(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The religious Jewish LGBT community invited anti-LGBT public figures Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira and MK Betzalel Smotrich to join them at events commemorating "Pesach Sheni," which in modern Israel is seen by some as the day of religious tolerance.
Levenstein, Lior, Shapira and Smotrich have all been known to be disparaging of the LGBT community.
Levenstein of the Bnei David pre-military academy in Eli has made multiple anti-LGBT statements. He has given a speech saying "homosexuals are perverts"
and in 2016 he stated that homosexuality should be "eliminated."
Lior is also known for anti-LGBT stances, including backing a protest by Lehava
against the Jerusalem Pride Parade in 2016, calling the parade an "abomination."
Shapira, dean of the Ramat Gan hesder yeshiva, said that LGBT culture is "a spreading sickness" in 2018, according to Ynet.
Smotrich has been known to make disparaging remarks about the LGBT community
, including when he brought livestock to a protest against the Jerusalem Pride Parade in 2006. He has expressed regret for some of the things he has said and done.
The invitation was posted on the Facebook page for Pesach Sheni with a video in which various members of the religious LGBT community discuss their background, including the schools they learnt in and the relationships and families they have forged since then.
"I see that the subject of LGBT people, meaning us, continues to keep you busy in Eli," said Jonathan Rossen Maman in the video. Maman is a member of Havruta, an organization of religious Jewish homosexual men. He also is a counselor of the religious LGBT group in Gush Etzion. "Rabbi Yigal, maybe instead of talking about us, come to talk with us instead?"
"I grew up with discussion. This is the way of Judaism," said Naama Arnon in the video. Arnon is a member of Bat Kol, an organization of religious Jewish lesbian women. "This is the way of religious Zionism. Come and talk with us."
On Pesach Sheni (in English the Second Passover) events take place throughout the country encouraging tolerance in the religious Jewish community. Many of the events are organized by the religious LGBT community.
The Pesach Sheni initiative began from a belief that tolerance and how we relate to each other is a religious issue and that there is a need to develop a religious discussion on the subject and deal with it from a Jewish point of view.
Pesach Sheni "reflects the ability of Jewish law to include minorities and find specialized solutions for the 'other' among us," according to the webpage for the Pesach Sheni events this year. It is also an example a process in which the religious leadership is "attentive to the various voices that arise from the people and provides them with a solution in accordance with their unique needs."
The events for Pesach Sheni will take place from May 15 to May 30 throughout the country. This is the 10th year that these events have taken place.
The main event is the "Celebration of Tolerance" which will take place on Thursday, May 23 in Jerusalem. The event will include inspirational speeches, spoken word poetry, stories for children, and dancing. Entry is free.Jeremy Sharon and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.
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