Haredi grassroots group pays solidarity visit to Tel Aviv gay center

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A handful of Haredi men visited Tel Aviv’s Gay Center to express solidarity following the deadly stabbing last week at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade.

The delegation of Haredim, or fervently Orthodox Jews, who came together and organized the visit as part of a grassroots initiative, arrived at the center at Gan Meir on Wednesday, Haaretz reported Friday.

“I belong to a minority group that suffers from exclusion and [the majority’s] ignorance, just like the gay community,” one of the Haredi visitors, who were not named, is quoted as saying. The delegation rejected the acts of Yishai Schlissel, the Haredi man who on July 30 inflicted fatal wounds on Shira Banki, 16, and wounded five others. One participants called him a lunatic whose actions are resented among Haredis.

The visitors, wearing black kippahs, met in a crowded room with rainbow flags with a transgender, a bisexual, several lesbians and gays. They said they do not belong to the Haredi mainstream, explaining they are in daily contact in their work with Jews from various segments of Israeli society.

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One of the Haredi visitors said he had a gay brother and that his parents did not know about that brother’s sexual orientation.

“This meeting is necessary and important,” one ;eading activist of the gay community, who was not named, told Haaretz. “It was that before the events of last week, and more so thereafter.”

The stabbing, which occurred one day before a Palestinian baby was burned to death in a suspected hate crime attributed to Jewish extremists, drew widespread condemnations from Israel’s political establishment and civil society, as well as from Jewish diaspora leaders, including Orthodox rabbis.

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