A Wider Bridge is the pro-Israel organization that builds bridges between Israelis and LGBTQ North Americans and allies.
We focus on programming that builds personal connection, providing individuals and organizations, both in Israel and America, with opportunities for engagement, education and experience.
We believe two kinds of outcomes will result from this work. First, through this unique LGBT path to Israel, more LGBT people in North America, both Jews and non-Jews, will find meaningful connection with Israel and Israelis. Second, through communication, learning about each other, and sharing of knowledge and best practices, the LGBT communities in both Israel and North America will grow stronger and better capable of advancing their goals.
Israel – We believe, that all Jews, both straight and LGBT, have a stake in Israel, in learning about its past, experiencing its present, and helping to shape its future. We believe there is a unique and powerful connection that LGBT people, both Jews and non-Jews, can have with Israel.
Engagement – We believe in the intrinsic value of being in the conversation, of building relationships, of people learning about each other, sharing, and working together.
Pluralism – We are open to a wide range of political perspectives and religious views. We promote the welcoming and inclusion of people of all sexualities and gender identities. We aspire to a world in which the lives of all people are celebrated.
Communal Responsibility – Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh BaZeh (All Israel is responsible for one another) – We believe all Jews share a fundamental connection, and we see our work as part of the broader project of building creative new relationships among the Jewish people globally.
Justice – We believe we are all obligated to do our part to create a better world, and we seek to empower LGBT Jews to be agents of social change in Israel, throughout the global Jewish community, and beyond.
A Message from the Executive Director
Several years ago I had the opportunity to spend time in Israel meeting with many of the leaders, activists and artists of its LGBT communities. I met with people from the larger established organizations such as Jerusalem Open House, The Aguda, and Israel Gay Youth, and with leaders of newer, emerging organizations, such as Havruta and Bat Kol, the LGBT organizations growing up within Israel’s orthodox community. I met with political leaders, radical activists and filmmakers. All these conversations convinced me of the same thing: “These are stories that deserve to be told. This is work that deserves to be encouraged and supported. There is so much to be gained from dialogue and collaboration.” These conversations were the beginning of A Wider Bridge.
In my recently published essay “An Inconvenient Truth: The Myths of Pinkwashing,” I had the opportunity to further describe some of the principles and beliefs that led to the creation of A Wider Bridge and that inform its work. Here are some excerpts from that essay:
— My love for Israel and my commitment to LGBT equality led me to create A Wider Bridge, an organization dedicated to strengthening the bonds between the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities in Israel and America. I believe LGBT Jews have been a transformative force for good in the Jewish world, and that LGBT Israelis have been and will continue to be a vital force in creating a stronger and better Israel.
— We believe that Israel is the most important project of the Jewish people. And we believe in K’lal Yisrael, that all Jews share a fundamental connection and responsibility for one another. Forty percent of the world’s Jews live in Israel, and it will soon surpass the United States as the country with the single largest Jewish population in the world. We are struck by how little the American Jewish and LGBT communities know about Israel’s LGBT communities (and vice versa), and we aim to change that.
— We believe, that all Jews, both straight and LGBT, have a stake in Israel, in learning about its past, experiencing its present, and helping to shape its future. That stake impels us to strive to understand, participate in, and often wrestle with, Israel. We hope that people will come to care enough about Israel that when they do criticize, whether on LGBT or Palestinian issues, they will do so from love.
— We are not a political organization, but our work is founded on two basic tenets. First, we believe in Israel as a democratic Jewish homeland, and that Israel not only can but must fulfill its founding commitment to democratic values and civic equality while maintaining its identity as a Jewish state. We believe that working for LGBT rights in Israel helps it move closer to fulfilling that vision. Second, we believe that Israel is a country worthy of more engagement, more dialogue, more exchange of culture and travel, and should not be the object of boycotts and sanctions.
— We welcome those with firm views, as well as those who are undecided, confused or uncertain about how much all this matters. Our goal is to create opportunities for education, engagement and experience, new pathways for Americans and Israelis to learn from one another. We bring Israeli LGBT leaders to the United States and lead trips for LGBT Americans to Israel, fostering dialogue and collaboration. We trust in people’s ability to make up their own minds.
— While our work is focused on building connections with, and support for, Israel’s LGBT communities, we are acutely aware that other human rights struggles exist, both within Israel and in the Palestinian territories. Our pride and celebration of Israel’s progress in LGBT rights does not mean that we endorse all the policies of its government. We hope for a time when Palestinians will live in dignity, free from occupation, and Israelis will no longer live with the daily threat of rocket fire or terrorist attack, or the fear of nuclear war.
I hope you will join us on this journey. We have so much to learn from each other.
Executive Director, A Wider Bridge