The Blog of the Jerusalem Open House

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Hello From The New intern!

Hey everyone, I’m Marty the new intern at the Jerusalem Open house.

I am here from NY on a 5 month internship program, and so far its been amazing. Everyone at the JOH has been really welcoming and there is a great sense of community within the LGBT circles in Jerusalem. The community here is small as say compared to Tel aviv, but there is a real sense of family that is unique to the Jerusalem lgbt scene. There is a great mix of people within the community ranging from religious to secular and everything in between, and its really refreshing.

While i am here i hope to help and work on as many projects as possible to help out the community. The first thing i am working on is restarting the “English Speakers Group” at the JOH, so feel free to join our Facebook group and page below for all the latest updates and events. I will also be updating this blog constantly with current events and topics from around Jerusalem.

I am looking forward to this great experience, and hopefully i will be able to contribute to this wonderful community!

Until Next Time,



English Speakers Group Links:

FB Group:

FB Page:




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MKs Debate at JOH

This month MKs from various political parties in Israel came to the JOH in preparation for the upcoming election.  They spoke to community members about a variety of issues.  Take a look at these articles about it from the Jerusalem Post!


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Jerusalem is Proud to Present…

Happy Hanukkah everyone! While Zach has been in the US for the past few weeks meeting with some American friends of the JOH, I have been working on several projects on my own. One has been reaching out to various US campus Hillels about viewing the movie “Jerusalem is Proud to Present.” This movie focuses on the work done by the JOH, specifically with the 2006 World Pride Festival. I think that this is a great opportunity for American students and campus community members to get an idea of the struggles an organization like JOH  faces as well as the community and support it provides for many in Jerusalem. Here is some information about the movie for anyone interested:

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Hello from the new intern!

Shalom! My name is Lucia and I am a new intern at the Jerusalem Open House. I am a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst majoring in Judaic Studies with a Middle Eastern Studies minor.  This fall I am at the Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School.

As an LGBT ally and advocate of Jewish pluralism, an internship at the JOH seemed like a great fit. I am working for Zach the Development Director and will be updating this blog with news about what’s happening at the JOH, in Jerusalem and within the wider LGBT community. 


Until next time!




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Ani lo medeberet ivrit!

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: )

 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.



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Haifa Pride

This past Friday, a few of us trekked over to Haifa to represent Open House in their annual Pride March. I wasn’t really sure what to expect – I had been to Tel Aviv Pride a few weeks back and while I knew this would be different, I was surprised at just how different the two were. The short of it was that Pride in Tel Aviv was a party and Pride in Haifa was a protest. Tel Aviv was about celebrating how far the LGBT community has come in the city and Haifa was about how much work still needs to be done.


And to be perfectly honest, I liked Haifa Pride much better than Tel Aviv’s. In many ways, it felt like a breath of fresh reality – the issues at hand were actually addressed instead of being glossed over for the sake of partying. This is not to say the event was somber, but rather, it was quite inspiring. The theme of the event, as many of the speakers brought up, was that Haifa should be a city for everyone. As such, this wasn’t only a struggle against homophobia, but against racism (one speaker specifically detailed the links between this and the racism that Ethiopian and Mizrachi Jews face in the city), sexism and any other oppression that plagued the city.


(thanks to Maiya for the picture!)

But what I found most inspiring was the feeling of solidarity going around. Although there were only a couple of hundred people here compared to Tel Aviv’s couple of thousands, the unity among the Marchers, some carrying Israeli flags, some representing Palestinian solidarity, some from LGBT Orthodox groups and a even a couple of Knesset members was really unlike anything I’ve seen before. Everyone was serious and passionate about making change and the energy was infectious – it really reminded me of why the work done here at Open House is so important. I left feeling much more uplifted than I did in Tel Aviv, even if this March was much more honest about the situation. After attending Haifa Pride, it definitely made me that much more excited to see this kind of action and solidarity and the upcoming Jerusalem Pride March. 



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The last three(ish) weeks in Israel have been filled with incredible opportunities. After seeing Israel for FREE through Shorashim Birthright, I have moved into my apartment with a lovely couple and the most adorable dog named Happy, already attended a PRIDE in Petach Tikva (as discussed in a previous post), gone to the LGBTQ bar Mikvah to enjoy Jerusalem’s very own Drag Queens (and now King!), and have immersed myself in my work at JOH (which will likely be development of information pamphlets along with working to plan Jerusalem Pride on August 2nd). However, one of the most incredible experiences I have had, thus far, is to attend the Israeli Presidential Conference (for free I might add). Thanks to my friend from Seattle, WA who is working with a group of youth interning at businesses around the Tel Aviv area, I was able to access an invite to the conference. In the opening ceremony, Shimon Peres honored Henry Kissinger with the Presidential Award for his work on establishing peace in the Middle East and his long-term dedication to Israel. Tony Blair followed Peres, discussing the importance of open-mindedness in Israel. Although from what I understand Tony Blair has never been one to make radical claims, his subtle call for tolerance serves as a strong message to the city of Jerusalem where everyone seems to be stuck in their particular ways/traditions/lifestyles. Open-mindedness is what, I believe, the JOH strives for. With a bit of understanding, conversation and acceptance of one another, I truly believe we can create better lives for the LGBTQ people of this community, and happier lives for those religious folks (or others) who spend so much of their time hating. On a bus ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last week, I had the most pleasant conversation with a woman studying to convert to Orthodox Judaism. However, when the subject of what I was doing in Israel came to the table, she told me of her religious friend who went to America to have his homosexual desires forced out of him. She said it was unsuccessful. I suggested that this was because he was gay, that was his identity. She said she felt sorry for anyone who accepted that as the truth. Our conversation went on and on until I finally changed the subject. According to her, the torah says what the torah says. I didn’t know how to argue with that. Our conversation hit a barrier because we could not breach this limited understanding of sexuality to reach a place of open-mindedness. Now, I think about how different our conversation could have been had we put the Torah aside and considered the reality of people and their desires. In Jerusalem, and specifically in religious communities, we are obviously not there yet. Was Blair right though? Maybe open-mindedness could be that first step to better integrating LGBTQ communities into the greater Jerusalem. 

Throughout my stay in Israel, I hope I can continue to talk to people who might find the idea of homosexuality uncomfortable. I hope I can plant a seed of respect for freedom of identity and do my part to discover the secrets of reaching open-mindedness, one step at a time.


PS: While I write this blog post, I am also being filmed for a TV segment about the Open House and PRIDE Jerusalem. HOW COOL IS MY JOB?!

PPS: Come join me and some members of the JOH at Pride this Friday in Haifa! It’s sure to be a blast.