Transgender Israeli superstar Dana International wrote a special column dedicated to Gay Pride in Jerusalem that took place yesterday: “How important it is for the world to see the march in Jerusalem. They will see the great light, and not the evil and fanaticism and hatred of a handful of its citizens who want to tarnish its name and all of ours.”
“Everyone has a city in their heart called Jerusalem, which they dream for. Everyone has a place in Jerusalem that they call love.” This is what Israeli iconic lyricist Natan Yonatan wrote in one of the hundreds of love, longing and yearning songs written for the city that every soul on earth has said its name. I have my Jerusalem, too. The one from the first annual school trip, on the bus that was creaking up the hills of Jerusalem with dozens of young Tel Aviv children who came out running as the doors opened to the Western Wall, running straight to the stones. I was among them, I remember closing my eyes and asking the stones for everything I dreamed of because my mother told me “this is the place where G-d hears us.”
The night before going to the Eurovision, I went there again, but this time I didn’t dare approach the stones. I stood there in the distance. I was afraid that if I went to the women’s section I would encounter Jews who would curse and beat me, so I looked from a distance and whispered what the heart wanted so much.
A year later, in the Tower of David, one of the holiest places to the Jewish people, I was no longer afraid. Even though there were those who threatened to stop with their bodies the “impurity”- me- I sang there to hundreds of millions of viewers around the world the message that was so important to me, “I Am Free.”
Today, Jerusalem will once again be in the heart of thousands of people with moral values who will march in its streets, in a parade that seeks to spread light and love. The parade in Jerusalem this year is devoted to religious and traditional-religious LGBT people, perhaps the most courageous people who, despite prohibitions, difficulties and boycotts, dare to be the first generation in our land to say in a loud voice that it is indeed possible to love and worship God and at the same time to realize who they really are.
They are part of the DNA of the Jewish people over the years, the controversies of Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel. Those who are stringent and meticulous, and those who make it easier and advocate compromise. Those are saying ‘the Halacha (Jewish law) is what we do,’ and the others say ‘the Halacha is what WE do,’ until a voice was heard (‘Bat Kol’) that said ‘The Halacha is like Beit Hillel.’ And how come Beit Hillel won, that the Halacha was set according to them? For being the accepting and compromising that they were. In the Beit Shamai temple the other opinions weren’t being heard or spoken. In the Beit Hillel temple, on the other hand, the opinions of the House were taught and uttered only after they had heard the opinions of Beit Shammai. And the Halacha, it was determined, is not according to those who are right, but according of those who listen.
Difficult days have passed over the divided and torn Jerusalem, and its children are fighting each other, and confronting each other and killing each other, and the holiness surrounding the city is sure to shrink from shame, but today for a few hours we will be able to see the other Jerusalem. The way she really should be. A city of peace, tolerance and love, and the sons and daughters of Jerusalem who love it and do not surrender to a handful of people who sanctify and shout their hatred-for-nothing in a city that was once destroyed precisely because of people like them. Thousands of good people will paint an imaginary rainbow that will illuminate the city in many colors, and this spectrum will be seen today by people all over the world. And how important it is for the world to see the march in Jerusalem today. They will see the great light, and not the evil and fanaticism and hatred of a handful of its citizens who want to tarnish its name and all of ours.