More than 80 students from across the country and Canada gathered at American University Hillel in the District this past weekend for the National Union of Jewish LGBT Students (NUJLS) annual conference entitled "Advocating Our Identities." NUJLS is a national organization that aims to bring together Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied students from different communities to create new friendships and celebrate LGBT and Jewish identity. Participants in this year's 15th annual conference enjoyed Shabbat and Havdalah services, workshops and break out sessions that focused on identity formation and advocacy. Students also heard from various speakers including Neil Kerwin, president of American University; Wayne Firestone, president of Hillel International, the Foundation for Campus Jewish Life; and Dan Furmansky, campaign director of Standing on the Side of Love and former director of Equality Maryland, an organization that promotes full LGBT equality in the Maryland. Jonathan Lipton, chair of NUJLS and junior at AU, explained that he got onboard with the conference after attending his first one last year....
LGBT Jews from the across the country gathered at AU last weekend for a conference on navigating the challenges of being both Jewish and gay. The National Union of LGBT Jewish Students organized the three-day conference “Advocating our Identity.” NUJLS is a relatively new organization, and AU students wanted to bring the 15th annual conference to AU after going to a similar conference in Boston last year, AU Hillel Associate Director Mindy Hirsch said. The conference was primarily sponsored by AU Hillel, AU’s GLBTA Resource Center, the Embassy of Israel, the Human Rights Campaign and national Jewish and LGBT advocacy organizations.
Hillel, SPECTRUM and Elon University’s LGBTQ office joined forces to send three students to the 2012 National Union of Jewish LGBT Students (NUJLS) conference, Advocating Our Identities. Hillel director Nancy Luberoff said she was determined to figure out a way to get students to go to the conference, held at American University, from the moment she learned about it. Luberoff reached out to SPECTRUM and offered for Hillel to pay the travel and registration fee. She said she was happy to have two non-Jewish students willing to participate in the conference. “I think it’s important for all organizations on campus to have good relationships,” said junior Lauren Clapp, who is invovled in SPECTRUM and attended the conference.
A small and close-knit group, the queer Jewish community represents a double minority – a minority of Jews are LGBT, and a minority of the LGBT community is Jewish. So it’s no surprise that attendees at last weekend’s annual conference of the National Union of Jewish LGBT Students found the conference helpful simply because it gathered together so many students with a similar identity. “There’s a part of me that was always really curious: What would it be like to be the majority?” Steven Philp, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, said. “That’s the interesting thing about walking into this room.” (Philp used to blog for New Voices.) NUJLS gathered at American University in Washington, D.C. for its 15th annual conference last weekend, bringing students from across the country together to discuss the intersection between the LGBT community and Jewish life.
Have you ever walked into a room and known that you shared two distinct identities with every person in it? I have. Last weekend, Jake Farris, Matthew Readdick and I were lucky enough to attend the 15th Annual National Union of Jewish LGBT Students Conference in Washington, DC. This Conference, entitled “Advocating our Identities,” took place at American University, and was organized with the intention of bringing LGBT Jewish high school, undergraduate, and graduate students in the United States and Canada together to better understand the intersection of their somewhat uncommon identities and meet others who share them. Over 80 students from over 25 campuses were present for the conference. Through a series of workshops, including ones such as “Coming Out 101” and “Organizing Queer Jewish Life on Campus,” as well as “Mishpacha” discussion groups, we learned more about our identities and collected valuable resources to bring back to our respective campuses. The conference also featured a variety of significant speakers, such as Arthur Slepian, founder and Executive Director of “A Wider Bridge,” an organization that sends LGBT American Jewish students to Israel to meet their Israeli counterparts, and Dan Furmansky, former Executive Director of Equality Maryland and Campaign Leader of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign, a campaign that seeks to raise compassionate religious voices to influence public policy and attitudes toward LGBT individuals.