Ohel Avraham creates opportunities for people who want to reclaim their Judaism. In Israel, the dominant Jewish voice has dehumanized LGBTQ members of society for far too long, turning many people away from religion. Ohel Avraham, the leading Reform Congregation in Haifa, has been, for many years, a home for LGBTQ members.
Attempting to forge a new path, Ohel Avraham and Beit Hakehilot Le’Ga’ava Ve’sovlanut, or The Communities’ House for Pride and Tolerance, have collaborated on Ohel Avraham’s tradition of hosting a pride Kabbalat Shabbat service. In addition, they created learning content for LGBTQ Jews, and wrote Tefilat Haderech (traveler’s prayer) for the Gay Pride parade in Haifa. For Pride Shabbat, volunteers from the Communities’ House, together with Ohel Avraham’s Rabbis, built the content and added relevant reading parts. A transgender woman gave the drash with her wife and two people used the service as an intentional space to come out. Together, Ohel Avraham and The Communities’ House have made Judaism accessible and meaningful for a diverse group of people in Haifa.
Ohel Avraham has the pleasure of collaborating The Communities’ House and having another liberal partner in the city. When creating a name, The Communities’ House specifically chose the plural of the word “community” to highlight that a variety of communities fall under the label of LGBT. Furthermore, within each sub-community (ex. the lesbian community), there are a variety of identities and ways of relating to sexuality. The logo’s flag bears more than six colors to represent this beautiful diversity. Though open for only a few months, The Communities’ House is already filling an important gap in the community. Arnon, the director, shared that their facility should not only be a safe space but also a lighthouse, a “living”, welcoming part of Haifa.
Ohel Avraham looks forward to continuing to work with this organization as they grow, creating opportunities for people of all backgrounds to engage with their Judaism in a open and welcoming way.
Written by Talia Kaplan