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).

 

Press Release: Hillel Ontario Condemns UofT UTSC BDS

Press Release: Hillel Ontario Condemns UofT UTSC BDS

At its Annual General Meeting last night, the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) sent a clear message to Jewish students: You are not welcome here. In a motion that reaffirms the Union’s commitment to the antisemitic BDS movement, the SCSU singled out and condemned a former executive for “displaying an Israeli flag,” and resolved not to partner with organizations that normalize Israel. The motion further resolved that future elected representatives and staff would be formally required to endorse BDS.

The SCSU then rejected an amendment to the motion proposed by Jewish students that would prevent the Union from boycotting the Jewish clubs on campus.

In response, Rob Nagus, Senior Director of Hillel UofT issued the following:

Last night’s conduct by the SCSU violated the University of Toronto’s Statement on Human Rights, which prohibits discrimination and harassment based on creed, ethnic origin, and citizenship. Hillel has long voiced its serious concerns with the impacts of the BDS movement on the Scarborough Campus. This latest attempt to boycott and exclude Jewish students and organizations from campus life must be named and challenged.

Hillel is calling on the University of Toronto to demonstrate its commitment to the values reflected by its policies, including its recent Statement on Antisemitism and Racism, by issuing a condemnation and rejection of the SCSU’s motion, and taking the necessary steps required to ensure Jewish student life is protected on campus.

For more information, please contact:
Rob Nagus,
Senior Director of Hillel UofT
Hillel Ontario
rob.nagus@hillelontario.org  |  647.638.1749

In Memory of my Teacher, Mentor and Role Model

In Memory of my Teacher, Mentor and Role Model

Written by Rabbi Aaron Greenberg

I am sure many of you by now have heard of the tragic passing of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. I have no doubt you have read about how he was a beacon  of morality to humanity, a confidante to state and religious leaders across the entire world. Perhaps you also read that his lectures, speeches, books and articles are filled with wisdom, brilliance and sophistication. While all that is true, I want to tell you about my personal interactions with him. 

I was first introduced to Rabbi Sacks’s writings twenty years ago, and I began purchasing each book he published the moment it was available. I was an avid reader of his books and articles, and I yearned to meet with him and engage him in conversation. This opportunity finally arrived in November of 2011. Hillel was co-partnering on a program to have the Chief Rabbi engage in conversation with one of the most well known Canadian intellectuals of the time, Prof Charles Taylor. 

Prior to the start of the event, I was pacing the halls of the theatre when I noticed the Chief Rabbi standing on the side alone! I found myself drawn to where he was standing, knowing full well that this could be the pivotal moment when I would finally be able to engage with my mentor, who was larger than life. Those of you that know me know that I am rarely at a loss for words, but I could not get out more than a pathetic whimper of “shalom”. The rabbi, sensing my nerves, asked me a series of questions and was excited to learn that I worked with students on campus as part of the OU-JLIC, a program that partners with Hillel. Finally, after a few moments, I asked him for some wisdom about working with students, and he looked at me with his piercing but loving eyes and said,  

‘You must make Torah Judaism relevant, meaningful, and real. Judaism is an ancient religion with modern and profound lessons. This needs to be taught and modeled. Be a proud Jew, be truthful to it but be humble to always learn from others. Be happy and smile. People will smile back.” 

Of course, he said it with more profundity and his very elegant British accent, but the message to me was crystal clear. I had a mission from which I dare not deviate, no matter what challenges awaited. Fast forward four and a half years. His office insisted he meet with the president of the university that morning and deliver a lecture to York faculty, but the highlight (his word, not mine) was to address students in the Zac Kaye Hillel lounge at York University to a packed crowd.  His message to the students was the message that he had told me years prior: that they should never stop learning and growing as Jews and as citizens of the world and to hearken (yes, he actually used that word) to the moral voice of the Jewish tradition. 

Rabbi Sacks had much more to accomplish. His website indicates numerous projects that he had initiated that are unfinished and in progress. It is our duty as his students, his moral heirs, to continue living by his creed, to continue to make Judaism relevant and meaningful. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife Lady Elaine, his children Joshua, Dina and Gila and his entire family at this difficult time. May we come together during these challenging times and become stronger, prouder and more committed Jews to truly honor his memory and continue his legacy.

“Wars are won with weapons but it takes ideas to win at peace” 

“Good leaders create followers, great leaders create leaders.” 

“Morality can no longer be predicated on the state, for we have become too diverse to allow a single morality to be legislated. Nor can it be located in the individual, for morality cannot be private in this way. We have neglected the third domain: that of community.”

Here is one of his most thoughtful videos: Why I am a Jew? 

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