UJA Federation’s vision is to lead the most vibrant community in North America, characterized, in part, by its diversity. Despite a wide range of events, programs, and partner organizations, there are still segments of the community not involved in these activities for various reasons, including apathy and competing interests. To expand UJA’s reach, a new LGBTQ+ Young Family Connector role has been created with the goal of engaging LGBTQ+ families. The Young Family Connector Program is a new UJA and KCJE initiative created to build an onramp to meaningful Jewish living by meeting young parents where they are. A young family’s need for guidance, social connection, and sense of community, as well as structured programming and childcare, creates a significant opportunity to increase Jewish communal engagement. An LGBTQ+ connector will strive to engage young families to build a deeper connection to Jewish community and empower them to learn more about Jewish practices.
UJA and PJ Library are committed to creating a safe and inclusive space for those identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community, LGBTQ+ allies, and those who want to network, advocate for, and strengthen our community to help make an impact.
We are pleased to introduce you to Laine Halpern Zisman (she/her).
Laine is a sexual diversity consultant and lecturer. She completed her PhD in 2018 in theatre and sexual diversity studies and was a post-doctoral research fellow at Brock University from 2019 -2021. She is editor of Canadian Scholar’s collected volume, “Women and Popular Culture in Canada,” and co-editor of the second edition of Queerly Canadian (forthcoming). Laine also received an MA in Drama and MFA in Documentary Media in 2013. She was co-founder of Equity in Theatre and founder of Toronto’s Queer Theory Working Group (UofT 2013-2018). Laine now lives in Toronto with her wife and new baby.
Quote from a participant at one of Laine’s events:
I just wanted to share with you what a fabulous event your Queer Family Coordinator Laine ran yesterday. My family attended and the whole thing was so lovely and heymish. My kids (8 & 5) had an amazing time even though the other kids in attendance were almost all under 1 years old, and my eldest shared the event made them feel "not alone.”
It was so meaningful to be able to look around at a gathering of Queer Jewish families, and to hear about their family building experiences and their lives generally in a Queer normative setting. We're already looking forward to the next event. – Lauren Schreiber-Sasaki