Butler Journal of Undergraduate Research


The overlap between being Jewish, LGBTQ, and a woman has not been well studied, and the nuances of these intersecting identities have often been overlooked. Focusing on these intersections, my research examines a group of LGBTQ Jewish women linked by their experiences with one Jewish summer camping network, Camp Ramah, focusing on how they experienced inclusion or exclusion and empowerment or disempowerment. Those I interviewed all had communities they felt fully accepted in, and all felt that Judaism was compatible with their sexuality or gender identity; however, participants did face discrimination at Ramah and in the wider Jewish community. At Ramah, they experienced some discomfort from their peers about their sexuality, and in the wider Jewish community, their sexuality was not acknowledged. Particularly in Orthodox spaces, they also faced discrimination because of their gender. Despite these experiences of discrimination, the participants in my study felt generally accepted in Jewish communities, empowered to change tradition, and able to shape Jewish communities to become even more accepting and inclusive. My research demonstrates how the Conservative movement and the Ramah Camping Movement have become more accepting of LGBTQ Jews and Jewish women, while also showing how those shaped by Conservative movement institutions are now seeking to create more welcoming and diverse communities.