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Queer Hillel, a new group for LGBTQ Jewish students, gathered for the first time on Tuesday.

According to Sarah Wolk '10.5, a co-coordinator of the group, Queer Hillel had "been around in the past," but had disappeared for one or two years.

Personal motivations, Wolk said, were a big factor in her and co-coordinator Anna Schnur-Fishman's '09.5 decision to reconstitute the group, which is a subgroup of Brown/RISD Hillel.

"We kind of just wanted to see if there was interest because we were interested," Wolk said.

The pair wanted to make it clearly known that "there is a welcoming space for queer students in the Jewish community," Fishman said. "Queer people have been scared off from religion."

With only one official meeting on the books, Queer Hillel is still determining what its focuses and activities will be. In an informal poll taken during the first meeting, which Wolk and Fishman said was attended by about 20 students, group members expressed interest in hosting guest speakers, holding discussion groups and studying how gender and sexuality are represented in religious texts..

Older gay Jewish couples from Providence might also come to talk about different topics including same-sex Jewish marriage and raising children, Fishman said.

Queer Hillel is not the only student group on campus to address issues of religion and sexuality. Queer Alliance, for example, has a religion subgroup, Queer Faith, and the Third World Center has its own peer group, the Next Thing, focused on race, religion and culture. 

Queer Faith is "less focused on one particular dogma," said Aida Manduley '11, QA's head chair.

Fishman said she considers Judaism her "first language," and that her "queerness ... definitely came later."

But other members of the group emphasize their sexuality more, she said.
Queer Hillel is "definitely open to anybody," Wolk said. It's "great to have lots of different perspectives."


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