(JTA) — A handful of haredi Orthodox men visited Tel Aviv’s Gay Center to express solidarity following the deadly stabbing at Jerusalem’s gay pride parade.
The delegation of haredim, 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, was 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 participant called Schlissel a lunatic whose actions are resented among haredi Jews.
The visitors, wearing black kippahs, met in a crowded room with rainbow flags with a transgender, a bisexual, and several lesbians and gay men. The visitors 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.
One of the 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 leading 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.