From a young age, my parents instilled in me the importance of kehillah, community. In middle school, my volleyball team was my community. In high school, my youth group, BBYO. And in college, the theater department. When I moved to LA, I didn’t know anyone and for the first time in my life, I didn't have a community despite being surrounded by so many people. I finally understood what my parents meant by the importance of being part of a community.
After about a year and a half of trying to find "my place" in LA within the Jewish community, coming to terms with my sexuality, and discovering what it really means to live on your own as an adult, I stumbled across JQ.
As a young woman in her early 20’s who was not only unsure of her place in Los Angeles but who also had just accepted her sexual orientation, hearing about JQ felt like the doors to Zabar’s opening and smelling the fresh bagels the minute you stepped inside.
Okay, maybe I’m really missing New York bagels right now, but discovering JQ existed felt like a breath of fresh air.
I immediately started researching JQ, registered for their newsletter, followed them on every social media platform possible, stalked photos from events, and registered for the next Shebrew Shabbat. I was counting down the days to Shebrew Shabbat. I could not wait to meet a group of queer women in Los Angeles and celebrate Shabbat and ourselves with them.
As Shabbat approached, I became more and more nervous. “Would I wear something completely inappropriate?” “What if I don’t fit in?” “What if everyone judges me for just having come out?” “What if I freeze and up and can’t talk to anyone?” “Oh My G-d, what if I fall in love?” And on and on. My mind kept coming up with worst case scenarios on my drive over. Totally normal, right? Well I’m happy to report that none of those things happened, including the falling in love part… next time maybe?
Instead of my fears coming true at Shebrew, I was embraced and welcomed with a warm smile. The room was full of an accepting, loving, and exciting buzz. Everyone was there to welcome Shabbat and have a wonderful evening together. I spent the night meeting dozens of people from all over LA of different religions, sexual orientations, genders, and so on.
There was laughter, dancing, praying, wine (very important), and friendships all around. And of course, the food was delicious. As I looked around the room, my heart filled up with so much joy and appreciation. No one person was the same, and yet we all came together to be with one another and embraced everyone’s differences. There was an energy in the room that said “You are welcomed here no matter what. You are safe.”
That night, not only did I make new friends and laughed so hard I felt my abs for the first time in forever, but I found my kehillah in Los Angeles. Every JQ event I have been to since then has felt like coming home and being enveloped in a warm hug. I make new friends and meet new people who I add to my community. The open and loving community I have found in JQ has given me the strength to feel more like myself than ever before.
I truly encourage everyone to attend a JQ event. I promise you won’t regret it.
- Linor Nulman, JQ Community Member