Over the past year Keshet, the nation's largest organization working for LGBTQ equality in all facets of Jewish life, has launched new teen leadership programs, mobilized a Jewish community campaign to protect the rights of transgender Americans, and offered training to Jewish leaders on how to make their institutions more inclusive.
In Chicago, Keshet recently added a full-time staff member dedicated to advancing LGBTQ equality in the Chicago Jewish community. Essie Shachar-Hill is Keshet's first full-time Education and Training Manager in Chicago.
"People have this idea that Chicago is such a liberal place, and there aren't any issues of people not feeling included. Many well-meaning institutions think that saying 'everyone is welcome here' is enough. It's not! I'm excited for Jewish Chicago to continue to do the internal work of meeting the needs of LGBTQ folks, and then explicitly sharing that message," Shachar-Hill said.
Shachar-Hill helped launch the Chicagoland Keshet Leadership Project, with 22 local organizations participating in the inaugural cohort. The year-long program equips participating organizations to critically examine their policies, programming, and culture and to take tangible steps to becoming more LGBTQ-inclusive in these areas.
To find out more or apply to participate in the next cohort, starting December 2019, visit