SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — The Jewish community is rallying behind a pledge to end homophobic bullying and harassment.
More than 3,500 Jews and Jewish institutions, including more than 400 rabbis, have signed on to the pledge, titled "Do Not Stand Idly By" and launched Oct. 5. The signatories pledge to stop bullying or harassment of GLBT (gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders) people in their communities and speak out when they see it.
“I’m not surprised by the response, but I do think it is unprecedented, if only because the Jewish community hasn’t been asked in this way to make such a public statement,” said Idit Klein, executive director of Keshet, an organization working for Jewish GLBT inclusion.
Keshet launched the campaign in partnership with 90 co-sponsors, including the official bodies and rabbinical associations of the Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal movements, Hillel International, the Reform and Conservative youth movements, and many Jewish day schools and federations.
The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and The Samuel Bronfman Foundation also co-sponsored the pledge.
Klein said the campaign was inspired by six GLBT teens who committed suicide in the past month. Its title comes from Leviticus 19:16, which exhorts Jews not to “stand idly by” when they see another person harmed.
The names of the signatories will be released Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day.
According to Keshet, a 2009 report from the American Association of Pediatrics claims that nearly one in four GLBT teenagers attempts suicide.