Last week, a retired guidance counselor at a Jewish community day school told me about her seventh grade student who wanted to kill himself because he was gay. This didn’t happen years ago in a small town. This happened last year in a major metropolitan area with a liberal Jewish community.
What would it take for this gay student and so many other gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer Jews to feel proud and affirmed instead of isolated and ashamed?
This Shabbat, May 22, marks the first annual Harvey Milk Day.
Imagine Jewish communities across the country honoring the memory of this extraordinary activist, a gay Jew who knew how to transform despair into hope. Imagine rabbis dedicating their divrei Torah this week to Harvey Milk’s message of pride in identity. Imagine that seventh grade student walking into his classroom and seeing a poster of Harvey Milk on the wall along with the usual posters of Jerusalem and Jewish baseball players. The poster would present Harvey as an American Jewish hero and provide biographical information about his life.By this time next year, posters of Harvey Milk will, in fact, be on the walls of day school and Hebrew school classrooms around the country.
Keshet has partnered with our friends at Jewish Mosaic to produce a series of educational posters about famous GLBT Jews - of yesterday and today - who have transformed our world. Over the next several months, we’ll be sharing more about our GLBT Jewish poster series and how you can bring these posters to your community. If you or someone you know wants to be part of this project, we’re looking for some savvy researchers to help out over the summer.
May Harvey Milk’s memory be for a blessing, and may we continue heeding Harvey’s call that “All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.” Ken yehi ratzon. So may it be for us.
Executive Director, Keshet
A Few Great Ways to Honor Harvey Milk
A big thanks to our friends at The LGBT Alliance at The Jewish Community Federation and California Faith for Equality for this great compilation of ways to honor Harvey Milk and keep his vision alive.
- Read a brief history of Harvey Milk’s life
- See the text of Harvey Milk’s famous speech on hope
- Use a inspiring quotes from Harvey Milk to in a drash
- Say a prayer for Harvey Milk Day
- Learn the history of the Harvey Milk Day Bill
- Harvey Milk Day of Action is taking place nationally. Check out what is going on in your area.
- Explore educational and media based resources to help discuss hope, tikkun olam & diversity including this wonderful two minute animated version of Harvey’s famous “You Gotta Give Them Hope Speech.”
- If you haven’t yet seen the incredible documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, now is a perfect time. You can purchase the film or watch it online.