Earlier this month, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) announced the establishment of an LGBTQ Advisory Council. “Our LGBTQ+ family and friends are an integral part of the Jewish people and Canadian society as a whole,” said CIJA chair David J. Cape in a statement. “We are excited to launch this vital initiative, which brings together a talented and diverse group of leaders and young professionals for the goal of strengthening our ties with the LGBTQ+ community. We look forward to working with the LGBTQ+ Advisory Council, which will play a crucial role in providing CIJA with guidance on policies and issues, while expanding our capacity to connect with the broader LGBTQ+ community on matters of common cause.”
Tom Chervinsky, chair of CIJA’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Council, said, “As someone who is Jewish and gay, I am heartened to see both the support and importance that the organized Jewish community is placing on building strong bridges of friendship and cooperation with the LGBTQ+ community. Our Jewish and sexual/gender identities are fundamental to who we are. Being able to integrate our whole selves into the fabric of both these communities makes each community, and all of Canada, stronger. It is an honour to get to work with so many dedicated Canadian volunteers to help make that possible.”
The council consists of 14 members from seven provinces. It includes both Jewish and non-Jewish members with a diverse range of professional and political backgrounds, including experience in law, academia, business, politics, advocacy and Jewish community work. A full list of members, including biographies, may be found at cija.ca/lgbtq.
CIJA has been involved in various LGBTQ+ advocacy activities, even before the creation of the council. This involvement includes sponsoring outreach events at various Pride festivals across Canada and serving as one of several organizations on the executive of Trans Equality Canada, a coalition urging Parliament to pass Bill C-16 to strengthen human rights and hate crimes protections for the transgender community.