Ulmer Associate Michael Davis Hoenig is the co-founder of MAKOM, a grassroots group that is dedicated to brightening the lives of LGBTQ Jews in the Cleveland observant community by creating a place for honest and respectful conversation, educating community members and institutions about LGBTQ issues, and providing a loving and safe community for LGBTQ Jews and their families, friends, and allies. MAKOM means a place in Hebrew.
In 2016, Hoenig created MAKOM, along with co-founder Susan Borison. The pair were inspired to create the group after viewing a movie entitled, “Trembling Before G-d,” during a film festival at a local synagogue. The film focused on gay and lesbian Orthodox and Hasidic Jews who struggle with reconciling their sexuality and their faith. After witnessing his brother’s struggle with this issue, viewing the movie made Hoenig realize he could do more to help those in the LGBTQ community.
Creating MAKOM was a way for Hoenig to make a difference, and he and Borison wanted to continue the conversation that the movie initiated among the viewers. Since its inception, MAKOM has met every few months and has brought together groups of up to 75 people to continue the discussion and provide training about being an LGBTQ ally.