How should we engage with members of the LGTB community into our churches and synagogues? Rabbi Aviad Friedman chatted live with our Israel Today Members about how he got involved with Israel’s LGBT community, his surprising views on conversion therapy and more.
Check out the full recording below ↓
More than a Rabbi
For starters, Rabbi Friedman served as a personal advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He is formerly the director-general of Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry and served as senior advisor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.
Rabbi Friedman is also a businessman who invests in various technology start-ups and is active in these companies in various positions, including that of chairman, director and advisory council member. He served as deputy CEO of Maariv, one of Israel’s largest Hebrew-language daily newspapers.
Together with his wife Hanna, Rabbi Friedman co-founded B’yahad or “Together” – a liberal Orthodox community in Tel Aviv that welcomes all of God’s children, including members of the LGBT community.
Hannah: “Thinking about a variety of groups, like the LGBT community, was not strange to us. On a human level, I think when you learn to live with a special [autistic] child like we did, you realize that no one should be judged.”
Aviad: “We learned to be thankful for our child, and about life in what society sees as its margins. When you’re on the fringes of society you look at life differently.”
Rabbi Friedman’s work with children and youth goes back many decades as CEO of “Matnasim,” the unique Israel Association of Community Centers (IACC) that operates a nationwide network of 175 Community Centers and 700 branches, spread across 154 municipalities, from Metula in the north to Eilat in the south. The IACC serves millions of residents annually in the social and geographic periphery, in large cities, small villages, local and regional councils, all culturally adjusted to the diverse populations of Israeli society: Jewish, Arab, Bedouin, Druze, secular, ultra-Orthodox, new immigrants and veterans.
Rabbi Friedman and his wife Hanna are heavily involved in IDF pre-military preparatory programs.
Rabbi Friedman’s sister, Tehilah Friedman, is also an extraordinary public figure in Israel and a new member of Knesset. Read her moving maiden speech before the full parliament: We are the Third Temple and We Must Not Let it Burn | Israel Today