September 12, 2023
The Jewish LGBTQ Donor Network has announced its inaugural grants, benefiting three organizations: Project Kesher Israel, Israeli LGBTQ+ Medical Society, and Keshet. $50,000 will be awarded to each organization for projects that enhance the lives of LGBTQ Jews, totaling $150,000 in grant funds.
These grants mark the first time a group of philanthropists who identify as both Jewish and LGBTQ have collectively funded Jewish LGBTQ life at this scale. The three projects were selected through a grants process that involved Jewish LGBTQ Donor Network members from across the US, Europe, and Israel.
The grant to Project Kesher Israel supports LGBTQ refugees from Ukraine and Russia who are arriving in Israel as a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Jewish LGBTQ refugees and their partners must navigate Israel’s bureaucracy and can face denial of benefits, poverty, family separation, depression, and isolation. Funds from the Jewish LGBTQ Donor Network will support an expansion of Project Kesher Israel’s initiative to provide mental health resources, legal advocacy support, Jewish educational programming that is inclusive and models a Judaism that embraces members of the LGBTQ community, direct assistance, and social support to LGBTQ immigrants and refugees from Ukraine and Russia.
The Israeli LGBTQ+ Medical Society will use their grant award to increase access to gender affirming care for trans Israelis. Currently, wait times to see a physician in Israel for gender affirming hormone therapy can be six months or more due to an extremely limited number of doctors who are qualified in providing this care. Additionally, those outside of central Israel often must travel significant distances to access a qualified physician, further limiting access. The grant from the Jewish LGBTQ Donor Network will underwrite the Israeli LGBTQ+ Medical Society’s initiative to provide 20-25 physicians throughout the country with world-class training from leading experts in gender affirming care so that they can provide that care in their communities. This will dramatically increase access to medical care, both by decreasing wait times and by reducing the distance that trans Israelis must travel to see a qualified physician.
Keshet is in the first year of a multi-year initiative to mobilize the Jewish community to advocate for LGBTQ rights and train Jewish institutional leaders to build communities of LGBTQ belonging in the Southeast and Southwest US. The grant award from the Jewish LGBTQ Donor Network recognizes the need to respond to an increasingly difficult and challenging environment for LGBTQ Jews in certain areas in United States. Funds will support Keshet’s community mobilization efforts as well as training for Jewish organizational leaders and educators to make Jewish institutions more welcoming and safer for LGBTQ Jews in Texas, Florida, and Arizona.
“We’re incredibly proud to support these three projects in our first round of grants as a Network,” says Jewish LGBTQ Donor Network Executive Director Neil Spears. “Each organization addresses a critical and immediate need in the Jewish LGBTQ community.”
“These first grants are just the beginning of the impact that donors who identify as both Jewish and LGBTQ can have when we come together as a community,” says Jewish LGBTQ Donor Network Co-Founder Stuart Kurlander.
“Having dozens of LGBTQ Jews pool their resources to support our own community sends a powerful message,” added Co-Founder Jeff Schoenfeld.
“We look forward to welcoming additional members to the Network so that we can learn together and magnify our collective impact,” added Co-Founder Alex Greenbaum.
The Jewish LGBTQ Donor Network, founded in 2021 by philanthropists Alex Greenbaum of Tel Aviv, Stuart Kurlander of Washington, D.C. and Miami, and Jeff Schoenfeld of New York, is a global community of Jewish LGBTQ individuals who come together to explore philanthropic opportunities in the Jewish LGBTQ space and to translate that learning into collective action to enhance the lives of LGBTQ Jews. Find out more at: https://jewishlgbtqdonornetwork.org
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