As a two-time staffer of Birthright, I've learned that there's no such thing as being too prepared. The action-packed ten day trips to Israel are infamous for creating intense bonds in a short amount of time. My role is to create a safe, welcoming environment for all participants so that they can experience Israel, deepen their connection to Jewish identity, and make lasting connections with one another. That's why I found the JQ Inclusion training during Birthright staff onboarding to be so crucial.
What resonated with me in each training facilitated by a member of the JQ Staff was that there were so many scenarios during a Birthright trip in which inclusion comes into play. From room assignments to cultural norms to what happens if a participant comes out, it's crucial to know that participants’ personal identities will intersect with the larger themes and questions raised by the experiences of the trip. The group discussion and training provided our staff with the opportunity to be able to share our own experiences and reflect on what we would have done differently in retrospect. We learned from each other in the type of safe and non-judgemental environment we hope to create for our trip participants.
I am so grateful to JQ for equipping us with the tools necessary to approach what can be a somewhat sensitive topic with care, love, and empathy. The impact of this training will be immeasurable for the LGBTQ+ participants who will travel with these enlightened staffers.