YES Fund Grantee Spotlight: ish

June 14, 2024YES fund recipient

ish is a Cincinnati-based community engagement organization centering Jewish arts and cultural traditions as a platform for connecting artists with communities to create new experiences, inspire pride in Jewish and intersectional identity, and foster appreciation of Cincinnati history and Jewish peoplehood. Below is a snapshot of the great work they do as a 2023-2024 YES Fund grantee.

Q: How does ish hope to celebrate Jewish pride while also embracing intersectional identities?  

At ish, we envision a world where the healing and transformative power of arts, creative experiences, and Jewish wisdom is recognized and utilized to promote individual and communal well-being.  

Our participants in Cincinnati have begun to embrace other cultural holidays in an LGBTQ-centered manner, a testament to the intersectionality we champion. Examples include Hispanic groups that have done LGBTQ Hispanic Heritage Month programming, and folks in the disability community creating LGBTQ disability programming for July based on the model ish and our project, elech, set up for them. This often-overlooked aspect of identity is at the core of our successful and meaningful programming. 

Q: How has WRJ’s YES Fund help fulfill the mission of ish?  

The YES Fund's impact on ish programs enables us to extend our reach and influence within the LGBTQ Jewish community. While we've made significant strides in Cincinnati, national recognition of our programs opens doors to members we wouldn't otherwise reach.  

This recognition also empowers individuals who find themselves in the region after a move and are seeking community. A significant portion of our participants are Cincinnati transplants who message us to get involved. Elevating our platform to a national level will bring a level of visibility that we couldn’t achieve on our own. 

Q: Any programming highlights to show this mission in action?  

Ish recently supported elech in hosting an incredibly successful Purim Drag Show! “Glitter, Graggers, and Glam” included six different performers, with 85 participants in total. An Israeli-American gay man who attended the event expressed how emotional it was to celebrate an “Israeli-style Purim” with LGBTQ rights under attack in Israel and America.

Q: Anything else WRJ should know about your continued work?  

At an elech gathering earlier this year, a group of older teens gathered to discuss their shared experiences. No one in the group were out to their parents, nor to the greater Jewish community.  

We are proud to have created a safe space for them to live their full selves.  

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