We are told to love countless times in the Torah, and at the Tel Aviv Pride Parade thousands joined together to celebrate and to advocate for marriage equality. In touching speeches, posters, chants, and actions, the people at Tel Aviv’s Pride Parade said that love is love, and that LGBT couples should have the same rights for legal recognition of their families.
The parade showcased the diversity that Israel should be proud of. Some wore skirts and long sleeve shirts, some had head coverings or yarmulkes, some wore bikini tops and bottoms, and some dressed as fairies, gladiators, and Greek gods, but all were there to sing, smile, and celebrate freedom of love.
A part of the parade that was not to be missed was a double-decker bus with people dancing on top, inside, and on the sides. The bus was sponsored by NIF grantee Havruta - Religious Homosexuals in Israel. Havruta is the largest organization for religious gays in Israel. The organization emphasizes the Jewish ideal of acceptance, tolerance, and promoting a more equal society for everyone who calls Israel home. Havruta believes in love and freedom, and that everyone deserves a combination of both.
Havruta is only one of the many Israeli LGBT organizations that have received guidance from SHATIL and support from the New Israel Fund. Bat Kol, an organization for religious lesbians, emphasizes a similar message by supporting tolerance among the religious community. The Israeli Gay Youth Organization allows for LGBT Israelis to find a support network. Aswat: Palestinian Gay Women was formed to empower and promote the rights of Arab lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual, transgender, and intersex women who live in Israel and the territories. Aswat provides a safe environment for these women and strengthens their voice in Arab and Palestinian society. All of these groups have an important message promoting tolerance, equality, and love.
The energy of the parade was powerful and uplifting. After speeches and chants, the entire crowd walked together through the streets of Tel Aviv under colorful flags, cheered on by spectators. There were floats and performances, and finally, at the end of a long stretch of walking, the participants found themselves on an enclosed grassy space next to the sea with food, drinks, memorabilia, and live music. The togetherness and unity celebrated at the parade highlights the best of what Israel's democracy has to offer.