Name: Joe Hyman
Role (Voluntary, Trustee, Staff): Young Adult Programmer
What does being part of JW3 mean to you?
Throughout my life, I have been involved in lots of different projects throughout the Jewish community in the UK. These projects never felt like places I could celebrate my gay identity and I never felt safe to share that part of myself. Working at JW3 is an antidote to those experiences and provides me the hope that the wider UK Jewish community will become a space where all LGBT+ Jews will be welcome, included and celebrated. It’s exciting that the programmes we create are able to shape the narrative around LGBT+ Jews and to create community for those who don’t have community due to exclusion. Having LGBT+ colleagues at JW3 is a huge part of my experience in the office and ensures I have peers to connect with about times when my identity comes into conversation with my work.
What does being part of the LGBTQI+ community/an ally working towards a more inclusive Jewish community mean to you and your organisation?
JW3 is the cross-communal centre of our Jewish community in London and that means a huge amount to me. Through our community and arts programming, JW3 is able to raise LGBT+ voices that are not often heard elsewhere and to create a space for LGBT+ people to feel safe and celebrated. It’s exciting to have management that feel LGBT+ programming is important and vital. We are launching an LGBT+ café for 18-26 year olds, in our next season, to provide a safe space and explore issues relating to being LGBT+. We are also hosting PRIDE’ay night dinner to celebrate Pride and showcase LGBT+ performers and artists.
Who is your LGBTQI+ role model and what have you learnt from them?
Growing up in the closet, I often didn’t see other Jews like me and in the absence of role models, I wasn’t able to envision my future. This changed when I interacted with Laynie Solomon and Rabbi Avi Strausberg and learnt Torah with them at Yeshivat Hadar in New York. They taught me how vital it is that LGBT voices are added to the perennial conversation and discussion of Torah and Jewish community. They both model what it means to be observant Jews who hold together all their identities with pride and grace. Through knowing them, I gain immense strength and I have learnt how important it is to be kind to yourself, to believe there is a seat for you at every table and that the world is a richer place when all voices our included. Role models in the work place are also vital and having Mekella Broomberg as Head of Arts and Culture at JW3 is incredibly special and she provides a wealth of experience and knowledge that supports me on a daily basis.