[The following article appeared in the February 13, 2012, edition of the Huffington Post at
This past summer, I had the opportunity to spend time with nearly 60 Teach For America corps members taking part in our Foundation's REALITY Israel Experience, a program that enables corps members to travel to Israel to explore the values that undergird their commitment to public service.
When I asked these passionate young people what motivated them to apply for the program, I heard a wide variety of responses, some inspiring, some empowering, some soulful -- and one in particular that was heartbreaking.
"I applied," one participant told me, "because I knew it would be the first time since I decided to live openly as a gay person that I would feel equal and accepted by the Jewish community." She desperately wanted to find a place where she could be herself.
Her story is one I have heard far too many times from Jews everywhere -- in Israel, in the U.S. and in countries around the world -- who feel excluded from our community because of their sexuality. Despite some progress, the pace of change within the faith-based world in general has simply been too slow in this area.
It is time we stand up and demand that change.
[Continued in Part II]