Two LGBTQ Israeli organizations Among NCJW Grant Recipients

A Wider Bridge would like to thank our partners at NCJW for investing in two LGBTQ organizations in Israel, Jerusalem Open House and Israel Hofsheet

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) announced a new round of grants to nine Israeli organizations whose work is focused on women’s empowerment, gender equality, and strengthening civil society in Israel. Among the nine organizations, two directly work for the LGBTQ community in Israel: Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance and Israel Hofsheet (‘Be Free Israel’)

“Since 1947, NCJW has been proud to partner with projects in Israel that support women’s empowerment and equality,” said NCJW CEO Nancy K. Kaufman in a press statement. “We believe in helping women succeed and lead – key elements in strengthening Israel as a democratic Jewish state with a vibrant civil society. Supporting innovative grassroots organizations that strive for these ideals is a privilege and a passion for the women of NCJW, whose members and supporters across the United States help raise funds for our Israel Granting Program.”

Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (JOH): Advancing the Transgender Community

NCJW’s grant will support the organization’s work meeting the specific needs of members of the transgender community, who are too often excluded from programs and services. The grant will also support Open House education efforts in which transgender activists present tolerance programs in high schools in order to increase understanding and fight discrimination.

“The Open House and NCJW are collaborating for the third year and we are very excited about that,” said Open House Executive Director Sara Kala-Meir. “This women’s organization for us is a true partner. Through their support we help and promote the transgender community in several ways.”

With the help of the grant JOH operates a health care clinic, funds psychosocial services and a social help group that meets every two weeks.

“It also helps with The Shira Banki Educational Project. There are transgender volunteers who work in the program, and who educate groups, delegations of educational teams, principals and classes of students from schools, getting them to be exposed to the LGBT community and learn about it.

This year’s Jerusalem Pride Parade, on August 3rd, will deal with religion and LGBT, and Sarah says there’s an intention to showcase transgender inclusion there as well. “Many transgender people are religious or have come from the religious world, some of whom are active participants in the parade and its production, and we believe that this will serve their agenda as well as ours,” Sara says.

Israel Hofsheet – Strengthening Equal Rights in Israel by Promoting Marriage Alternatives.

This grant will help Israel Hofsheet’s legal department to assist couples of all types enter into common-law marriages – a growing trend. These common-law marriages are recognized by almost all institutions in Israel and allow couples to avoid the Israeli Rabbinate. The long-term goal is to break the Ultra-Orthodox monopoly over personal status issues in Israel and to establish civil marriage as an option for all.

“Israel Hofsheet started as a small group of volunteer activists. As our activities grew, NCJW became one of our first institutional partners,” says Eyal Akerman. “Not only did their support help us make the transition to a professional organization, but we were also able to leverage their funding to continue to grow. This year, their grant is going towards the legal work of our Freedom of Marriage project, called Havaya. The struggle for civil marriage in Israel continues to be one of our main focus areas. Havaya helps couples marry outside the Ultra-Orthodox Rabbinate, by providing both a legal framework and egalitarian, Jewish wedding ceremonies. With the support of NCJW, we have trained eight volunteer lawyers who will join our Legal Department to help us expand the scope of our legal counseling on issues related to marriage in Israel.”