If you haven’t met JP Payne at a Keshet event yet, you’ve been missing out. Slim and boyish, with short auburn hair and a quiet smile, 25 year old JP both fits in well with other Keshet members and stands out as a fresh new face around town. Though she comes across as shy and soft spoken, JP is fiercely intelligent and a fabulous drinking companion. She’s also a secret romantic.

I was lucky enough to have a few drinks with her on my porch after Havdallah last weekend, and I decided to interview her for this little blog here.

(Drumroll, please.)

1. Are you single?

Yes, and I appreciate the fact that this is the first question of the interview.

2. Do you have a crush on anyone at Keshet yet? (It’s only a matter of time, you know.)

If you have ever been a female-identified member of the human species and have worn a skirt in my presence, rest assured that I have wanted to make babies with you at some point in our interaction. But don’t take it personally. Coming from a very small queer community and plunging into the queer paradise of JP-Land, I’m a little out of control. Like a child in a candy store. Like a gay man in an antique shop. Like a single lesbian in JP-Land. The first time I got off the Stony Brook T-stop I had to go back home and take a cold shower.

3. What is your astrological sign?


4. Is dating someone Jewish important to you?

Living Jewishly is important to me and therefore dating Jewishly is too. I’ve learned from trial and error that it’s important to me to have some cultural and spiritual common ground in a relationship. You can only correct your partner’s pronunciation of “Shabbat” so many times before you think your mother may have been right after all.

5. How long have you been in Boston?

Seven months. Just long enough to know that Bostonians complain about every season.

6. What was your first Keshet event?

My first Keshet event was the Queer Beit Midrash. The atmosphere was both intellectually challenging and non-intimidating. I would recommend the Queer Beit Midrash to anyone interested in Jewish learning, whatever their skill level.

7. How did you first learn about Keshet?

I did a Google search for “queer Jewish Boston.” Which, for the record, returned considerably more results than “queer Jewish Baton Rouge.”

8. Why did you want to come to a Keshet event?

I was fascinated by the idea of “queer” and “beit midrash” being in the same sentence, and I was compelled to see what it was about. Next thing I knew I was piling into kayaks on the Charles River with a gaggle of other queers. I guess Keshet and Four Loko have that in common.

9. You have come to a few events. Keshet doesn’t have membership dues or anything—you just sign up for the emails. Do you feel like a Keshet “member” yet?

As far as I’m concerned, if I haven’t paid $5 and received a tote bag, then I’m not a member.

10. What are some events you would like to see happen in the future?

I’ve noticed a serious dearth of shul-goers in the young queer community, which makes me sad. We have plenty of Friday night potlucks and some great people leading Kabbalat Shabbat, but I just don’t see many people showing up on Shabbat morning, hosting Shabbat lunches, or participating in Havdalah. I think that strengthening Shabbat’s presence in our community has to start with going to shul. And I want to start a campaign to that effect. In honor of a recent controversial children’s book, we could call it the Go the @#$% to Shul Campaign. Or not. But whatever we call it, I want more people my age to come to shul. That way I’d have someone to talk to during the services. Kidding.

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