Promoting Pluralism in Israel: A Route to LGBT Equality

A Message from Arthur Slepian, Executive Director of A Wider Bridge, for Pride Month 2016

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Today A Wider Bridge was proud to lead a delegation of LGBT Americans walking in the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, celebrating joyfully and making the concerns of the community heard. We walked together with many of our LGBT friends and partner organizations here in Israel, the American Embassy here in Israel, including Ambassador Dan Shapiro, and several hundred thousand Israelis and people from across the globe in what is the largest LGBT event held in Israel.

For the past week, we have been a collaborative partner on an historic LGBTQ mission led by The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and chaired by our friend Stuart Kurlander. We have seen how much the community here has achieved, and also how much more work remains to be done. We met with young people confident in expressing their LGBT identities in ways that might have been rare even a decade ago. We also met with inspiring LGBT “seniors” who are organizing to bring their voices to the table. From generation to generation, the path to equality grows, evolves and strengthens.

One of the themes of our trip has been the understanding that Israelis are increasingly living lives in four separate “tribes” that will soon be about equal in size– secular, religious Zionist, Arab and ultra-Orthodox. Yet one of the interesting things about our LGBTQ community is that we are present in all the tribes!  We are uniquely positioned to help shape a more pluralistic future for Israel in which these disparate groups work together to make the country better and stronger.

This move toward pluralism is apparent in a cultural revival that is taking place in Jerusalem, where a new generation of young people, both religious and secular, many of whom are involved in arts and culture, and many of whom are LGBT, are seeking to build a vibrant and pluralistic cultural scene in Jerusalem that will make the city a more attractive place for young adults to live.

In the spirit of pluralism, A Wider Bridge is sponsoring a national tour of Jerusalem dance troupe c.a.t.a.m.o.n. to bring Jerusalem’s pluralistic revival to the U.S. If you’re local, we hope you can join us in the next few weeks! Below is information about the artists and tour dates.

Wishing you a joyous, meaningful month of Pride!
–Arthur