LGBT Community


The Bay Area boasts one of the largest and most diverse Jewish LGBT communities in the United States.

Long known as a mecca for the LGBT population, our region is home to an estimated 36,000 self-identified LGBT Jews. (2010 LGBT Alliance Study)

Our Federation was the first to create an LGBT Alliance, and we did so as a means of community strengthening, leadership building, and strategic grantmaking designed to inspire and engage the Bay Area’s LGBT Jewish community.

The LGBT Alliance works to ensure that LGBT Jews are welcome throughout the Jewish community, particularly in those institutions that work to educate our youth and introduce them to Jewish life. The LGBT Alliance provides needed support to organizations and programs that strive to grow and strengthen the Jewish LGBT community, and it develops leaders, providing mentorship, training opportunities, and board placement. As of 2014, the co-chairs of the Alliance are Dara Papo and Sam Goldman.

The Federation, through the advocacy and support of the LGBT Alliance, has:

  • Opened the LGBT Fund, which lends support to programs and organizations in our community.  
  • Created LGBTQ Pathways to Jewish Leadership, a new program geared toward developing strong LGBT leaders for the Jewish community. Apply for the fall cohort, or nominate a leader now.

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

  • Awarded a major three-year grant to Keshet to support community-building and engagement for LGBT Jews in the Bay Area. Keshet is a national grassroots organization that works for the full equality and inclusion of LGBT Jews in Jewish life.

The Federation, through the LGBT Alliance, also supports other resources for Bay Area LGBT Jews, including:

  • A Wider Bridge, another Federation grantee, which seeks to inspire LGBT Jews to deepen their Jewish identity through connection with Israel, and to develop stronger connections between LGBT communities in Israel and North America.  
  • Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, the Congregation of the Golden Gate, a progressive Reform synagogue established in 1977, made up of LGBT and heterosexual Jews together with family and friends, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
  • Nehirim, an organization that builds community for LGBT Jews, partners, and allies. Its retreats and other programs celebrate LGBT culture and spirituality, and empower LGBT Jews to become active voices in their home communities.





Investing in Jewish LGBTQ leaders

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to the fifth-largest Jewish community in the United States, and to a huge and diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer population, including an estimated 36,000 LGBTQ Jews. And, yet, there are few out-and-proud LGBTQ Jewish leaders in the region's organized Jewish or LGBTQ worlds.

LGBTQ Pathways to Jewish Leadership
In partnership with Keshet and the LGBT Alliance, LGBTQ Pathways to Jewish Leadership is a new program geared toward developing strong LGBT leaders for the Jewish community. The Pathways program is the result of a seminal 2010 study by Jewish Mosaic: The National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. The study focused on gaining a better understanding of the following: what is meaningful to LGBTQ Jews in terms of their Jewish identities; the ways in which LGBTQ Jews currently interact – or don't interact – with the organized Jewish community; and what LGBTQ Jews want and need from the Jewish community in terms of services, programs, and inclusion.

The study resulted in the identification of three major unmet needs of the community: regionally and demographically targeted programming, more identifiable pathways to involvement and leadership, and choices for elderly LGBTQ Jews. And, notably, the study's exploration of insufficient leadership opportunities has culminated in the creation of the Pathways program.

The goal for the first year of the program was to have 12-15 participants come together for nine sessions over the course of one academic year. Each individual was paired with a mentor and introduced to key LGBTQ leaders and allies in the Bay Area Jewish community. Participants are trained to develop their own personal leadership style, to better understand how to see themselves as LGBTQ Jews and leaders, and to learn the history and current needs of our Jewish community. Additionally, participants learn nuts-and-bolts essentials like running an effective meeting, building consensus among disparate groups, addressing diverse audiences, and managing conflict. The objective of the program is to provide all participants with critical leadership skills in hopes of fomenting dynamic engagement in our Jewish community – as active committee and board members, senior staff of Jewish organizations, and visible community leaders.

Ideal candidates for this innovative program are LGBTQ Jewish individuals with leadership potential who are in need of some skill development and are enthusiastic about learning more about our Jewish community and their engagement therein. We encourage anyone who is interested to apply, or to share the application with those who would benefit from participation in the program.

Apply for the fall cohort, or nominate a leader now.

Through our Israel and Global fund, the Federation supports the following program in Israel

The Aguda – The National Israeli LGBT Task Force: Psychosocial Service Program for the LGBT Community
The Aguda, the National Association of LGBT in Israel, is Israel’s pioneer lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organization. It's a national grassroots, volunteer-based, nonprofit human-rights organization representing the LGBT community. The Aguda promotes and advances new initiatives and cultivates leadership and partnerships with all sectors and groups within the community and strives for full equality for LGBT people. It also aspires to create a public and social climate of acceptance and respect for the LGBT community and for its individual members.


Read some of the latest LGBT related blog posts:

Senator Mark Leno Connects with Circuits Cohort
December 9, 2015

Senator Mark Leno spoke about coalition-building challenges with the Circuits cohort, a new Federation initiative that connects young LGBTQ Jewish leaders with networking and skill-building opportunities.

Grantee Profile: Keshet
March 31, 2015
Keshet, Hebrew for “rainbow” and “bow,” was founded in Boston in 1996 and, from its humble beginnings, has become a nationally impactful organization that works for the full equality and inclusion of LGBTQ Jews in Jewish life.

Class of 2015 Orientation
December 8, 2014
Musings on the Federation's LGBTQ Pathways to Jewish Leadership program.

The LGBTQ Pathways Program
June 9, 2014
Leadership through diversity. 

Announcing the New Chairs of the LGBT Alliance
April 7, 2014
We are proud to announce the two new co-chairs of the LGBT Alliance Advisory Committee: Dara Papo and Sam Goldman.

Connect With Us