to figure out more of what my Judaism means to me. This program seemed like an interesting way to start this journey.

On Sunday, I was touched by the transparency of the program’s administrators telling us that they can’t represent the Jewish queer community on their own. They would like to cultivate a new cohort of queer identified Jews to join organizations, serve as speakers, and be on boards. There is so much history that comes before me, so many queer Jews who pioneered and helped make space for people like me and my family to be welcomed at the table. The least I can do is to give back to the very people who paved the way, and provide a guiding hand to those that come after me.

Sharon Turner is a member of the first cohort of the Federation's LGBTQ Pathways to Jewish Leadership program.

For more information on the LGBTQ Pathways to Jewish Leadership program, contact Katherine Tick at or 415.512.6265.



November 19, 2013


Sharon Turner