Former JFSA VP John Peck to get LGBT award


John Peck

John Peck, a former senior vice president of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, will be among four honorees at the second annual Rainbow Keshet Awards reception later this month.

The Rainbow Keshet Awards were created as a joint partnership between the Federation’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Jewish Inclusion Project, Temple Emanu-El and the Weintraub Israel Center as a way for the Tucson Jewish community to celebrate extraordinary acts of service and achievements made by and for LGBT people, including LGBT professionals and LGBT civil rights activists.

Peck, who was also director of the JFSA’s Jewish Community Relations Council, was one of the founders of the LGBT Jewish Inclusion Project in Tucson. He will receive a community professional Rainbow Keshet Award.

In a February 2006 article in the Arizona Jewish Post celebrating the AJP’s 60th anniversary and looking ahead to the community’s next 60 years, Peck, who led strategic planning for the Federation, predicted that through the efforts of the Federation and its partners, “each Jewish youth will be afforded the opportunity for a Jewish education, each Jewish family will be able to participate fully in our synagogue and cultural life, and each Jew will have the chance to visit Israel and make it a part of his or her life. We will be an inclusive, supportive, welcoming family to all, regardless of background, education, social condition, political or personal orientation. The light we offer — to ourselves and the world we live in — will be brighter and more focused than we can ever today imagine.”

“John helped shine a light on the absence of a welcoming message for LGBT Jews in the Southern Arizona community,” says Marc Paley, coordinator of the LGBT Jewish Inclusion Project. “He brought together many LGBT Jewish voices in Tucson calling for a more inclusive Jewish community.” Through his vision, the LGBT Jewish Inclusion Project has grown from fewer than 50 participating members to more than 300 since its inception in 2003. The project, says Paley, has reached more than 1,200 constituents in the last two years, through education, programming and projects to recognize and advocate for LGBT-friendly congregations and other community spaces where LGBT Jews feel warmly welcomed and engaged.

Also receiving the community professional Rainbow Keshet Award are Carol and Kate Bradsen, who will be honored for their work with asylum seekers and migrant workers via The Restoration Project Florence. Recipients for acts of service in civil rights are Dante Celeiro and Amelia Kramer. Celeiro will receive the award for his work as a transgender activist and founder of the performance group Boys R Us and Fluxx Studios. Kramer, chief deputy attorney for Pima County, will be recognized for her work as the former managing attorney for the western office of Lambda Legal.

The awards reception will be held Sunday, Oct. 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. It will include appetizers and dessert, plus “Oy Gay” LGBT-Jewish Coming Out Stories in conjunction with Odyssey Storytelling. A concert with Israeli actor and singer/songwriter Uri Banai will follow. Banai will tell his story about portraying a gay character on a popular Israeli sitcom during the Rainbow Keshet Awards. Tickets are $36 and are available online at jewishtucson.org/lgbt or at the Federation at 577-9393 or lgbtinfo@jfsa.org.