Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Jewish museum to host hand-holding love-in

The Contemporary Jewish Museum is hosting a hand-holding love-in this Sunday, July 24 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in response to two women that were asked to stop holding hands by a security guard at the Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories exhibit last Sunday.

“Given the response to what happened in the gallery last Sunday, we decided to do a hand-holding day,” said out lesbian museum director and CEO Connie Wolf.

Wolf, 51, who has led the CJM for 12 years, wasn’t present when the incident happened, but was stunned by the news of it. She responded swiftly by immediately contacting Guardsmark, the security company that contracts its services with the museum, and informed its management that the security guard’s actions were inappropriate.

The security guards that have worked at the museum (pictured at right) for many years haven’t been an issue in the past, Wolf told the Bay Area Reporter. In spite of never having an incident, Wolf said she requested that Guardsmark immediately begin working on implementing an LGBT sensitivity training program for its staff.

The hand-holding event is taking place during the LGBT Family Morning of Stein program. The morning, scheduled prior to the incident, will feature special art-making activities, tours of the exhibition, and performances by the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, the Voices Lesbian Choral Ensemble, and the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, said Wolf.

Lisa Finkelstein, director of the LGBT Alliance at the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, and Sonoma Counties, was already planning on taking her niece, Maya, to the exhibit on Sunday, she said.

The special hand-holding event, “ironic beyond my usual experiences at CJM,” she said, only places more significance on the day because Jewish centers such as CJM “sometimes feel like extensions of our own homes or our second homes.”

“Everyone needs to feel comfortable, safe, welcome, and respected in our community as it is a core Jewish value to create Shalom Bayit, Hebrew for ‘peace in the home,'” said Finkelstein, as well as Kavod, which means respect for the “rights, dignity, feelings, wishes and abilities of others.”

Finkelstein, who is also a member of CJM, is proudly displayed with her friends and family as a part of “Being Jewish” exhibit that is currently showing, she said.

A special performance of actress Laura Sheppard’s one-woman play, Paris Portraits: Stories of Picasso, Matisse, Gertrude Stein and their Circle, will take place Sunday. The 30-minute performance is based on the new memoir of Stein by Harriet Levy. It begins at 2 p.m. at the museum and is free. Historians Frances Dinkelspiel and Fred Rosenbaum will follow the performance with a discussion, according to a news release sent out by the museum today/

All families are welcome to join the activities.

For more information, visit

Full disclosure: The B.A.R. is sponsoring “An Evening in Gay Paris” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and SFMOMA on Thursday, August 4. For more info, visit

– by Heather Cassell

— Cynthia Laird, July 21, 2011 @ 3:51 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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