About Us

Our Mission

 

A Wider Bridge:

 

Builds a strong relationship between the LGBTQ communities in North America and Israel

Advances LGBTQ Inclusion in Israel through Impact Grants to LGBTQ-focused Israeli organizations

Advocates for justice, counters LGBTQphobia, and fights antisemitism and other forms of hatred

Our Story

A Wider Bridge was founded by Arthur Slepian in 2010 to provide opportunities for LGBTQ people in North America to build meaningful relationships with Israel and LGBTQ people in Israel. From its outset, AWB has provided LGBTQ people with the opportunity to engage with Israel in ways that matter to them personally, and to demonstrate that they have a stake in Israel and its future.

 

Moved by Tragedy Into Action

In 2009, a masked gunman entered the Bar Noar LGBTQ youth center in Tel Aviv and opened fire, killing two and injuring fifteen. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Israel’s LGBTQ community came together to mourn and to heal, and looked to friends in North America for support.

Founder Arthur Slepian traveled to Israel to meet with leaders, activists and artists in Israel’s LGBTQ communities.

Arthur reflects on his 2009 visit: “I met with organization leaders, political leaders, radical activists and filmmakers. All these conversations convinced me of the same thing: These are stories that deserve to be told. This is work that deserves to be encouraged and supported. There is so much to be gained from dialogue and collaboration. It shouldn’t take a tragedy of this magnitude for us to learn from, work with, and support one another.”

A Wider Bridge began primarily as an LGBTQ Jewish organization, as Arthur saw a need for LGBTQ Jews to have more opportunities to engage with and connect to Israel and the Jewish community. This need continues. But over time, our work expanded to also provide LGBTQ folks and allies – Jews and non-Jews – with opportunities to connect with Israel’s vibrant LGBTQ community and the Jewish and Democratic State.

Together, we work to advance LGBTQ rights in Israel, advocate for justice, counter LGBTQ phobia, and fight antisemitism and other forms of hatred.

 

Learn about our work

We Refuse To Choose, Jewish Inclusive Pride Flag
We Refuse To Choose, Jewish Inclusive Pride Flag

FAQs

Rabbi Nachmuch of Breslov said, “All the world is a very narrow bridge. The important thing is not to be afraid.” A Wider Bridge believes that we reduce fear by joining together, supporting one another in our journeys, and standing together in the fight for acceptance. 

We build bridges – most directly between the North American and Israeli LGBTQ communities – but also across other lines, including religious, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, geographic, generational, cultural, and many more. 

We take a values-driven approach to our Zionism, rooted in our belief that Israel must be both a democratic and Jewish state that advances the rights, opportunities and dignity of all people.

A Wider Bridge builds a strong relationship between LGBTQ communities in North America and Israel. We advance LGBTQ inclusion in Israel through Impact Grants to LGBTQ-focused Israeli organizations. We advocate for justice, counter LGBTQphobia, and fight antisemitism and other forms of hatred. We are proudly queer, proudly Zionist, and proudly diverse in bringing together Jews and non-Jews, LGBTQ folks, and allies.

A Wider Bridge believes that we are most effective when we focus on issues and leave partisan electoral debates to others. We build relationships with government officials and decision-makers across the political spectrum to advocate for the rights and dignity of all LGBTQ people. We also speak out against policies and governmental initiatives that harm the LGBTQ community, democracy, and equality in Israel and the United States. 

We take a values-driven approach to our Zionism, rooted in our belief that Israel must be both a democratic and Jewish state that advances the rights, opportunities and dignity of all people.

We do not endorse political parties, or candidates for elected office in the U.S., Canada, or and Israel, although we may speak out about important issues being raised especially related to LGBTQphobia

And we do all this with strict adherence to the rules of our 501(c)3 status. 

Yes. We believe that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. And we believe that Palestinians have the right to self-determination.  

