Orthodox rabbis in Israel send letter of support to bullied transgender teen


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Dozens of Orthodox rabbis in Israel signed a letter offering support to a transgender girl who has been prevented from attending school over violence and threats to her life.

Osher Band, 15, remained home from her Ashkelon school since the beginning of the term, when she was attacked verbally and physically, Haaretz reported. Upon returning to the ORT Henry Ronson High School more than a week ago, she was attacked by a classmate and hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury.

Addressed to Osher and sent to the Education Ministry and the school principal, the letter reads: “We, Orthodox rabbis and rabbis’ wives, are shocked and pained to hear of the violence against you because of your identity as a transgender girl. This is not the way of the Jewish people. The Torah teaches us ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ and the ancient Jewish sages teach us that the Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred. We are commanded to respect every person, and moreover we are commanded to care for the ‘stranger, the orphan and the widow’ – that is, every man, woman, girl or boy who lives among us and is in a fragile social state, such as transgender people.”

The letter called Osher’s case “symbolic” and suggested that it would raise the cause of transgender students and how to integrate them.

The school told Haaretz that the teen’s behavior was “provocative” and that she had been posting “crude, flaunting pictures” on Instagram. The principal also said that Osher had not shown up regularly for school and when she did, she used “harsh, defiant language with the teachers and students.”

The Education Ministry told Haaretz that it investigated Osher’s case and determined that the school’s staff “made every effort to help the student and provide her with the required solutions.”

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