Pride in London: Ten LGBT Jews inspiring change

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Pride in London: Ten LGBT Jews inspiring change

Ahead of this weekend's event celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, in partnership with KeshetUK we take a look at 10 prime movers shaping attitudes and acceptance of LGBT+ Jews in Britain

Loud and proud: Jewish participants at last year’s  London Pride with Reform Judaism’s Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner (centre)
Loud and proud: Jewish participants at last year’s  London Pride with Reform Judaism’s Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner (centre)

Shaan Surat Knan

Shaan is one of the most vocal and visible campaigners within and beyond the Jewish community on LGBT+ inclusion, inspiring people with his openness during his transition.

As founder of oral history projects Rainbow Jews, Twilight People and Rainbow Pilgrims, Shaan has secured Lottery Heritage funding to bring the lives and lessons of LGBT+ Jews and LGBT+ people from a range of cultures to tens of thousands of people across the UK.

Shaan works for Liberal Judaism and through the Rainbow Pilgrims project has campaigned for the repeal of anti-gay laws in the Commonwealth Shaan says: “It’s perfectly fine to be trans and a person of faith. Don’t let anyone tell you the opposite.”

Shaan Surat Knan. Credit: Christa Holka @twilightpeople

Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah 

Rabbi Elli is a fearless, thoughtful and feminist activist and author.  She is a pioneer of lesbian and gay inclusion, spearheading the changes within Liberal Judaism, which culminated in new policy and the creation of an anthology of ceremonies. Prior to the rabbinate she engaged in feminist activism, research, writing and editing.

Her leadership has included work at the Women’s Research and Resources Centre collective, which created the Jewish feminist magazine, Shifra, and being assistant editor of Women’s Studies International Forum.

Before moving to Brighton, where she’s been rabbi for 18 years, she was director of programmes for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain and the Sternberg  Centre’s deputy director.

Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah

Isabella Segal

Isabella is a pioneering trans activist and role model. As head of forensic accounting at Nyman Libson Paul and the partner responsible for diversity and inclusion at the firm, Isabella has advocated and advanced the visibility and inclusion of trans people within the business community. This was recognised in 2014 and 2015, with Isabella appearing in the Top 100 LGBT lists of OUTstanding, an LGBT professional networking and campaigning group.

Isabella has shared her story through media and inspired audiences at Limmud, University of the 3rd Age and Bushey Synagogue.

Isabella is an ambassador for Transformation Diversity & Inclusion and gives talks for Diversity Role Models on homophobia and transphobia. in schools.

Isabella Segal

Elliot Jebreel

Elliot is a passionate, persuasive and at times provocative advocate for embracing the full range of diverse identities in UK Jewish life.

As a trustee of Sephardi Voices UK, Elliot has expanded understanding beyond the Jewish community of the rich cultures of Jews across the globe, including with a recent exhibition at the Jewish Museum in London.

Elliot co-founded the Jewish network of the civil service, is an alumnus of the Adam Science Foundation Leadership Programme, and co-chairs the programme team for Limmud Festival 2018. Elliot is now a civil servant and has worked in the Department for Work and Pensions, and at the Treasury. He also sits as a magistrate on the Central London bench.

Elliot Jebreel

Joe Hyman 

Joe has inspired hundreds of young people, students and community members with his bravery in discussing his experience of being gay and having a commitment to halachic Judaism.

Currently studying at Yeshivat Hadar in New York City, Joe has held voluntary and professional roles nurturing and nourishing Jewish communities from Leeds to London through Leeds J-Soc, Central London Friday night dinners and Bnei Akiva.

Joe worked with Bnei Akiva leaders to find sensitive ways to approach Judaism and sexuality, culminating in changes to how the movement responds to homosexuality and a powerful and unprecedented talk given by Joe to BA leaders, which was seen online by thousands.

Joe Hyman

Peggy Sherwood MBE

Peggy Sherwood MBE was recognised in 2017 for her service to the Jewish community and for championing inclusion after 15 years as President of the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group (now the Jewish LGBT+ Group), the longest such established group in the world.

Having been the only woman when she first attended a JGLG event, Peggy is particularly proud of the growing participation and leadership demonstrated by women and non-binary people within the group.

During her tenure, JGLG built bridges through joint events with Imaan, a group for LGBT+ Muslims, and by initiating an interfaith pride service which brought together Christians, Jews, Quakers and Muslims.

Peggy Sherwood receiving her MBE

Rabbi Mark Solomon 

Rabbi Mark Solomon was the first UK Orthodox rabbi to come out as gay, having studied for the rabbinate at the Lubavitcher Yeshivah Gedolah in Melbourne, Kfar Chabad in Israel, and Jews’ College, London. Rabbi Solomon is currently the rabbi for Liberal Jewish communities in Edinburgh and Leicester.

Recognising his deep commitment to interfaith dialogue, he was appointed the first interfaith consultant for Liberal Judaism. Rabbi Solomon is co-chair of the London Society of Jews and Christians, co-convenor of Westminster Scriptural Reasoning, and a regular participant and speaker at the annual Jewish-Christian-Muslim conferences and Jewish-Christian Bible Week in Germany.

Rabbi Mark Solomon

Natalie Grazin 

As one of the first Lead Gamechangers, co-chair of governors at Alma Jewish primary school, and co-founder of Imahot v’Avot (a group for families with same-sex parents), Natalie is a pioneering lay leader advancing pluralist and diverse education and community.

Natalie is a coach and organisational consultant, formerly at McKinsey, and works with clients in senior management and clinical roles across the NHS. Natalie deploys her skills to develop the impact and leadership of a range of Jewish charities, including JW3 and UJIA.

Before joining McKinsey, Natalie worked with the International Partnership for Innovative Healthcare Delivery and The Health Foundation.

Natalie Grazin

Hannah Taylor 

As head of operations at the Faith & Belief Forum (formerly 3FF), Hannah spearheads projects tackling prejudice and building bridges across communities during times of increased violence and polarisation in the UK.

Previously, Hannah worked at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue specialising in the use of social media to influence attitudes, tackle intolerance and inspire social change.

This included leading the Nothing Holy about Hatred initiative tacking homophobia with and within faith communities.

With a background in equality and diversity, particularly in relation to faith, interfaith and LGBT issues, Hannah is also a trustee for the LGBT Consortium.

Hannah is a proud and passionate leader who combines patience, pragmatism and proper northern spirit and humour to make Britain a safer and stronger society.

Hannah Taylor

Michael Etherton

As chief executive of UK Jewish Film, Michael’s commercial and creative skills have expanded UK Jewish Film onto the international stage, producing and programming film festivals in Geneva, Hong Kong, Zurich, Montreal and Tel Aviv.

He has also established major year-round partnerships in London and across the UK, expanding the programme to more than 450 additional films annually.

Michael has recently overseen a National Lottery-funded educational outreach programme and has launched a new FilmLab programme to inspire and support work from a new generation of filmmakers.

A champion of diversity in the arts, Michael is musical director of Mosaic Voices, chairman of the Young Actors Theatre, Islington, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Michael Etherton

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