Generation Zahav: AWB Impact Grant Helps Beshela Fight for LGBTQ Seniors’ Rights in Israel

The Generation Zahav tour with AWB Impact Grantee Beshela was a huge success! We spoke with Sara Sweiry and Robin Rosenbaum about how the tour is helping them make an impact in fighting for the rights of LGBTQ seniors in Israel.

Trip delegates Sara Sweiry, Chen Arieli, and Robin Rosenbaum 

AWB: Hi everyone! What did you learn from this trip?

Robin: Hello! Wow…this tour was a trip of a lifetime! As a social worker and activist, it was wonderful to see how communities in the United States are organizing around LGBTQ seniors’ issues. The trip has inspired me to think about my own activism and the ways in which I can help.

Sara: Hi! Yes, this trip was great. We witnessed how the United States is organizing around LGBTQ seniors’ issues. There are two things that we know we need to do in Israel. First, we are organizing educational visits to 100 senior homes to talk to staff about the LGBTQ residents in these homes.  We plan to also have a point person in each home who will keep in touch with us regarding any issues or questions that aries.

Sara: We also want to create centers for the elderly like we saw at the SAGE offices in New York.  Tel Aviv will be the first one. We will soon have a meeting with the Tel Aviv Municipality about pushing ahead with this.

AWB: It sounds like you learned a lot from visiting SAGE.

Robin: Yes, visiting the SAGE offices in New York City was one of the highlights for me! Being in a place that had everything – programs, resources – it was wonderful to see.  I love that SAGE served hot meals to seniors. Isolation is a key thing that LGBTQ seniors face, and so something as simple as providing a hot meal can make a huge difference.

Speaking at Wilton Manners, Florida

Robin: Another highlight was the discussion at Wilton Manners. I loved the energy there. There were about 200 gay men and 2 gay women at our event. The room was filled with joy. This showed me that discussing these serious issues doesn’t have to be a somber thing. It can be joyful.

AWB: What has happened since you’ve returned?

Robin: One sad thing is that one of our organizers in Jerusalem passed away. It really impresses upon us the urgency by which we need to fight for LGBTQ seniors’ rights.

Sara: Yes, I agree.  This trip made it crystal clear that we need to push ahead full force. We are losing people to time, and we have to push forward right now. There is no time to waste.

Beshela at Tel Aviv Pride

Robin: Since we’ve been back, we’ve met with the Tel Aviv LGBTQ Pride Committee. This year’s theme is LGBTQ seniors. So, we were able to meet with them and tell them what kinds of things will make it more comfortable for us.

Chen Arieli at the Knesset

Robin: Also, last week was the Knesset LGBTQ Rights Day. At one of the sessions, Sara and Chen from the Aguda, who was also on the Generation Zahav Tour, addressed about issues concerning LGBTQ seniors. This was very important.

Sara: I was also on TV speaking about Beshela and LGBTQ seniors issues.

Robin: Sara did a fantastic job! It’s the third time recently that Sara has been on TV talking about these issues. I think the fact that Beshela toured the United States gives us more cache with the media. It ups the ante.

Sara: We are definitely making sure that these issues are in the news and that our voices are heard. I like what SAGE is doing. In the same way, we are refusing to be invisible. In Israel, the state of infrastructure for LGBTQ seniors is at ground zero. We really need to pull things up ourselves and continue working quite hard. We are fired up from the trip and eager to continue this fight to make things happen!

AWB: How is the A Wider Bridge Impact Grant to Beshela being used?

Dr. Ruth Litvin, founder of Beshela, gives an inspiring speech at the National Conference on LGBTQ seniors’ issues.

Sara: First of all, thank you so much for this incredibly useful grant. Half of the  grant was used to organize the historic Israeli conference on issues concerning LGBTQ seniors. This took place in December.

Sara: The rest of the grant will be used to assist women in need. We have many women in our community who need financial assistance, and this will help them.

Sara: We thank you so much for this grant and the opportunity to visit the United States, meet people, and learn from other organizations.

Robin: Yes, we want to thank A Wider Bridge for everything!

AWB: Thank YOU for your work supporting LGBTQ seniors in Israel. Keep up the great work!

Our AWB Impact tours are expanding mutual understanding, engagement, and philanthropic support; strengthening the LGBTQ communities of both North America and Israel.

To learn more about the A Wider Bridge Impact Grant, and how you can support our programs, please visit here.

To host an AWB Impact event, click here.