Grantee Profile: Keshet

Tolerance is a word that has been bandied about in the LGBTQ community for many years. And for a while, it seemed a worthy goal. But, according to Rebecca Cariati, Bay Area Regional Director of Keshet, it is now time to move beyond simple tolerance and into what every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Jew rightfully deserves: to be fully welcomed into the fabric of the Jewish community.

Keshet Bay Area regional director
Rebecca Cariati.
Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

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. The organization has offices in Boston and San Francisco, and a growing presence in cities around the country. For a relatively small nonprofit, its agenda is extraordinarily ambitious: from training leaders how to build more inclusive institutions through special initiatives (such as the Keshet/Federation's “LGBTQ Pathways to Jewish Leadership Program”); and fostering community for LGBTQ Jews through singles mixers, Shabbat dinners and Torah study; to creating safe, supportive environments for LGBTQ Jewish teens and parents of LGBTQ children; and rallying the Jewish community at-large to stand up for LGBTQ civil rights.

One would think that Keshet’s fight for civil rights and acceptance would have been yesterday’s battle, particularly in the Bay Area, with the fifth-largest Jewish community in the United States and an LGBTQ-Jewish population estimated to be over 36,000. But, unfortunately, according to Rebecca, our generally welcoming institutions sometimes reflect an attitude of “gay blasé” – meaning inclusion and integration for LGBTQ Jews can be taken for granted and removed from the forefront of the communal agenda. Keshet addresses that institutional ambivalence by taking its message of inclusion directly to the grassroots, educating and advocating in synagogues, Hebrew schools, day schools, camps, Jewish Community Centers, businesses and anywhere people are willing to engage with issues of LGBTQ acceptance.

“We see our niche as being a broad convener of the LGBTQ community and those who love and support us,” says Rebecca. “And we want to be as impactful on the ground as we can so that our families are reflected in every aspect of Jewish life.”

Rebecca and the whole Keshet team, led by their founding executive director, Idit Klein, are quick to acknowledge how the support of the Federation has been vital in their development of a wider array of programming and opportunities to engage in Jewish life for Bay Area LGBTQ Jews. “It’s taken us to the next level, but we know we have a lot of work to do.”

Though Rebecca knows that Keshet’s mission is far from accomplished, at the same time, as LGBTQ Jews have increasingly become part of the mosaic of Jewish life in the Bay Area and around the world, she believes she is getting closer to the day that she can reach her ultimate goal: “to make us obsolete!”

To learn more about Keshet, please check out their website at

Tags: Keshet, LGBT, LGBTQ
Categories: LGBTQIA+, Grantees


March 31, 2015


Jon Moskin