Announcing the 2019 LGBTQIA JewV’Nation Cohort!

Inside Leadership

Announcing the 2019 LGBTQIA JewV’Nation Cohort!

Peoples hands together in a circle as if they are working together or celebrating

The URJ's successful JewV’Nation Fellowship is expanding to include a new LGBTQIA+ cohort – and there's no better time for it.

In 2017, the Union for Reform Judaism launched the first JewV’Nation Fellowship. The first Leadership Cohort was created out of a desire to develop outreach projects to foster community around interfaith and intersectional identities within the Jewish world - an aspect of Jewish life that was, and still is, in need of attention and repair.

After the first cohort’s projects successfully reached more than 1,000 people, the URJ took an even more ambitious approach in 2018: a cohort specifically for Jewish leaders of Color to develop projects that transform the landscape of Jewish living for and by Jews of Color.

We provided our fellows the space to make their mark on the Reform Jewish landscape, and in return, they are developing training materials for youth professionals and religious school educators, sharing their stories in blog posts, and brainstorming fresh and new ways to build inclusive communities and promote diversity in institutional leadership. One example of this cohort’s most recent achievements came just a few weeks ago, when a group explicitly for Jews of Color was launched in The Tent, the collaborative communications platform for Reform Jewish lay and professional leaders; this new online space allows Jews of Color across North America to connect, network, and collaborate on their projects and initiatives.

In March, the Jews of Color Cohort attended a leadership retreat that received overwhelmingly positive responses.

“This weekend was validating and inspiring,” said one fellow. “I have never felt more comfortable, seen, loved and at home so quickly with so many people before. I wish we were together all the time!”

Another fellow said, “This retreat changed how I feel about my identity. I have a stronger sense of purpose: as a leader, a Jew, and a woman of color…During the weekend, I became validated, empowered, and strengthened. I cannot wait for what the future holds!”

These reactions are proof that representation in leadership development matters. We're thrilled that so many of these fellows found validation, inspiration, and strength through the retreat and that they continue to learn and grow in our twice-monthly sessions.

These cohorts have proven that while there is much work to be done in making our Jewish communities audaciously hospitable, there are many brilliant and bold leaders from across North America to turn these goals into realities.

To follow up on the ongoing work and achievements of the first two cohorts, the URJ’s Audacious Hospitality team is proud to is launch its third JewV’Nation cohort, this time for LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) Jewish leaders.

This new cohort, like its predecessors, was conceived from a need to foster and create Jewish spaces rooted in diversity and inclusiveness. An estimated 10% of North American Jews identify as LGBTQIA+, but they have long been the target of discrimination, within both the Jewish community and in the world at large. It's vital that we provide LGBTQIA+ Jewish leaders the resources to create more open and inclusive Jewish spaces and to make their voices heard both here and in the various communities they serve.

In addition to launching this new cohort, the URJ recently published the LGBTQ Educational Resource Module, designed to educate congregations and communities about how to create more inclusive environments for all their members. This resource module led to the creation of the LGBTQ Online Learning Series, a six-session series that ran throughout this summer and provided participants with ways to create welcoming and safe communities for LGBTQ individuals and families. We are hopeful and excited about the projects and initiatives our LGBTQIA+ Cohort fellows will develop to execute, expanding upon these resources and transforming their communities into safer havens of inclusivity.

The JewV’Nation Fellowship has been proudly funded by a grant from the Fund for Jews of Color Field Building, the Genesis Philanthropy Group, and a generous URJ donor in collaboration with the Jewish Funders Network. This specific cohort is also made possible by a generous grant by an anonymous donor.

For more information about the JewV’Nation Fellowship, visit If you identify as Jewish and LGBTQIA+ and want to help strengthen Reform Judaism, apply to the Jew V’Nation Fellowship today! The deadline to apply is October 4, 2018 and interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis. Selected applicants will be announced in late October.

Have something to say about this post? Join the conversation in The Tent, the social network for congregational leaders of the Reform Movement. You can also tweet us or tell us how you feel on Facebook.

April Baskin, a longtime advocate for Jewish diversity and inclusion, is a graduate of Tufts University, a member of the Selah Leadership Network, and an alumna of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation's Insight Fellowship and Jews United for Justice's Jeremiah Fellowship in Washington, D.C. She most recently served as the vice president of Audacious Hospitality at the Union for Reform Judaism. In addition, she previously served as the national director of resources and training at and president of the Jewish Multiracial Network.


April Baskin

Published: 8/21/2018

Find More in The Tent

Learn more about this exciting new platform, where Reform congregational leaders connect with colleagues and peers who have similar concerns, interests and responsibilities.