Orthodox gay group holds 1st Shabbat in J'lem
The group, Havruta, aims to provide forum that is comfortable for members of the gay religious community.
Pride flags being waved next to Israeli flags Photo: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters
Havruta, an association of religious homosexuals in Israel, held a communal
Shabbat event in Jerusalem for the first time this weekend.
organized a Friday night prayer service at the residence of one of the members,
followed by a number of separate Shabbat meals hosted by at various
Although the turnout was relatively small, with just 15 men
attending, the organizers expressed satisfaction with the initiative, stating it
was another step in helping gay religious people feel there are others similar
to them and that they are not alone.
The organization now intends to hold
a similar event once a month in the capital.
Havruta chairman Daniel
Jonas said that it was natural for different communities to coalesce around a
synagogue and organized community, which often act as a social hub as well, and
that this was one of the goals behind the new program.
He also emphasized
that the goal was not to distance themselves from the general religious
community, but to provide a regular forum for a Shabbat atmosphere that is more
comfortable for members of the gay religious community.
“It’s only once a
month, so we’re not cutting ourselves off and we’ll continue to go to our
regular synagogues and services as well,” Jonas told The Jerusalem
“We don’t think it is desirable to separate ourselves, but on the
other hand Shabbat services can also be sometimes uncomfortable when people come
up to you and ask you why you’re not married, or if they can introduce you to a
girl, and things like that.”
Jonas noted that about a third of the
attendees had not been to a Havruta event before, and some of them had not yet
acknowledged to friends and family that they were gay.
“It does require
courage to come to an event like this, but because it’s a smaller type of
function it makes it easier in some respects, and it is also why we held it at a
private residence, because it provides a more anonymous setting and a sense of
security too,” he explained.