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).

 

Something New

Something New

The fall post-holiday period is always a good time for launching new things. To the extent we’re not completely exhausted, our five-day work weeks are back (instead of five days of work crammed into three-day weeks), and we’re able to get into something of a rhythm and build momentum in moving toward specific goals.

Adding to the sense of newness and adventure, the third post-holidays Torah portion of Lekh Lekha, which was read this past Shabbat, begins with Abraham receiving divine instructions to leave his home and begin a journey to a new land.  Commentators highlight the uncertainty inherent in the command’s wording: instead of being directed to a specific place, Abraham, at least initially, is told to go “to the land that I will show you,” a vague and undisclosed destination. While he is promised blessings galore for his obedience, setting out requires an element of faith and quite a bit of trust as he leaves his home land and father’s house for somewhere new.

While it’s certainly several orders of magnitude smaller than the journey Abraham undertook, Hillel Ontario is trying something new this week: we’re introducing a new section to our regular newsletters and will be including a d’var Torah to showcase our students’ and staff’s skills and present our readers with a bit of Jewish learning. We hope you’ll find these commentaries inspiring and meaningful and that they’ll provide a glimpse of the Hillel Ontario community that spans our nine campuses.

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

Dear students, parents, supporters, and other members of the Ontario Jewish community,

We are writing to you as the Hillel presidents representing nine universities across Ontario. 

We are often asked what it’s like to be a Jewish student on campus. And, in previous years, we would have taken a more upbeat approach to answering that question. The truth is that things have changed over the past 5 months.

Prior to this spring’s war in Israel, we had never experienced the level of vitriol and backlash that we did recently. We were caught off guard. Many Jewish students lost friendships and severed connections that had been created over many years. Our mental health was stretched to the limit; we have felt burnt out, isolated and anxious.  Even now, with autumn upon us, we are still feeling the exhausting effects of a summer spent advocating for the well-being of our fellow Jewish students. 

Walking back onto campus this week, it was difficult to see some students obviously (and understandably) anxious – both because of the pandemic, and because of the antisemitism Jewish students have experienced over the past several months. At the same time, we also feel more empowered than ever to proclaim pride in our Jewish identity, bolstered by the tremendous support we have felt from across the community.  

Whether you are a first year student, a parent, a sibling, an alum, or simply a member of the community concerned about what seems like an endless barrage of attacks aimed at Jewish students on campus, we want to assure you that as Hillel presidents, we are deeply committed to our roles and responsibilities. We hear your concerns. And, we are proud to serve the current and future Jewish students we support.  

We are working to build relationships with student governments, clubs, interfaith groups, faculty, and administrators on each of our campuses. We continue to empower our peers to learn, to educate, and to advocate for the issues close to our hearts. And, we continue to provide a safe and welcoming community for Jewish students, both on and off campus. 

We also seek to increase resources and staff available to our students so that no one feels unsupported or ill-prepared. We want Jewish students to feel like they can be their entire selves without having to hide a Magen David or avoid conversations about Judaism, Zionism or Israel. 

As we move into a new Jewish year and a new school year, we wish we could say with more certainty exactly what is to come in the next few months. However, it would be naive to do so. Instead, we would like to take this opportunity to commit to you that we will continue to have challenging, but necessary, dialogue with allies across campus. We will continue to support our peers when they feel uncomfortable. And, we will continue to ask for help when we need it. 

Time and time again, our collective history has proven that in a proud, empowered, and united community there is strength, and that from one another we can draw resilience. 

L’shana Haba on quieter, more inclusive campuses. 

Ariel Oren, Guelph Hillel
Evan Kanter, Hillel Student Leader Representative, Hillel UofT
Nathaniel Katz, Queen’s Hillel
Shira Miller, Hillel Laurier
Danielle Lebowitz, Hillel Waterloo
Hannah Silverman, McMaster Hillel
Jordan Goldenberg, Hillel Ryerson
Isabel Borisov, Western Hillel
Nicole Bodenstein, York Hillel

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