Being Queer and Mizrahi | Reut Naggar

Reut Naggar, LGBTQ leaders, LGBTQ mission to Israel

Reut Naggar (second row, second from the right) with A Wider Bridge’s Mission


In November, we celebrate Mizrahi Heritage Month.
We are proud and happy to share with you the thoughts of our friend Reit Naggar, one of the people who established  Hay.a (‘alive’ in Hebrew in both female and male verbs), a queer Mizrahi forum:

What does Hay.a mean for me?
Hay.a for me is to receive a message from someone asking me to talk about this forum and to immediately start singing a Zehava Ben’s song (a Mizrahi singer)
Hay.a for me to attach a photo with my Moroccan bracelets to my answer and to remember the moment I received them, the first in the family, which started a tradition of golden pride.
I got the bracelets from my mother as a graduation present.
I didn’t allow myself to be happy that I graduated because I couldn’t feel a sense of victory or that I earned it through hard work. The feeling was that I was here by mistake.
I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that I’m a woman, Mizrahi, or LGBTQ or post-traumatic; probably, it’s a mix of all this crazy intersection that is the identity of each of us.
It’s called being human.
And I’ve heard from people –
“And why divide us?
Why all the labels?
Why not simply belong and get along with what is there
What are you trying to do?
What do you want?”
I want to feel that I belong.
Because what have we asked for when we established the forum?
We did not ask to split and divide the LGBTQ strength.
We asked to make some space for more voices. Because right now, most of the voices are similar.
And when we have a group, we belong, And when we belong, we dare to speak up and make our voices heard.
And when we make our voice heard, we invite more friends to join.
Only when we make room for more voices – for more colors in the flag – do we reach the critical mass that we are.
And then, we will also take our deserved rights and reach equality.

Zehorit Sorek, Mitzpe Ramon, Queer and Mizrahi, Queer and Religious


In November, we celebrate Mizrahi Heritage Month. Throughout the week we will highlight the voices of the queer Mizrahi community.

Our friend Zehorit Sorek, a religious lesbian woman, mother of two, married to Limor and Moroccan at heart is one of the founders of the Proud (LGBTQ) Religious Community in Israel. She has been a partner and friend of AWB from our early first days. Here are her words:

“In our family, the word ‘Morocco’ was treated with great respect. Throughout my childhood, we have been told that we have deep traditions and roots, but at the same time, we must be part of the Israeli society. The term ‘to be a part’ of Israeli society usually referred to the Ashkenazi hegemony. At times, the term ‘being a part’ is an excuse to erase your identity, especially for those who have immigrated from Islamic countries. ‘To be a part’ meant to be Ashkenazi.

I came out of the closet at the age of 29. It took me a while to put the words ‘lesbian’ and ‘religious’ together. Gradually the additional identities that make up my life were added to the word lesbian: ‘Lesbian mother and wife’ and a ‘religious Moroccan-Mizrahi lesbian woman.’

It was very difficult for my parents to accept my identity. When my father found out I was a lesbian, we had a difficult conversation. He claimed that it was impossible to be a lesbian and religious. When I told him that there is a religious lesbian organization, he said that they are probably all Ashkenazi because there is no such thing among Moroccans. Disconnecting from my parents was hard. I got used to celebrating holidays with a lot of people. When the first Rosh Hashanah came and I could not go to my parents, Limor, my dear wife, tried to comfort me and said: ‘We will celebrate with our two children.’ I stood in the middle of our living room and cried “‘our people is not a holiday.’

I visited Morocco in 2017 for the first time. As a souvenir, I brought miniatures of traditional Moroccan-style shoes with me. They were in the colors of the Pride flag. I framed them when I returned to Israel. I see them as a combination of my roots, my tradition, my family roots, and my lesbian identity and activism within the community.

Today the frame hangs in our living room, so everyone who enters the house knows that in this house there is a past, present, and future.”