Jerusalem’s LGBT community celebrates Purim

The event was organized by the LGBTQ Student Association, Women’s Gathering, Havruta, Bat Kol, Jerusalem Open House, Maavarim, Hoshen and Yerushalmiot.

March 25, 2016 00:50
2 minute read.

Store sells costumes for Purim. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Members of Jerusalem’s LGBT community held daylong Purim festivities called Puriya b’Tachana at the First Station on Thursday, in what organizers say was the first family event arranged by the city’s LGBT groups.

It was promoted as an “LGBTQ-friendly Purim celebration for the whole family.”

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It included arts and crafts projects for children and parents; a stall of rainbow-themed items; drawing and coloring-in LGBT family illustrations; children’s book readings; a lecture in feminist readings of Megilat Esther; a megila reading; and later in the evening a Purim party.

The event was organized by the LGBTQ Student Association, Women’s Gathering, Havruta, Bat Kol, Jerusalem Open House, Maavarim, Hoshen and Yerushalmiot, and supported by the Ginot Hair Community Council.

Sarah Weil, executive director of the Women’s Gathering community of LGBTQ women, said that the idea for the event arose from the stabbing attack at last summer’s Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem by an extremist haredi man who murdered 16-year-old Shira Banki and wounded several others.

Weil said the attack had shocked the LGBT community, and made them realize that the parade was the only event when they had any visibility in Jerusalem.

“That one time is not enough,” said Weil. “We need visibility throughout the year, we need to come out of our houses and closets and be in the public sphere.

“This is our response to stabbing and murder of Shira Banki. We’re going out into the city, we’re not closing ourselves in, we’re not leaving, we’re not cowering in fear, we are trying to really promote the values of tolerance, pluralism, respecting the other and inclusiveness.”

Weil said that Purim had been chosen specifically because there are several holiday themes that are pertinent to the gay and trans community.

“Purim is an event which brings people together, symbolizes the concept of ve’nahafoch hu [things turned on their head], ad deloyada [not being able to distinguish between opposite notions], the idea of gender fluidity and transforming our understanding of things and putting them into a different perspective. These are all themes that connected to LGBTQ experience and identity,” she explained.”

“We’re not here protesting, we’re not here promoting any specific agenda, we’re here as a community, saying we want to be involved in the larger community, we want to be accepted as we are, so the activities we have for kids, the message is inclusiveness and that’s a message that speaks to everyone.”

Crowds were not large at the event in the middle of the day, which was attended by close to a hundred people, including individuals, children and families, who turned out to participate in the various activities.

Due to security concerns for the LGBT community, the police insisted that three extra police officers be present, although the organizers were required by the police to pay themselves for the increased personnel.

Noa Sattath, a Reform rabbi attending the event with her partner and three children, said the happening was a “fabulous celebration of diversity and pluralism” and a meaningful experience for her family.

“It’s a rare opportunity for us as a family to see ourselves reflected in an event in such a way,” she said.

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