After realizing at an early age that she was a lesbian, Shulamit Izen devoted herself to creating a supportive environment for Jewish GLBTQ teens. In seventh grade, Izen came to the dual realization that she wanted to be more religiously observant and that she was a lesbian, prompting her to ask if she could be both gay and Jewish. Her rabbi responded that this challenge might be what made her soul special. When she learned that GLBTQ teens were at greater risk of violence, suicide and drug use, Izen decided that making the Jewish community inclusive towards GLBTQ members was an issue of pikuach nefesh, the Jewish value of saving a life. In ninth grade, she campaigned to create a gay-straight alliance at her school, followed by her creation of a group for Jewish GLBTQ teens in the Boston area. She was the subject of a documentary, Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School, and was ordained as a rabbi by Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2013.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Shulamit Izen." (Viewed on December 5, 2016) <https://jwa.org/people/izen-shulamit>.