“We want queer Jews to know they have a home in the broader Jewish community,” says Josef Palermo, director of the Kurlander Program for GLBTQ Outreach and Engagement at the Edlavitch D.C. Jewish Community Center.
As one of the leading LGBTQ Jewish groups in the D.C. area, GLOE often looks at religious issues through a modern-day queer lens. For instance, to mark Yom HaShoah, the day of remembrance for the Holocaust, the group took a private tour of the Holocaust Museum — led by an openly gay survivor of the Holocaust.
GLOE also holds a monthly “Torah & Sexuality” study series on the second Tuesday of every month, with the next meeting, on Dec. 11, examining the Jewish tradition of niddah, in which menstruating women are separated from the rest of the tribe, and how reclaiming the practice can help LGBTQ people rediscover intimacy in relationships.
“In addition to religious content, we do social events like happy hours and ‘Drag Yenta’ brunches,” says Palermo. “We’re really just trying to get the community together, for as many events, in whatever way possible.”
To celebrate Hanukkah, the eight day festival of light that concludes on Dec. 10, GLOE is co-hosting its annual “Gaydel, Gaydel, Gaydel” happy hour at Pitchers on Dec. 6. Palermo says it’s a welcome chance to socialize that goes beyond his own typical holiday celebration, which involves a quiet night at home lighting the menorah, cooking latkes, and watching the Adam Goldberg comedy, The Hebrew Hammer.
GLOE also stresses the importance of social justice through initiatives like D25, when Jewish people in the D.C. area are asked to perform volunteer service projects on Christmas Day. For its part, GLOE will be helping fix up Casa Ruby’s Georgia Avenue center and serving meals to needy clients of the LGBTQ community center.
“The basic idea is that, in addition to the traditions of Chinese food and movies on Christmas,” says Palermo. “We encourage people to get out in their community and serve in whatever way they can.”
GLOE’s “Gaydel, Gaydel, Gaydel” Happy Hour is on Thursday, Dec. 6 from 6-9 p.m. at Pitchers, 2317 18th St. NW. Its monthly Torah & Sexuality study, “Blood, Power, and Purity,” is on Tuesday, Dec. 11, from 7-8 p.m. at Sixth and I Synagogue, 600 I St. NW. For more information, visit facebook.com/edcjcc.gloe.