Today it begins! A Wider Bridge’s LGBT delegation landed in Israel to begin the 6th annual LGBT Israel Mission- this time around with 28 LGBT professionals who are eager to know more about beautiful Israel and the diverse LGBTQ community in it. Today we officially launch the hashtag #bridge2israel16 in order to make it easy for our fans and readers to track the experiences of our delegation on social media.
Each year we strive to build an itinerary that is both timeless and current. Our missions bring together LGBTQ leaders – diverse in religion and culture, age and geography, gender and sexual identity – for a rich, 10-day journey with educational, political and cultural experiences as diverse as our participants. Beyond exposure to Israel’s LGBT community, our itinerary is crafted around our values of pluralism and the interconnectivity of LGBT and other causes for the advancement of human rights.
The delegation will begin the journey in Jerusalem with a Welcome Dinner with Yiscah Smith, followed by a night tour at the city and a visit to Video Bar, the city’s only LGBTQ bar.
On Friday, the group will explore the old city of Jerusalem before meeting the leadership of the Hartman Institute, a pluralistic research and leadership center at the forefront of Jewish thought and education in Israel, and Noa Sattath, Director of IRAC (the Israel Religious Action Center).
Saturday will be dedicated to exploring the non-Jewish side of the area: a tour of Bethlehem and its famous church, a visit to the progressive Rawabi and a visit to Ramallah to meet Zimam, a grassroots movement of Palestinian moderates, dedicated to fighting extremism and violence. Sunday will start at Yad Va’shem, and then a tour of Mahaneh Yehuda Market. And then- a dessert reception at the Jerusalem Open House which will give our delegation an opportunity to mingle with the local LGBTQ community.
Monday will start with a visit to the Knesset, and then, until Wednesday, the group will explore the north of Israel, including a visit to Haifa, Nazareth and Tzfat, an Israeli Vineyard tour, seeing the beautiful Golan Heights, and a jeep ride to Mt. Hermon.
The last part of the tour will be in Tel Aviv, and will include a meeting with LGBTQ leaders of all A Wider Bridge’s community partners in Israel, a visit to Beit D’ror and the Rabin Center, a meeting with America’s leading diplomat in Israel, Ambassador Dan Shapiro, and so much more.
“I look forward to our being together as we begin our journey though Israel,” said Arthur Slepian, A Wider Bridge’s Executive Director, who leads the delegation. “Traveling with a group of 30 plus folks who for the most part we do not yet know, in a country that many of us have never been to before, has its joys and challenges. We have an excellent itinerary, and we will be meeting some remarkable people as we travel around Israel. I am confident that this will be a meaningful experience for each of us, and that one of the strongest parts of the trip will be getting to know each other.”