The AWB Tour with Adi Sadaka and Arnon Allouche from the Haifa Communities’ House continued in Chicago with a stop at the Center on Halsted. The Legacy Project and the Center on Halsted ( the Center ) kicked off the 2018 season of their joint Legacy LIVE series with “When They Go Low, We Go Haifa.”
Chicago Commission on Human Relations ( CCHR ) Policy and Outreach Director Kelly Suzanne Saulsberry welcomed the approximately 50 people in attendance and explained the codes of conduct including no photography or video or audio recordings as well as the procedure for submitting audience questions via a QR code that was provided to every attendee.
Legacy Project Co-Founder/Executive Director Victor Salvo spoke about the international scope of the Legacy Project and how important it is for LGBTQ people, especially young people, to see themselves in history. Salvo said the need to understand LGBTQ history globally, combined with the interfaith nature of the Haifa LGBTQ History Project, was the reason he wanted to bring HCH’s leaders to Chicago.
Legacy Project Education Initiative Co-Director and Chicago State University Information Studies Professor Dr. Gabriel Gomez facilitated a conversation with HCH CEO Arnon Allouche.
They began by discussing that Haifa is Israel’s third largest city and Allouche noted that HCH for Pride and Tolerance—which opened its doors in Jan. 2017—serves as a focus for local Jewish and Arab communities and LGBTQ culture by offering youth safe spaces, education and counseling on healthy lifestyles, families and relationships.
Gomez asked Allouche about the intention of the house’s name which includes the word communities’. Allouche said HCH is the only place in Israel where five religions coexist in one space and where the name is written in Hebrew, Arabic and English. He said, at the moment, it is hard for them to partner with LGBTQ Arab groups in the city due to religious tensions. Allouche also noted that instead of tolerance he would like to change that part of the name to “inclusiveness.” He said he would like to see the multicultural model of HCH help Haifa to rise in prominence for LGBTQ people so they do not leave for Tel Aviv.
As far as the day-to-day operations are concerned, Allouche said HCH is fully funded by the city although they get impact grants to expand their programming beyond could be done with government funding. An AWB impact grant is being used to help transgender women who gather at the monthly empowerment lunches among other initiatives. Allouche explained that, like other places in the world, transgender people struggle the most in Haifa so HCH helps them with a variety of resources. His whole goal is to create positive change for all LGBTQ people in Haifa.
Allouche added that Haifa is the birthplace of Israel’s feminist movement and he became a feminist after becoming HCH’s CEO. He noted that he still has a lot to learn about feminism. Allouche explained that most of the LGBTQ activists in Haifa are women and that he is a minority as a man within HCH’s leadership ranks. Allouche explained that most of what they do at the house is feminist-oriented because women have been very vocal in helping to suggest HCH programming and services needs.
Note: Carrie Maxwell is also a volunteer with the Legacy Project.