Hello! Dog. The head of the government of Israel flies to America. Despite the two semesters of classes I took four years ago, that is about all of the Hebrew I know. And as much one would think that “I love books!” would come in handy during day-to-day conversations, it surprisingly does not. So when I found out that the Jerusalem Open House held a weekly English Speakers’ group on Monday nights, I made sure to show up.
During my first full work week, I stayed at the offices of JOH until 7.30 rolled around, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to spend a few hours actually understanding what was being said around me. That particular Monday was a board game night, the sort of event that is perfect for a self-proclaimed geek who has a large Settlers of Catan sticker plastered across her laptop. As I raced against my new friends during Dutch Blitz, a “vonderful goot game,” it felt like I had run into a little slice of home.
The next week, our group traveled from the Open House to a local café called Tmol Shilshom for a fabulous talk by Jay Michaelson. Jay (English Speaker himself!) is the author of a new book, “God vs Gay? The Religious Case for Equality.” Over a delicious plate of spinach ravioli in cream sauce, I listened as Jay explained his own personal journey towards coming out and how he, as a religious Jew, finds that the Scripture supports the acceptance of gay people. Through his reading of the holy texts, Jay finds that religious individuals should support equal rights for the LGBTQ community because of their religion, rather than in spite of it.
(You can find out more about “God vs Gay?” here. It’s an excellent book with a convincing argument and I recommend that anyone interested in gay rights checks it out: http://www.jaymichaelson.net/godvsgay/ )
And now, five weeks later from my first English Speakers’ meeting, I am sitting in the JOH once again on a Monday night with an amazing group of people who have a penchant for the Anglo tongue. This week, we are watching The Wizard of Oz and discussing what exactly makes Judy Garland a gay icon.
The Jerusalem Open House truly does offer something for every of person, regardless of age, religion, or language spoken. There are weekly meetings for queer and questioning teenagers. There is another group that brings together LGBTQ young adults. There is even a monthly “Geek Night” where people like me can get their fill of Apples to Apples, Monopoly, Risk, and other games! So if you ever find yourself in Jerusalem with a night free, just check out the calendar on our website. I bet you’ll find a group that seems like it was made just for you. I sure did.