A history of the World Congress of GLBT Jews: 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 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 of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews: 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. The World Congress’ mission is to be the worldwide voice of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Jews.
1st International Conference Washington DC (USA) 1976
2nd New York NY (USA) 1977
3rd Los Angeles CA (USA) 1978
4th Tel Aviv (Israel) 1979
5th San Francisco CA (USA) 1980
6th Philadelphia PA (USA) 1981
7th Los Angeles CA (USA) 1982
8th Miami FL (USA) 1983
9th Washington DC (USA) 1985
10th Amsterdam (Netherlands) 1987
11th Chicago IL (USA) 1989
12th San Francisco CA (USA) 1991
13th London (UK) 1993
14th New York NY (USA) 1995
15th Dallas TX (USA) 1997 World Conference
16th Woodcliff Lake NJ (USA) 2000
17th Tel Aviv/Givat Haviva (Israel) 2002
18th All-Americas Conference Mexico City (Mexico) 2004
19th Mini-conference at WorldPride Jerusalem (Israel) 2006
20th Los Angeles CA (USA) 2010
21st World Conference Winnipeg, Manitoba (CANADA)2013
This video shows the first Pride assembly in Israel 30 years ago. At that time, we were knows as "Neimim" and "Neimot," which we later changed to "Geyim" and "Geyot." In any case, the idea was to peacefully state the obvious: we are here, we are queer (LGBT), get used to it." But the video also shows three women who are adamantly opposed to same-sex relationships, as well as a young man who says that it doesn’t bother him, so long as "they" enjoy "it."
The World Congress changed its name to The World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews: Keshet Ga’avah by a mail-in ballot in February, 2001.