Rebecca Stapel-Wax, co-founder and executive director, SOJOURN
SOJOURN: Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity promotes the understanding and acceptance of people in the Southeast across the entire spectrum of gender and sexual orientations through education, outreach, and advocacy, inspired by Jewish and universal ethics and ideals.
Stapel-Wax became the director of The Rainbow Center of Jewish Family & Career Services in 2004. The Rainbow Project later separated from JF&CS to become SOJOURN, with the same mission and expanded efforts. Through partnerships, the organization has expanded beyond the Atlanta area to neighboring states.
The outreach efforts include film programs, and a program that assesses an organization’s inclusiveness and openness is being applied to the entire Birmingham Jewish community over 10 months this year.
SOJOURN led the protests this spring when Jewish National Fund planned to honor First Baptist Atlanta Senior Pastor Charles Stanley, then Stapel-Wax was at the forefront of efforts to reconcile both sides.
Stapel-Wax has also coordinated the Jewish contingent in the Atlanta Pride Parade, which last year included 200 Jews, 15 rabbis and 36 Jewish organizations. SOJOURN serves as one of the parade’s 12 grand marshals.
Stapel-Wax works with many more Jewish organizations, regardless of denomination. Georgia Equality, a secular LGBT advocacy group, honored SOJOURN on June 20 for uniting the Jewish community in LGBT support.
“This was a momentous year for the Jewish community and their activism,” Stapel-Wax said. “There are so many strengths in our community.”