Celebrating all who work with the Jewish community and for equality
Each February in the UK marks LGBT History Month. This month is a way for all people to celebrate the contribution of LGBT people to the UK, acknowledge the fight for equality and promote the key tenets of inclusion and diversity & the benefits to the public.
At the JLC we wanted to find a way to embrace this, to profile the people and projects within our member organisations that are working towards LGBT equality and advancing inclusion. When many within our community have experienced concerns about growing prejudice targeting Jewish people, this month offers an opportunity to focus on a positive part we can all play in protecting and providing for the diverse people within our community.
We have reached out to all our members and are collating responses; we wanted to hear about the different projects and the amazing people that are making a difference. Each project or person plays a vital role in helping to shape the future of LGBT inclusion within the UK Jewish Community, and it is a pleasure to be a part of highlighting that to the rest of the community.
Over the past few years, the Jewish Community of the UK has been through a lot, there has been more focus on us in the media, in politics and on our streets and we have been resilient and loud in our response to calling out antisemitism wherever it has taken a hold. Our members have been at the forefront of this as well as running a myriad of other projects, including positive ones like the ones we are highlighting here.
Some of those highlighted have been involved in improving inclusion in their places of work including with training from Keshet UK. Some feature the dedicated professionals and volunteers who are contributing to religious life, community services and enriching Jewish culture. Some showcase the broader benefits to organisations and communities of harnessing the rich diversity of identities and talents of those who bring their full selves to their work. ALL the people and projects demonstrate the solidarity, strength and joy that come from fighting for equality and embracing diversity.
We are so proud that our member organisations cover a broad range of expertise and that they reflect such a large proportion of the UK Jewish Population. We hope that in highlighting these projects, everyone can feel a little more proud of our community.
Name: Miki Vyse
Role: External Affairs Manager, Yorkshire, East Coast and The East Midlands
Organisation: Jewish Leadership Council
What does being part of this organisation mean to you?
I’ve worked for the JLC for nearly three years now. I have seen the organisation go from strength to strength and I have seen first-hand the hard work that goes in to every aspect of our work. As an LGBT person, I have spent my entire professional career working for faith institutions or organisations, it is often a contentious talking point when people ask about my job, but it rarely is within the actual organisation. I am the only Catholic person that currently works for the Jewish Leadership Council. This means that at times I have to explain to people from other faiths who wouldn’t understand things. It also means that I have been on a complete learning curve about Judaism (which I have thoroughly enjoyed) but mostly it means that I get to bring a different perspective to some conversations. The diversity of our team gets to work to make the JLC stronger.
What does being part of the LGBT+ community or ally mean as part of your organisation? (Is there anything your organisation has recently done for the LGBT+ community that you would like to discuss?)
As an LGBT person, when you apply for a job, it can be the most daunting task – not knowing how you will be received, interpreted or whether you’ll be able to be your whole self at work. Being LGBT is a key part of my identity and is something that I am not willing to hide at work.
At the JLC we are proud to be a developing as an organisation. We are an organisation that is growing and changing. We are always looking for more ways to improve. This includes our processes and policies, making them more inclusive and making our organisation a welcoming place for LGBT staff.
It also means opening our doors. Alongside PaJeS & Lead we took part in LGBT Training delivered by KeshetUK. I have been LGBT my whole life and I learnt things, and I know my colleagues learnt an incredible amount. We have since encouraged all our member organisations to work with KeshetUK.
Who is your LGBT+ Role Model and what have you learnt from them?
I always find explaining who my LGBT role models are really difficult. This is because I think there are so many that have positively influenced me. Whether it’s Ellen DeGeneres who was the first person I ever heard say the word lesbian without mumbling it, or Harvey Milk one of the first openly gay US politicians, or whether it’s someone closer to home like Angela Eagle MP. Someone like Michael Cashman MBE or whether it is my all-time favourite (and best in the world) footballer Megan Rapinoe - a woman who has stood up for everything she believes in, stood loud and proud and fought for not just her own rights but for every other minority.