YCT Launches LGBTQ+ Community Initiatives and Welcomes Its First Director

September 28, 2022

headshot of david pernick

YCT is pleased to announce the launch of its LGBTQ+ Community Initiatives and the hiring of David Pernick as Director of the Initiatives.

The LGBTQ+ Community Initiatives project seeks to help create a culture of true inclusion in Orthodox communities for our gay, trans, and queer members.

The need for such a project is real and urgent. Our rabbis-in-the-field are regularly fielding pastoral, communal, and halakhic questions from and regarding its LGBTQ+ members, and they are turning to us for guidance and support. Heightening the urgency is the fact the LGBTQ+ community gets repeated signals, both implicit and explicit, that they are not wanted in the Orthodox community. We ourselves have had our own challenges in this area and the need to do better pushes us forward in this work.  

We are guided in these efforts by our understanding of the Torah and Torah values. We believe that a community that embodies Torah values is one that cares for, supports, and affords maximum dignity and respect to every one of its members and that we must do what we can to help make this a reality.

YCT will focus its efforts in three areas: 

(1) running programs and events in partnering communities with the goal of educating and advancing the discourse around these issues and of helping the community become more aware of and sensitive to its gay, trans, and queer members and their lived realities; 

(2) developing resources for rabbis and their communities, including guidance from Jewish leaders who have made meaningful steps forward;

(3) advancing the state of the halakhic discourse in these matters.

David Pernick, who as Director of LGBTQ+ Community Initiatives will oversee and drive these efforts, is a graduate of Tufts University and is currently pursuing a Masters of Social Work at Stony Brook University specializing in mental health care for Jewish, LGBTQ+, and youth populations.

As Chovevei believes strongly in the principle of “Nothing about us without us,” David—himself a member of the LGBTQ+ community—will be devoting his first two months in the position to a listening tour across the U.S. There he hopes to hear from LGBTQ+ members of Orthodox communities, as well as from those who have left Orthodoxy, about their priorities and how they believe we can be most helpful and impactful in our work.

YCT is grateful to the leadership of Eshel for its input and wise counsel these last few months as we have worked to best shape this project and its goals. We look forward to partnering with Eshel in many of these initiatives and hope to collaborate with additional organizations as we move forward.

This project came about as a result of a years-long process that Chovevei Torah has been undergoing to determine what role it can play in this area so that it can help make our communities truly inclusive of all our members.

With our network of almost 200 alumni-rabbis, we have the opportunity to partner with many rabbis and communities who share our goals so that we can together effect real change—in individual communities and, hopefully and eventually, in the Orthodox community as a whole.

May the new year ahead be one in which we are able to see the divine in every individual and give each person the dignity and respect that they deserve, so that they know that they are loved, welcomed and valued by God and by the Jewish community as well.

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