Israel Today hosted Prof. Rabbi Aviad Friedman for an exclusive chat with our Members last week during which the rabbi explained his outreach to the LGBT community in the Jewish state.
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.
Rabbi Friedman told us about the birth of his severely autistic son, the challenges they faced raising him, and how that experience opened their eyes.
“Before our son was born, we viewed ourselves as ‘normal’ Israelis,” he said. “It was only after dealing autism that we understood there is a lot of good to be found on the fringes of society.”
While the LGBT movement no longer seems to be on the fringes, it is still shunned by most in the religious community. “We believe that each person that God created has his or her own place in the world, and we must open our heart to everyone,” said this very special rabbi, noting that back when they started B’yahad “no religious organization was willing to engage the LGBT community. We decided to be the first. We opened our doors to everyone, regardless of background. Anyone could be a cantor, anyone could read from the Torah. And we will never ask with whom are you going home, and what are you doing there.”
What have been the consequences, for better or worse, of this approach? Is it in line with biblical principles?
For the answers to these and more questions, CLICK HERE to check out the full recording.