Gay son and his mother speak at Tiberias pride about LGBTQ Acceptance

Avichai Abarbanel, CEO of Havruta (Israel’s Religious Org for Gay Men), and his mom Hadassa Abarbanel speak about love and acceptance at this year’s Tiberias pride.

I’m here because I believe my family is real, that Avichai’s family and the one he will have is real. I’m here because I’m refusing to accept anyone cursing and harming my children, or children and grandchildren of others.”

The translation is below: (video here: https://bit.ly/2ZTs2jX ):

Hadassah: Good evening. My name is Hadassa Abarbanel. I live in Kibbutz Lavi together with Itzik, my husband for nearly thirty years, where we raised our eight children, including Avichai, for whom I choose to stand here today.

This is not my natural environment; the stage, the audience, the event of pride and tolerance. I am here despite the difficulties, despite the challenges and questions that sometimes arise within me.

I’m here because eleven years ago, my eldest son, Avichai, approached to me and came out to me. He told me, “I’m gay.”

I’m here because like back then, when I immediately replied that “you are my son and I will always love you,” also today I love you and will always love you Avichai, and I will do everything I can to help you build a happy life.

I want to tell you that when Avichai came out, a little dream I had broke. For years I imagined the family that one day my son would have, his wife and children, their religious home who would certainly be on the kibbutz next to us. I had this kind of sweet pink dream, which its realness didn’t bother me, I just found it pleasant to think about it.

When Avichai came out, I had to cope, among other things, with the understanding that the dream I had isn’t going to happen, that there would not be a woman, nor children. he probably will not live on the kibbutz when he grows up and maybe, and perhaps most unfortunately of all – will not keep a religious life. The possible distancing from religion – that’s what hurt me the most.

Fortunately enough, pretty quickly I accepted the fact that he would not have a wife but a husband, and over the years I also met back through Avichai the dream of grandchildren from him. Also, through his activity in Havruta, IGY’s religious groups and the Religious LGBTQ Community, I’ve realized that religion also has and probably will have a central place in his life.

I’m here because in recent months various organizations and movements have been trying to hurt us, my children, our families, and communities. I’m here because I believe my family is real, that Avichai’s family and the one he will have is real. I’m here because I’m refusing to accept anyone cursing and harming my children, or children and grandchildren of others.

I am here because I believe that there is a place in Judaism and in the religious world for Avichai, his friends and his community. I’m here to cry out loud that “Derech Eretz” is prior to the Torah, and also that as Rabbi Akiva said  – ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is the great principle of the Torah. I’m here because I believe in love, tolerance, acceptance, and respect for others. I’m here for Avichai, for you, but also for myself and for all of us.

*****

Avichai: Good evening.

My name is Avichai Abarbanel, I was born and raised in Kibbutz Lavi, not far from here. As a child in Lavi, Tiberias has always been the big city where going out to was considered special and exciting, the cultural center of “outside the kibbutz”.

I am really excited, after a decade of parading and taking part in pride events throughout the country, to have the honor not only to participate in the first pride event in Tiberias but the privilege of doing so with my mother next to me – in the first time she accompanies me to a pride event.

I’m also privileged and proud to come here when I am no longer the frightened and shy boy in the closet I was, but as the chairperson of Havruta a gay and religious organization, and a leader of the Religious LGBTQ Community, to know that I have the honor to take a significant part in our struggle for an egalitarian, tolerant and just society, and even more so – for our right for the Judaism and religion on whose knees we were raised.

In recent months we have witnessed several attempts to offend our children and families. The extremist margins of our society decided to launch a campaign against anyone who’s not like them. “Hazon” movement, “Liba” and “Bocharim Ba`Mishpachah” are engaged in a competition of hatred, of spreading evil, of disqualifying people from their identity, of exclusion of families. 

Come on, let’s be real.

It’s below us. We are stronger than that, more confident, and most of all, we exist.

We have no argument with them, a father and a mother are a family. One type of family. A father and a father are too, or mother and mother, or just a father, or just a mother and of course it does not stop there. Everything exists, everything is there. It can not be erased or eliminated, and in any case – you can only object to a thing when it simply exists.

But in the Religious LGBTQ Community and Havruta, that doesn’t concern us. We are engaged in building families, creating life, finding the path to integrate religion and pride. We in the Religious LGBTQ Community and Havruta are creating alternatives, building hope, finding life possibilities.

IGY’s youth marched with a slogan few years ago, announcing that we are here and everywhere – and this is also becoming true for us in the Religious LGBTQ Community. This year, we acted in an unprecedented number of cities and authorities and met countless communities and religious figures. We have enjoyed a wide-ranging dialogue with rabbis and  reached out to quite a few batei-midrash and yeshivas.

And on a personal note, Mom, I love you and appreciate you being here.

Thank you for choosing to be here with me, to demand, for me and us, the life that comes to me, to us.

Just like that.

In a discourse of love, listening and mutual respect, we can create here the land on which we dream, according to the vision of the prophets.

Keep being as perfect as you are,

Thanks!