Five Facts About Israeli Pride

by | Jun 18, 2018 | Entertainment, Facts, Fun, Hillel Ontario, LGBTQ+ | 0 comments

1. Israel was the first country in Asia to recognize any same-sex union, and still is in the Middle East, where most countries continue to criminalize same-sex relationships. This may explain why one of Tel Aviv’s many nicknames is “The Gay Capital in the Middle East.” Currently, Israel still does not allow gay marriage, but couples who get married outside of Israel are considered married in Israel, regardless of their sexual orientation. And hopefully Israel will soon be among the many countries who can proudly say that they allow same-sex marriages.

2. Tel Aviv was ranked the best gay city
In 2011, gaycities.com in collaboration with American Airlines put out a worldwide survey to find out what their users consider the World’s Best Gay Travel Destination. With 43% of the votes, Tel Aviv ended up in first place, followed by New York (14%), Toronto (7%), Sao Paulo (6%), and London and Madrid (5%). (https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/travel/1.5163176)

3. LGBTQ in the Knesset
Throughout the spectrum of Israeli parties you can find gay members and supporters of the LGBTQ movement. The first openly gay member of the Knesset was Uzi Even, who is a member of Meretz, a left-wing, social-democratic party and was elected in 2002. Since then, three other openly gay politicians were voted into the Knesset, and more than 11 parties and members of the Knesset have pledged to support the LGBTQ community. On February 23, 2016, the Knesset celebrated the first LGBT rights day.

4. More than 250,000 people participated in the Pride Parade this year, which marked the 20th annual Pride Parade in Tel Aviv. Out of the 250,000 participants, 30,000 travelled to Tel Aviv specifically to celebrate their pride. If you compare these numbers to previous years, you will see how much the LGBTQ community in Tel Aviv has grown. Last year 200,000 people marched alongside many colorful floats in one of the largest parades of its kind worldwide. In 2014, 100,000 people joined the march. This means that the parade has grown by 150% over the past five years.

5. The Israeli Army does not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2014 the first global index, ranking armies on their inclusion of the LGBTQ community, was published. According to the report, the Israeli Defense Force made it into the top ten of more than 100 countries. Factors playing into the final results included anti-discrimination policies regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, army representation at LGBTQ events, recognition of gay marriage, and many more. Countries could receive a maximum of 100 points. With 92 points, Israel closely followed Canada (94 points) and far exceeded the US(73).

 

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023

In their research on listening to survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides, Bronwen E. Low and Emmanuelle Sonntag note listeners’ problematic tendencies towards one of two responses.  On the one hand, they can regard the narratives as so unfamiliar and foreign that they must be pushed away as overwhelming, untouchable, and inaccessible.  On the other, the stories can be seen as familiar, to the point that the listener cannot separate their own experiences and emotional response from what they take in.

But another, preferable response exists: Roger I. Simon and Claudia Eppert talk about a “chain of testimony” and suggest that listening imposes a duty on the listener.  Listening to personal testimony at the crossroads of memory and history “imposes particular obligations on those called to receive it – obligations imbued with the exigencies of justice, compassion, and hope that define the horizon for a world yet to be realized.”  In this way, bearing witness and listening to testimony demands a number of actions and responses, including that we “transport and translate stories of past injustices beyond their moment of telling by taking these stories to another time and space where they become available to be heard or seen.”

If we take Simon and Eppert’s charge seriously, as I believe we should, those of us who have been privileged to hear the direct testimony of survivors of the Holocaust.  Their words come not just with the specific knowledge they impart or the emotional impact they have on us – sorrow, anger, fear, horror – but with a duty, an obligation of some kind.  

On many of our campuses, this week is Holocaust Education Week, and this Friday marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Given the significant number of Holocaust survivors and their descendants in Canada, the scheduled events and programs have a personal resonance for many of our students and their families, but their impact can be deep and meaningful for all of us, regardless of who we are and where we come from.  I encourage each of you to make time to participate in this week’s activities and to consider your place in the chain of testimony: what obligation does listening to narratives from the Holocaust place on you, and how do you carry those stories forward in time?

 

Weekly D’var: Shemot

Weekly D’var: Shemot

In this week’s parashah we learn the story of Moses, from his birth, through his flight from and eventual return to Egypt, to the acceptance of his role as leader of the Hebrew people.

After fleeing Egypt, for killing an Egyptian slave master, Moses was living rather peacefully as a shepherd in the land of Midian. The Torah describes for us Moses’s first interaction with G-d upon coming across a bush, “burning with a heart of fire [Exodus 3:3]”. G-d calls out to Moses and requests he take the Jewish people out of Egypt and eventually into the land of Israel. However, Moses argues with G-d, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? Who am I that I should take the Jews out of Egypt? [Exodus 3:11]” After initially refusing four times, Moses eventually agrees to G-ds request, and as we know, the rest is history. But why was Moses so unwilling to take up the position of leader, to the extent that he would argue with G-d? And why was G-d so set on having Moses lead the Jewish people? 

Perhaps the answer can be found through the incident that led to his flight from Egypt, years earlier, when Moses, as mentioned above, killed an Egyptian slave master for beating a Hebrew slave. Immediately, he was met with opposition from some of the Hebrew slaves, “who made you chief and ruler over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian? [Exodus 2:14]” Moses felt discouraged and unsure of his ability to lead. However, it seems that G-d saw in Moses, a faithful shepherd, the ability to lead his people from slavery to freedom. Very often in Tanakh, the people that are most worthy to lead are the ones who deny that they are worthy at all. Moses may not appear to be the first choice for a leadership figure, suffering from a speech impediment and lacking charisma; however, Moses possessed certain qualities that made him the ideal leader to bring the Jewish people out of Egypt. We too possess qualities that can lead us to achieve incredible success and realize our full potential. We may often feel unmotivated or unsure of our own capabilities. Instead of feeling discouraged, I believe we can look to Moses who, despite all his doubts, stepped up to the challenge and became the greatest leader in Jewish history. 

Sam Virine
VP of Jewish Life at Hillel Waterloo & Laurier

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