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An Orthodox Woman from Belarus Comes Out, Finds Love in Israel

Nadia Aizner from Belarus found an important home in Bat Kol, an organization for Orthodox lesbian women. “We’ve started a revolution and there’s no turning back the clock,” she says.

Two weeks ago on Shabbat at Jerusalem’s Kehilat Zion synagogue, Nadia Aizner stood with glistening eyes under a canopy together with her partner Lena Kuznetsova, holding their newborn daughter, Tair – a name that means “she will light.” The palpable emotion among congregants was a testament to Nadia’s ability to publicly hold both her devotion to Judaism and her identity as a lesbian.

Unexpected junctures punctuated Nadia’s life-journey. She is the daughter of secular parents from Minsk, Belarus. She was married to a man, and maintained a dati-leumi (national-religious) marriage. Today she is partnered in a civil union with a woman and is the mother of six children. She remains Orthodox.

Nadia remembers feeling drawn to Judaism even before religious expression became acceptable in Belarus, “As life became more open and free, I had better access to books on Judaism and I found myself really connecting to the mitzvot and the traditions.”

Then a year after Nadia arrived in Israel, she chose a religious high school for herself, Ulpana Tiveria, where she found kindred spirits and inspiring teachers. It was years later, once Nadia had married and started a family, that she returned to her childhood passion of writing poetry and prose. She began to explore the Internet more. In that way, she gradually understood more about herself.

“It took me several years to come out of the closet to myself, and then a few years more to get divorced,” tells Nadia. “And along the way, I explained these changes as well as I could to my children. Keeping the lines of communication open has been key for us.”

Nadia found an important home in NIF grantee Bat Kol, an organization for religious lesbians, where she could express her activism, particularly at the Religious Tolerance Day on Pesach Sheni(second Passover), an initiative started by religious LGBTQ+ groups to acquaint Orthodox people with LGBTQ+ people from their communities. Continue reading on Shatil News