“Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School”

“Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School” is a revolutionary program created by Keshet, Inc. “Hineini” consists of a ground-breaking documentary film and curriculum resource guide that helps students deal with questions surrounding sexual orientation and Jewish identity. The film follows one girl’s journey through Jewish and political responses to coming out in a Jewish day school and trying to create a gay-straight alliance. The curriculum resource guide that accompanies the film uses Jewish texts to examine issues of identity, community building, Jewish pluralism, and student activism. The texts provide a strong Jewish voice in the materials. This program gives teachers materials and methods for exploring topics which—due to their highly controversial nature—are not easy to discuss in the classroom, in a way that is respectful of all people.

Type of Media: 
Documentary feature film (DVD) and Companion Curriculum Resource Guide
Program contact
Contact Name: 
Andrea Jacobs
Program Contact Email: 
Organization and Writers: 
Written by Kim Westheimer and Rabbi Jill Hammer, edited by Dr. Andrea Jacobs for Keshet, Inc.
Approximate Cost: 
Educators and institutions can purchase the DVD and Curriculum Resource Guide together from Keshet’s website. Cost is $175 for educational institutions and organizations with budgets under $500,000; $250 for universities, corporations, and larger non-profit organizations. Public screening rights are separate and must be obtained from Keshet. For more information contact: hineini@keshetonline.org or shalem@keshetonline.org
Materials Included: 
DVD: 60-minute documentary film, 30 additional minutes of extras, updated interviews, and special features
Target Audience: 
Youth in grades 7-12, parents, community members, and Jewish professionals
Training: 
No training is necessary. Online/phone support available
Length of Program: 
The DVD feature film is 60 minutes. An additional 30 minutes of extras are included on the DVD. Each activity included in the Curriculum Resource Guide has a different time length. The activities included can be combined to create programs of differing length, from a two-hour screening and discussion to a semester- or summer-long program of activities around the themes included in the Resource Guide.
Summary of Curriculum: 
Hineini (Hebrew for ”Here I am”) chronicles the story of one student’s courageous fight to establish a gay-straight alliance at her Jewish high school and the transformative impact of her campaign on everyone involved. Using interviews with Shulamit, her family, teachers, and other students—both those who support her campaign and those who oppose it—the film allows members of this community to tell their own story as it unfolds. What emerges is a potent story of Jewish pluralism and a community navigating the cross-currents of Jewish tradition and social change. The companion curriculum resource guide addresses several themes raised in the film, including coming out, Jewish texts on homosexuality, pluralism in the Jewish community, being an ally for friends who are LGBT, youth as agents of community change, an examination of gender roles and categories in classical and contemporary Jewish communities, and views of heterosexuality and homosexuality in society. Detailed information on use of the curriculum as well as guidelines to prepare educators to work with this curriculum are included. Lessons and activities include working with Jewish text, discussions on creating change in a community, and examples of historical events as models of change. Several of the lesson and activity plans can be easily adapted for use in adult education settings. One main focus of the material is working as a community to create an environment that is safe and welcoming for all types of people.