World Congress of GLBT Jews

A History of The World Congress: Keshet Ga’avah

The first gay and lesbian Jewish organization in the world was the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group formed in London in 1972.  It was followed by the first gay and lesbian synagogue in Los Angeles, Beth Chayim Chadashim in 1972, and New York’s Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in 1973.  By 1975, lesbian and gay Jewish organizations were also active in San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Miami.  When the United Nations voted in 1975 to declare that Zionism equals racism, many gay and lesbian Jews felt that there should be a gay and lesbian response.  A meeting was called in New York and this eventually became a loose network of organizations.

In 1976, two meetings were held in Washington, D.C..  The first was held in February with representatives from Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Montreal, Toronto, and Tel Aviv, to discuss common concerns and set in motion a way for gay and lesbian Jews to work together.  In August, thanks to their efforts, several dozen representatives of these organizations attended the First International Conference of Gay Jews.

Then in 1977, New York hosted the Second International Conference of Gay Jews with over 200 people attending.  At this conference the name was changed to the International Conference of Gay and Lesbian Jews.  Subsequent conferences were held in Los Angeles in 1978 and Israel in 1979. In 1980 in San Francisco, the World Congress of Gay and Lesbian Jewish Organizations was officially born with a Management Committee elected to run its affairs and the creation of By-Laws.
 Since 1980, the organization has changed its name several times, and is now known as The World Congress: Keshet Ga’avah.  The Hebrew name means rainbow of pride and reflects the importance of Israel to our organization.  It has member organizations worldwide, and holds annual board meetings as well as both regional and world conferences.  Our mission is to be the worldwide voice of Jews of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities (LGBTQIA+).