After volunteering with Tribe 12 for many years and seeing firsthand the power of connection within a community, Jess Meyers decided to further dedicate their professional life to forwarding the mission of the organization.
“It’s important to create spaces that are inclusive and welcoming for young people in the Jewish community who have similar experiences,” said Meyers, Tribe 12’s LGBTQIA+ program director and social justice organizer.
Made up of several niche microcommunities, Tribe 12 speaks to the individual needs and interests of Philadelphians in their 20s and 30s. One of the most active of these microcommunities is the LGBTQIA+ program.
After stepping into their new role in October, Meyers expanded the LGBTQIA+ programming to feature events, like Ga(y)me Nights and Queeraoke. Among the creative and fun monthly events, Meyers has continued to build a welcoming and safe space for Philadelphia’s queer young adults to explore the intersection of their Jewish and queer identities.
Tribe 12 is one of several local programs that the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia funds to support LGBTQIA+ inclusion. Among these locally supported organizations, include Moving Traditions and Jewish Learning Venture’s JkidPRIDE.
“At the core of the Jewish Federation is the commitment to inclusion and diversity within the community,” said Kelly Romirowsky, Jewish Federation’s chief strategy and impact officer. “By proudly supporting organizations, like Tribe 12, that provide safe and welcoming spaces for all, we continue to move our mission forward.”
The funding Tribe 12 receives from the Jewish Federation supports its various initiatives, including the year-round LGBTQIA+ programming.
Not working in isolation, Tribe 12 is also a member of the J.PROUD Consortium. A Jewish Family and Children’s Service initiative, J.PROUD is the Philadelphia collective of Jewish organizations committed to LGBTQIA+ inclusion. Currently, J.PROUD has more than 40 members, including the Jewish Federation.
The versatility and wide reach of Tribe 12’s various microcommunities are what the organization’s new Executive Director Rabbi Megan GoldMarche gravitated toward while searching for the next step in her career.
Before her move to Philadelphia, GoldMarche served six years as the senior base rabbi for Jews in their 20s and 30s at Metro Chicago Hillel. She and her wife, Paige, created a community for young Jews out of their home, and one of her favorite memories was opening their home to young adults for weekly Shabbat dinners.
It’s this same feeling of warmth, openness and acceptance that Rabbi GoldMarche wants to replicate in Tribe 12.
“DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) work requires an internal and external lens and we plan to build on each simultaneously,” GoldMarche said. “We need our community to reflect the diversity of the Jewish people.”
GoldMarche and Meyers are determined to have Tribe 12 continue and increase its offerings of Jewish wisdom and resources to the 20s and 30s community, while also providing safe spaces for connection.
“I believe people are searching for a community, especially after the last few years during COVID,” GoldMarche reflected. “We want to be ready to fill the need.”