Robbie Medwed

Robbie Medwed

SOJOURN Assistant Director Robbie Medwed is going to Salzburg, Austria, this month to participate in a global think tank addressing LGBTQ issues in the Jewish community.

Medwed is one of 60 LGBTQ leaders and allies selected from applicants in 30 countries to attend Eighteen:22 from Aug. 11 to 13. None of the other attendees lives in Georgia.

Eighteen:22, whose name comes from the frequently cited Leviticus verse banning gay male relationships, is a new organization that aims to connect local Jewish LGBTQ activists worldwide to facilitate improvements in people’s lives.

To that end, the application focused on local work for equality and how those efforts would fit a global approach, Medwed said. “There are things that we’re doing really well in Atlanta that we can teach to others and tactics and programs I’m sure we’ll be able to learn from others. I hope that Eighteen:22 will be a chance for those of us involved in grassroots education and activism to combine all of our efforts to create change across the world.”

The think tank’s first forum will convene less than two weeks after the stabbing attack on the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance. Yishai Schlissel killed a 16-year-old girl, Shira Banki, and wounded five others in a religiously motivated assault.

“I’ve never been one to sit back and hope that someone else will step up and make things better for LGBTQ Jews,” Medwed said. “It’s up to those of us who are willing to put ourselves out there to help create change around the world.”

Eighteen:22, an initiative backed by the Schusterman Family Foundation, hopes that the global forum will serve as a model for LGBTQ inclusion for other faith groups and cultural traditions.