By Rebecca Stapel-Wax | SOJOURN Executive Director

The mission of SOJOURN: Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity is to promote understanding, acceptance and inclusion of individuals across the entire spectrum of gender and sexual orientation through education, outreach and advocacy.

Rebecca Stapel-Wax, SOJOURN Executive Director

Rebecca Stapel-Wax,
SOJOURN Executive Director

Most of our programs, reaching 3,000 people in the past year, were in larger groups. Over 5776, we plan to increase our work with more youth by creating a leadership program that will culminate in an interfaith youth retreat at Camp Ramah Darom next fall.

The Welcoming Communities Project has been so successful here in Atlanta, in Birmingham and in the other Southern cities we have consulted with. An expansion to more cities will enhance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusion practices within Jewish organizations in our unique Southeast region.

With the advent of marriage equality, there are opportunities to highlight other significant issues, such as gender/transgender experiences (violence, discrimination, health care access).

There is also important legislation to create a hate-crimes bill and to resume the fight against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This past spring our Jewish community was pivotal in stopping that discriminatory legislation, and it is likely we will have to work together again to keep it gone for good.