In first, Tel Aviv religious council offers funds to Orthodox LGBTQ women’s group

Bat Kol says it requested grant of thousands of shekels for program geared toward drawing queer community into Jewish life; council head says funds open to all that fit criteria

Participants at the annual Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, on June 10, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Illustrative: Participants at the annual Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, on June 10, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Tel Aviv’s local religious council has provided a grant of thousands of shekels to support a program by Bat Kol, an LGBTQ rights group for religious women.

Haaretz reported that it marked the first time a religious authority in Israel has provided funding for an LGBTQ organization.

Bat Kol said it responded to a call by the council, which offered to fund programs that aimed at “contributing to Torah enrichment in community life.”

In a post on its social media account, the group promised to reveal details of the project in the near future. It did not detail exactly how much money it had received.

“We saw that we met all the requirements, and submitted a lovely project that will provide a solution for the queer community around Jewish communal life, and the initiative was accepted,” Ayala Reifler, a board member of Bat Kol, told Haaretz.

“More than the money, there is an important statement here in our view, of partnership and recognition of our activities in the city. It’s very moving. We are moved to be making history. We will be happy to continue this type of program across Israel,” she added.

Rabbi Eldad Mizrachi, head of the Tel Aviv Religious Council, said that the funds were not directed at a specific type of group, but to any organization that met the requirements “and offered a Torah educational program that operates in an orthodox synagogue.”

Bat Kol formed as a group for religious lesbians in 2005, through the Open House for Pride and Tolerance. Avigail Sperber, who founded the group, was appointed as a member of the Tel Aviv Religious Council in 2020, the first time a religious lesbian woman became part of any religious council in Israel.

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