The latest issue of Jewish Agency magazine “Generations” which was distributed to the 3000 attendees at the JFNA General Assembly in Jerusalem, contains an article about A Wider Bridge’s recent NYC conference on the challenges of engaging LGBT Jews with Israel. The program was organized by A Wider Bridge, with support from The Jewish Agency for Israel.
More than 25 activists, scholars and rabbis from the Jewish LGBT community, as well as gay and straight Jewish professionals from mainstream Jewish organizations, gathered recently in New York City for a day-long conversation on the challenges facing LGBT supporters of Israel. Among the participants were two Jewish Agency Israel Fellows to Hillel and The Jewish Agency Shlicha (emissary) to the Union of Reform Judaism.
“The Jewish Agency has created a platform to collaborate with innovation sector in Jewish communal life to help them strengthen Israel engagement among the target populations these new organizations are able to reach,” said Reuven Greenvald, The Jewish Agency’s director of strategic outreach in North America. “Our collaboration not only expands the reach of Israel engagement, it also helps these new organizations become more sustainable,” according to Greenvald. Other successful collaborations have been developed with Moishe House and Hazon.
In his opening remarks, Arthur Slepian, founder and executive director of A Wider Bridge, said that LGBT Jews often face a deep sense of dissonance when it comes to Israek. On one hand, they know that mainstream Israeli society is welcoming to its vibrant LGBT community. But for some LGBT Jews there is a natural desire to identify with vulnerable communities and they view the Palestinians as people in a shared struggle. “This is a historic conversation. We’ve all been on a journey with Israel that includes love and criticism. Our goal is to find the right balance and to use this as a springboard for more conversations together,” Slepian said.