Religious organizations have always had a strong presence at Capital Pride. However, after realizing that the Christian community had almost four times the amount of organizations than the Jewish community, Nice Jewish Girls, decided the Washington, D.C. community deserved more.
In preparation for the upcoming Capital Pride festival on June 8, Nice Jewish Girls has led The Jacob’s Tent Project, a gathering of synagogues and other Jewish organizations from around the D.C. metro area that are coming together in one centralized location to better represent and serve Washington’s large Jewish population.
Nice Jewish Girls has been serving the D.C. LGBTQ community for almost a decade. NJG’s Director, A.J. Campbell is hopeful about this year’s Capital Pride celebration and the participation of Jewish organizations.
“D.C. is very peculiar in all of the United States because we are obviously one of the most gay cities in the states, but we’re also the fifth most Jewish,” says Campbell. “So at the nexus of those two things, is an incredibly rich gay, Jewish community.”
Over the last six months, Campbell and her team have been visiting synagogues all around the D.C. area to explain the importance of their presence and involvement in this years Capital Pride festival. What they found is that most synagogues had never really considered the event as a place to meet new members. In many cases, it was as simple as explaining that the festival was held on Sunday and not Saturday, which they originally thought might interfere with services.
“We have no less than five primary groups that are, in one way or another, addressing the gay Jewish community,” says Campbell. “We already had an underlying organization and we just knew that if the Jewish community would come and see what we’re all about, that they would want us as members, and trip over themselves trying to get us.”
Some synagogues and organizations participating in this year’s festival are Jews United for Justice, an organization committed to raising the minimum wage, Etz Chaim of Arlington, Tifereth Israel of DC, and Adas Israel, the largest conservative temple in Washington, D.C., which has made a huge effort to reach out to the LGBTQ community.
Hadassah is another organization that has reached out to join the festivities. “Hadassah is a very, very traditional Jewish women’s organization raising money for the Hadassah Medical Center in Israel,” explains Campbell. “If you can imagine your mother’s mother’s group.”
“By the fact that these organizations are here and they’re all together in the same place, they are showing a clear welcome sign that yes, if you’re gay and you want to join Hadassah and do charity work or want to join a synagogue, we want you. We want you in our midst,” says Campbell. “Not just ‘we’re LGBT-friendly’. No. ’we’re LGBT-welcoming.’ It’s a completely different paradigm. And I think that’s where the organizations were going. They just needed help completing that introduction in a very visible way. That’s the importance of The Jacob’s Tent Project.”
Nice Jewish Girls and The Jacob’s Tent Project are grateful for the support they have received from the community, especially the Capital Pride committee.
For more information about The Jacob’s Tent Project, please visit www.nicejewishgirlsdc.com/pride. If you would like to donate to this year’s festivities, please visit http://jewcer.com/project/the-jacob-s-tent-project.