A Wider Bridge plays an important role in peacebuilding efforts. Many of the groups we support work with very diverse constituencies that include Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze and others, both Israeli and Palestinian. By supporting these LGBTQ organizations, we foster a climate of inclusivity and equality for everyone. 

Our missions meet with Israelis and Palestinians, including those working in peacebuilding groups. We give a high priority to encountering organizations and individuals that lift up the complex narratives of those whom we hope will eventually live in a shared society and as neighbors in a two-state solution. We recognize that there are widely divergent perspectives. We welcome healthy debate and try to build commonalities among us as LGBTQ people and allies that transcend the polarizing, often toxic discourse that too often surrounds the conflict.

A Wider Bridge raises our funding from individual supporters and foundations as well as program revenue. We are grateful for the generosity of many supporters who believe in our values and support our cause. To see our recent list of donors, view our Annual Report. A Wider Bridge does not receive any funds from any country or state government, including the Israeli government.

‘Pink washing’ is an accusation used to silence positive conversation about the Israeli LGBTQ community as somehow ostensibly motivated by an ulterior agenda , to downplay criticism of Israel, especially as it relates to the Palestinian community. 

Similar strategies have been used to silence discussion of Israeli achievement in areas as diverse as environmental protection (“greenwashing”), veganism (“veganwashing”), or cuisine more broadly (“dishwashing”). A Wider Bridge believes that a full and informed conversation about all aspects of Israeli society, positive and negative, leads to a better understanding of life in a complex region. 

AWB does not engage in pinkwashing. We champion progress for LGBTQ people, never at the expense of other communities that experience discrimination, bigotry or injustice. Our goal is not to elevate one community by minimizing the struggles of another.

Yes! Our supporters are extremely diverse, with an array of cultural, religious, ethnic, and racial identities. We welcome all people, regardless of background, to join our community if they share our desire to strengthen LGBTQ equality in Israel and for Israel. 

Many if not most of the participants in our missions are not Jewish. In order to advance our work, we believe it is vital to build relationships with non-Jewish leaders and communities.

Just as non-Jewish leaders play a critical role in our community, nongay allies are essential for advancing our work for LGBTQ equality in Israel and in the United States. We encourage you to attend a local event, follow us on social media, make a donation, and build bridges with us toward empathy, equality, and peace.

We proudly support 20 Israeli LGBTQ organizations (and counting) who promote equality all across Israel. Learn more about our Impact Grants program.

A Wider Bridge believes that the LGBTQ community is stronger when it includes a diverse range of views and perspectives. In the past, supporters of Israel have been excluded or made to feel uncomfortable in some progressive spaces, including within the LGBTQ community. We launched our “We Refuse to Choose” campaign in response to such events. 

We assert that no one can force us to choose between our identities. Our support for Israel is central to our Jewish identity and our LGBTQ identity. We cannot be forced into any closets. We refuse to prioritize and rank the multifaceted components of our identities. We refuse to choose.

For years, we have used a traditional six color rainbow pride flag with a white Star of David in the center – and we have fought back those who rejected this symbol of our pride. In recent years, a new pride flag has gained prominence – with additional colors representing marginalized groups – including people of color, trans individuals, and those living with HIV or who have lost their lives due to HIV.

Our beautiful new flag puts those missing colors inside the Jewish star. The new AWB flag not only embraces this inclusive spirit – it projects inclusion as a core Jewish value. We believe that when one part of the community is excluded, we are all left weaker and less vibrant. The flag represents all the identities in our community and symbolically states that one cannot remove the Jewish star and still be inclusive.

For A Wider Bridge, our connection to Israel is an integral part of our Jewish identity and our LGBTQ identity.  We wave this flag and say We Refuse to Choose between any of the inseparable parts of our identities – and we will not be excluded from either the LGBTQ or Jewish communities.

I want to join your missions – Please send a statement of interest telling us about yourself, your work, and how participating in an AWB mission will impact that work and our world. Statements should be sent to info@awiderbridge.org