Co-founder, Oli Davidson, writes about her motivations behind starting Laviot, and what her visions are for it.
The saying goes, “behind every successful man, is a woman”. Well, in our case, behind us successful women was a man. It all happened in the height of summer when 4 women came together at a party hosted by said man and realised a mutual frustration. We were all Jewish women hanging around the mid to high zone of the Kinsey Scale, wondering where the others like us were. We decided to find them. With the support and encouragement of the other two, Gabi and I set up a meeting and sat in a coffee shop in East Finchley for hours (destined to be as famous as the Elephant House where J K Rowling first committed her ideas for HP to paper). Both being very environmentally conscious people, neither of us thought to bring any paper, so instead we wrote down our plan on a take away pastry bag.
The conversation started with a Venn diagram, and ended with our goals for the year. Then came our name, a Facebook group, and support from other Jewish or LGBT+ organisations. We networked at London Pride and shabbat services and had our launch. We planned more events, expanded our team and released our logo. In the last three months, we’ve turned a casual conversation into a fully-fledged organisation filling a vital hole in the social landscape for queer, Jewish women. For
some, we’ve created a space where they can explore sides of themselves that might not have been given the opportunity to have a voice before. For others, we’ve reared a platform for discussion, debate and expression. But for most, we’ve built a community for people who come from a range of religious backgrounds, who sit anywhere on the LGBT+ spectrum, who define for themselves what it is to be a woman.
From what originally started as a mission to find other queer Jewish women friends, Laviot has evolved and put ourselves on the map of Jewish LGBT+ organisations. After only three months, I feel proud to say that Laviot has grown into a community, but this is only the beginning. In the next year we hope to develop further, include more people on the team, extend our influence, welcome long-term support from allies, though always remain devoted to our members. Personally, I don’t want Laviot to remain a community for much longer. My aspirations for Laviot is that it becomes a family: a core unit, however branched and diverse and with however many additions and restructurings, surrounded by overlapping layers of supportive extensions.
That’s nice for me, you’re thinking, but what about for you? You have a family, loads of friends, a support network, what do you need Laviot for? Well, maybe you don’t. But if you want to experience a different kind of Friday night dinner or learn a bit more about the Jewish position on LGBT+ and feminist issues, maybe you do. If you want an avenue into doing more volunteering, let Laviot help you. If you want to try a new activity or expose yourself to a greater range of vegetarian and vegan dishes, Laviot is the place to do it. Or perhaps you just want to meet more people or be the person that empowers someone else to accept the identity that they’re struggling with. Well, Laviot has unlimited room for people like you. But most importantly, if you don’t think Laviot is offering the services you want, you can change that! We welcome all feedback and will make any changes that we’re able to.
Our initial success may have been facilitated by a man, but our success hereon in is down to you. We look forward to welcoming you to the Pride.