Patriotic Pride

by Brian on August 4, 2010

in A Parent in Israel,In the News,Only in Israel

The Jerusalem Pride Parade, 2010

Some 3,000 people marched from Jerusalem’s Independence Park to the Knesset in last week’s annual Gay Pride parade. My daughter Merav and I were there to support the community.

It’s been a long time since I was at a gay parade – I used to regularly join the massive San Francisco event in the 1970s when I was growing up. That parade attracted hundreds of thousands of merry-makers. I wrote about it here.

The march in Jerusalem is much smaller, of course, it also has an added religious dimension. There were as many police as participants on hand Thursday; they were on guard against attacks like the one three years ago by an ultra-Orthodox man who stabbed three people.

This year, the protests included right wing groups holding cardboard cut-outs of donkeys, calling the event a parade of “bestiality.” The protesters had originally asked for a permit to bring live donkeys, which the police rejected.

That same religious element cuts the other way too, though – towards tolerance – and it’s part of what makes the parade in Jerusalem so unique. There were many men sporting kippot (yarmulkes) on their heads as well as women dressed in uber-modest Orthodox garb (long sleeves & skirts, tightly covered hair).

Other participants wore t-shirts reading “I’m proud to be religious” or carried signs indicating which religious high schools they attended including Jerusalem’s prestigious Orthodox Horev and Pelech schools.

The message was clear: don’t exclude us from any community, including the religious. It’s in keeping with a statement released last week by 150 Orthodox rabbis and educators including Rabbi Benny Lau and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin stating that “Jews with homosexual orientations or same sex-attractions should be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community.”

The parade was accompanied by a marching band with drum and bagpipe as it wound its way toward the Wohl Rose Garden overlooking the Knesset where a large stage was set-up for speeches and song.

But the mood turned somber as speakers recalled August 1, 2009, the day a shooter entered the Tel Aviv Bar Noar gay and lesbian youth center and killed two members, wounding 15 others. This year’s parade in Jerusalem was delayed several months to coincide with the anniversary of the Tel Aviv tragedy (for which the assailant has yet to be found).

As Merav and I prepared to leave, we passed several booths selling souvenirs. Merav bought a multi-colored bracelet to show her support. But she also had her eye on a dog tag necklace with an Israeli flag, which I gladly purchased for her. After all, isn’t that what patriotism is all about: supporting equality for all Israelis, no matter which shade paints their rainbow.

I wrote about the parade last week on Israelity.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Shifra August 4, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Thank you for this — I deeply mourn the tragic losses in Tel Aviv and I’m delighted to hear about religious support for this event!

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