Alongside the Jewish groups waving their banners at the country's many Gay Pride parades last month was a group of relative newcomers who —though technically on vacation this time of year — have become a major force in gay Jewish activism nationwide: college students.
Nathan Weiner, a recent graduate of George Washington University, is the executive director of the National Union of Jewish LGBTQQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning) Students and the overseer of its first-ever executive board. According to him, "There are probably about 10 or 15 self-sufficient, strong campus groups across the country." When including smaller groups, this number jumps to several dozen. Weiner is currently seeking to unify the dispersed groups under his umbrella organization.
"It's fairly recent that we've begun to pay attention to the needs of this group of students," said Mychal Copland, a Hillel rabbi who, since 2001, has helped found groups at Stanford and UCLA. "Many Hillels for years and years have hoped that they were welcoming to LGBT students, but didn't know what that really meant." Copland said that "Hillels are starting to go through that transformation" in much the same way that many synagogues and other communal organizations have refashioned themselves in a way that is more welcoming to gay members.
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