Reverse Mission NY-Israel LGBTQ Symposium: A Day in Photos

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On Sunday, September 22nd, A Wider Bridge’s New York-Israel LGBTQ Symposium brought together the LGBTQ, Jewish and pro-Israel communities to discuss our shared challenges and opportunities when advancing equality in Israel.

This event was graciously hosted by Out at the J, Marlene-Meyerson JCC in Manhattan and co-sponsored by Eshel, JQY, Keshet and UJA Pride.

As a photo is worth 1000 words, we hope you enjoy these photos taken by our wonderful event photographer Nancy Adler.


LGBTQ Rights & Challenges in the U.S.

Painting a 30,000 feet picture of LGBTQ rights and challenges in both the United States and Israel with Ohad Hizki, CEO of the Aguda, Israel’s LGBTQ Task Force, Avihoo Miznan, CEO of the Tel Aviv LGBTQ Center, the Honorable Christine Quinn, former Speaker of the New York City Council and CEO of Women in Need, and Dr. Matthew Nosanchuk, former Jewish Liaison to President Obama. Faciliated by AWB’s Ronit Bezalel.

Paving the Road for Transgender Equality

A discussion on the legal status of transgender folks in the U.S. & Israel, as well as the societal challenges that remain in achieving full equality and inclusion. With Tanya Walker, Co-Founder of New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG) and Octavia Lewis, the Transgender Health Coordinate at Montefiore Medical Center (Tanya & Octavia are both members of A Wider Bridge’s Beyond the Bridge Alumni network and have attended a Leadership Mission to Israel), Elisha Alexander, CEO of Ma’avarim, Israel’s trans rights organization. Moderated by AWB’s Quentin Hill.

LGBTQ Communities in the Periphery

While many major population centers from Manhattan to Tel Aviv have thriving LGBTQ communities, many LGBTQ folks live farther from liberal, open, and accepting city centers. This dialogue centered Israeli & American organizations providing advocacy and community support for LGBTQ communities with a different set of needs.

With Arine Szyboeski, Board Member of the Pride House of Be’ersheva, Eran Globus, Chair of Jerusalem Open House for Pride & Tolerance, Sean Coleman, CEO of Destination Tomorrow and the Bronx Pride Center,  Jere Keys, Development & Engagement Manager of the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, moderated by Tyler Gregory, ED, A Wider Bridge.

Combating HIV/AIDS & Ending Stigma

A discussion on the shared challenges of combating HIV/AIDS and stigma for people living with HIV in the U.S. & Israel. Both countries are still wrestling with infections affecting more marginalized communities, providing access to preventatives like PREP and PEP, as well as treatment, combating stigma and supporting those living with HIV.

With Adrian Guzman, Director of Policy & External Affairs, Bureau of HIV, New York City Department of Health, Chen Shmilo, CEO of the Israel HIV/AIDS Task Force, Moderated by Daniel Reinglass, AWB

LGBTQ Youth & Families

A dialogue addressing the crucial work of supporting LGBTQ youth and their families across the Atlantic. Joining us are Ofer Newman, CEO of Israel Gay Youth (IGY), Tamar Yahel, CEO of Hoshen (Israel’s LGBTQ educational organization), Miriam Bialer, Chair of Tehila (Israel’s PFLAG), Rachael Fried, Executive Director of Jewish Queer Youth (JQY), and Dubbs Weinblatt, Associate Director of Education & Training of Keshet.

LGBTQ Rights & Religious Activism

Participants grappled with the dual challenges of being LGBTQ in religious spaces and being religious in LGBTQ spaces. Hear from activists who refuse to choose between their identities. Israeli panelists will feature Etty Haddad, Board Member of Bat Kol (queer religious women) and Avichai Abarbanel, CEO of Havruta (gay religious men), both on the forefront of LGBTQ religious activism. They will be joined by Shlomo Ashkinazy, Board Chair of Eshel, Rev. Lea Matthews, Associate Pastor at St. Paul & St. Andrew in New York, and Mathew Shurka, Founder of the Born Perfect campaign leading the fight against conversion therapy.


Alan Schwartz, AWB Board Chair

Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, President, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

Honorable Ritchie Torres, New York City Council

Dani Dayan, Israel Consul General to New York

Rabbi Joy Levitt, Executive Director, JCC Manhattan

Closing Remarks by AWB’s Executive Diector Tyler Gregory