Mordechai Zac Levovitz, MSW 2013
Mordechai is the co-founder and Executive Director of JQY (Jewish Queer Youth) a nonprofit for at-risk LGBT youth in the Orthodox Jewish community. JQY provides support groups, crisis resources and educational initiatives on behalf of LGBT teens and young adults in the Orthodox, Hasidic and Sephardic world. With over 1000 members nationwide, JQY is the only national support resource designed for LGBT Orthodox youth.
Rebellious and free thinking from the age of five, Mordechai insisted that he be considered a "boy-girl" on his first day at his ultra-Orthodox kindergarten. Throughout the next sixteen years in Orthodox yeshivas, Mordechai continued to challenge the gender norms of Orthodox Judaism, while developing a proficiency in Judaic studies and Jewish cultural competency. He was the first student in Yeshiva University to come out of the closet. In college Mordechai became New York's first male Certified Rape Crisis Advocate. Mordechai was accepted early-decision to Stony Brook Medical School where he studied medicine for two years until taking a leave of absence to pursue a Masters in social work. Mordechai worked as a social work intern for teens at the LGBT Center of Manhattan and as the LGBT consultant for the UN NGO Committee for Human Rights.
In April 2015 Mordechai spearheaded the first Mental Health Conference on Sexuality and Gender Identity in the Orthodox Community. The JQY conference was attended by over 120 Orthodox therapists and rabbis and featured key note addresses from both the Honorary President and Executive Vice President of the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America). Under Mordechai's leadership JQY is at the forefront of creating sensitivity programs aimed training Orthodox high schools, camps, synagogues, and organizations to better care for its LGBT constituents.