Keshet | keshetonline.org
Idit Klein has worked as the executive director of Keshet since 2001. In that time, she has built Keshet from a one-person, $35k annual budget, local organization to a nine-person, over $850k organization with national reach. She has led numerous successful organizing efforts at synagogues, schools, and Jewish organizations around the country. Under her leadership, Keshet mobilized over 30 Massachusetts congregations to help defeat the proposed anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment. Klein also served as the executive producer of the documentary film, Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School. Prior to Keshet, Klein was an activist in the queer women’s community in Israel and played a role in early organizing around the creation of the Jerusalem Open House. She worked for social justice organizations in Jerusalem and in Boston including Shatil, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research & Information, and Community Work Services. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and received a Master of Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a focus on social justice and anti-oppression education. Idit was among eight recipients of the 2003-2005 Joshua Venture Fellowship for young Jewish social entrepreneurs. She is a past fellow and current board member of the Jewish Organizing Initiative and was honored by the Jewish Women’s Archive with a Women Who Dared award.
Keshet was founded with a vision of a Jewish community that celebrates the full diversity of gender and sexual orientation – not as a departure from Jewish tradition but as an authentically Jewish perspective. Initially founded as a Boston area initiative for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) inclusion in Jewish life, Keshet has grown from a small, grassroots group working for change in Boston into a robust organization with national impact. A three-pronged strategy is utilized for creating change in the Jewish community: 1) Training educators and youth professionals; 2) Producing and disseminating resources; and 3) Building the capacity of local leaders to implement effective programs for GLBT inclusion in their own communities. Through intensive trainings for Jewish educators and community leaders, the documentary film Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School, which tells the story of a 16-year-old Jewish lesbian struggling to remain true to her dual identities, and a comprehensive companion curriculum, Keshet has created a model for relevant, inclusive Jewish education. In addition to training between 50-60 Jewish educators annually to be certified Jewish Safe Schools facilitators, Keshet’s Safe Schools program is being replicated in three cities (Detroit, San Diego, and Los Angeles) outside of Boston. Since Keshet started working nationally three years ago, over 3,500 local and national Jewish educators, clergy, lay leaders, and youth have participated in a Keshet training. We estimate that our indirect impact, through the trainings many of those individuals have facilitated in their home communities and through our resources, is in the tens of thousands.