Speedy Shatari has a real passion for community and has actively pursued this through their work with our community. Few can say that they have made this kind of impact in such a short amount of time.
They are a member of Shalom’s Programming Sub Committee, representatives of the Large-Eastern-Hemisphere at the World Congress of LGBT Jews and recently completed a Master of Business Management at the University of Sydney. Speedy also coordinated the High School Engagement subdivision at the NSW Board of Jewish Education (BJE) and has worked closely with the Sydney Jewish Museum, Youth HEAR (holocaust education and remembrance) and AUJS.
In their new role as the Community Officer at the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, they are spearheading the Board’s social justice initiatives and working toward creating a more inclusive and diverse community.
“My primary focuses are First Nations partnerships, LGBTQIA plus inclusivity, aged care, human rights, the environment and child protection. This will hopefully expand to include general Jewish engagement within our community with a strong push to how we can engage young adults.”
Speedy is working on a few initiatives to fill the gaps and encourage people to be part of the community. “Because it’s a beautiful community and, I always say, you need to engage the youth and get on their level to keep thriving and have a sustainable Jewish community. And this is a long time coming. A lot of our youth identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, and when it comes to social justice issues, we need to get onto the same page.”
But the real challenge is ensuring inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community within the Jewish community and the Jewish experience. Speedy and the NSW JBD LGBTQ+ Working Party realised that there was a gap – people didn’t necessarily feel like they could coexist within the Jewish community, and their queer or LGBTQ+ identity. To start filling this gap, Speedy and the working party founded a Jewish LGBTQ+ mentorship program that launched in late February with 20 participants.
“After interviewing so many incredible individuals, the recurring theme was that people are looking for community. And they feel like sometimes they're being disenfranchised, even if it's not a spoken thing. So I aim to keep creating, a safe, welcoming, celebratory, affirming space for Jewish community members who are also part of the LGBTQ+ community. Being part of the LGBTQ+ community myself, I know that it can coexist, but I am an exception, not the rule – being queer and very much embedded in the Jewish community. That's a rare thing.”
While Speedy is creating a space for acceptance into the community now the strategic view is to ensure that young adults have an infrastructure in place for the future. “I’m doing it so that younger kids can see that they are accepted and that there is so much space for them within our community. They don’t have to stray away from it. There’s a place for them.”
The mentorship program was made possible by the JCA Social Justice Fund which was established in 2014 and has since allocated $242,000 to programs, training and initiatives that: -Support Jews working to empower vulnerable or disadvantaged communities and individuals. -Support efforts to educate the Jewish community and broader community on social justice issues. -Encourage and empower individuals in the Jewish community to act as agents of positive social change. -Encourage and enable opportunities for individuals in the Jewish community to participate in service-learning experiences. -Enable a collective Jewish response to emergency relief, humanitarian crisis and natural disasters. -Embody the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam, Tzedakah and Chesed.