NEW YORK (Nov. 19)
The World Congress of Gay and Lesbian Jewish Organizations, in an effort to become more integrated into the mainstream Jewish communal world, has applied for membership to the World Jewish Congress.
The group has been seeking WJC membership for the better part of two years, but the application did not move forward until its leadership met with WJC officials last week, said Jack Gilbert, president of the gay and lesbian group.
The sense that their application was not enthusiastically received by the WJC was no surprise, he said in an interview.
“The record of the wider community supporting our work is very poor.
“As we build our relationship with the wider Jewish community and begin to be seen as an expert organization advocating for a section of the community which people need to reach out to, we will expect wider support for our work.”
Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, would not say why their application did not get earlier consideration.
But he said the application would be considered by the membership committee of the World Jewish Congress’ Board of Governors at its next meeting, in the spring.
He said he could not predict whether the application for membership would cause any controversy within the WJC.
“It may be a potentially controversial issue, but it’s not for me to decide,” said Steinberg. “The WJC is a democratic institution, so I could not state what the ultimate disposition would be.”
Gilbert said membership in the WJC is important to the gay and lesbian congress because the WJC is “effectively the United Nations of the Jewish world.”
Constituents of the gay and lesbian umbrella group include 65 synagogues, social clubs, social service organizations and student groups in North America, Israel, Europe, South Africa and South America.
The first international meeting of gay and lesbian Jewish groups took place in 1975, and the World Congress was launched in 1980.