A Lesbian Rabbi Builds a Strong Network of Support for Those in Need

Published: August 15, 2016

JQ International is a nonprofit organization that fosters the healthy fusion of LGBTQ and Jewish identities founded in 2004. Two years ago, the organization launched the JQ Helpline, which their website bills as the “only resource and social service referral line specifically designed to serve LGBTQ Jews, their families, and allies in the United States.”

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Initially only a “warm” line that was supported via the part time help of various volunteers, the service quickly indicated that there was a far greater need—and not only for LGBTQ Jews and allies in America, but people from all walks of life, all over the world. Callers (who can use the phone or email to get in contact with the helpline) have reached out from Algeria, Ukraine, Israel, and from all over the United States.

One of the helpline volunteers, psychotherapist and Rabbi Rachel Bat-Or, soon found that her commitment to this service was growing at an exponential rate. She now focuses full-time on helping those who contact the helpline, conducting targeted research and referring clients to local resources. While most callers are Jewish, specifically orthodox teens and parents, Bat-Or has received calls from many different types of clients, including a lesbian Muslim woman who was being threatened by her ex-husband. The woman made sure to specifically tell Bat-Or how fortunate she felt to have the helpline as a resource.

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