From l. volunteer Daled Dotan and Irit Zviely-Efrat, executive director of Hoshen.
MUNSTER—Once a platform for dialogue exists, barriers will begin to fall, says Irit Zviely-Efrat, executive director of Hoshen, the education center of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community in Israel.
Ms. Zviely-Efrat and Hoshen volunteer Daled Dotan visited Ann Arbor, Boston, Chicago, New York and Seattle in addition to their recent one-day stop in Northwest Indiana. While here they spoke at Purdue University Calumet Campus, Indiana University Northwest and The Jewish Federation of Northwest Indiana in Munster.
The two have been visiting high schools and universities where they talk about what is going on in Israel in the gay community as well as their own lives.
“Our issues are global issues,” she says.
“I share my story as a Hoshen volunteer,” Mr. Dotan says. “When you watch a YouTube video, you can’t knock on the screen and ask questions. We use the heart-to-heart conversation to make a change.”
He and Ms. Zviely-Efrat each offered their personal stories and allowed those attending to ask them questions and engage in dialogue.
His most moving experience during this trip to the U.S. was a meeting with New York youths. “Just hearing them speak and seeing their environment was moving to me,” he said.
Mr. Dotan and Ms. Zviely-Efrat also visited the Chicagoland Jewish High School and they acknowledged they are getting more requests from religious leaders. In fact, one female Haredi principal in Israeli invited Hoshen to speak at her school.
“She didn’t put any restrictions on our activity and no doubt, it was contradictory to her own beliefs. Sometimes there is a collaboration, not all educators know how to build a bridge, it was really unexpected,” Ms. Zviely-Efrat said.
Though they say they have encountered homophobia in their private lives and through their work with Hoshen, they are not discouraged. The organization has a close relationship with the Israeli Parliament.
“We help the ministry by showing another point of view,” Ms. Zviely-Efrat said.
The organization has created educational programs for high school students, kindergarten teachers and the Israeli Defense Forces. In addition, Hoshen is a member of the Alliance of Israeli LGBT Organizations which includes Israeli Gay Youth and Tehillah (a parents' support group).
Gaps and Barriers
In Use of Health Care Services
on LGB People in Israel
4,420 Particants completed the questionnaire; 2,618 or 59 percent were male and 45 percent were gay or bisexual; 1,802 or 41 percent women and 20 percent were lesbian or bisexual.