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Israeli Religious Council Appoints a Lesbian as a Member


The outside of the Tel Aviv Municipality is lit up to resemble the LGBT Pride flag.
(photo credit: COURTESY OF TEL AVIV-YAFO MUNICIPALITY)

Sperber intends to close the gap between religious and LGBT identities, and help LGBT people who, regardless of their level of observance, are still Jewish and have religious needs. 

A religious lesbian woman is set to be appointed to Tel Aviv's religious council next week, marking the first time that a lesbian has sat on the council, Yedidot Ahronot reported
Abigail Sperber, 47, a mother of two and founder of the LGBT religious women's organization Bat Kol, is expected to be appointed next week to Tel Aviv's religious council pending a vote at a meeting set for Monday.
The religious council is responsible on behalf of the municipality for providing religious services, such as marriage, overseeing the kosher food industry, mikvas, Shabbat, synagogues, Jewish cultural events and more. 
By being appointed, Sperber intends to close the gap between religious and LGBT identities, and help LGBT people who, regardless of their level of observance, are still Jewish and have religious needs.
"I would love to be there and I believe that they approached me because I am religious and feel the need to represent the religious needs of LGBT people. I'm sure that even in the religious council, they will understand that LGBT people also have religious needs and are not against the religious, but rather the opposite," she told Yedidot Ahronot
She added that by closing the gap, she also hopes to be there for LGBT people who may not be particularly observant but still have religious needs as well, such as "converting children born in surrogacy or adoption abroad."
In 2005, Sperber founded the Bat Kol LGBT organization for religious women, with the goal of enabling lesbian women to maintain their religious identity. She is also the daughter of Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber, winner of the Israel Prize for Talmudic Studies and a well-known figure in religious Zionism, who recently stated that he opposes conversion therapiesbecause they are ineffective and cause harm, according to Yedidot Ahronot.
When Sperber told her family about her upcoming appointment, they reminded her that her grandfather was a member of the Council of Torah Scholars. "Everything is connected and I continue on the path that he created," she said.
City Council member Itai Pinkas-Arad (Meretz) is responsible for bringing forth Sperber's name to the council.
"The religious LGBT community is an integral part of the religious community. There are thousands of religious people who are also LGBT people – and religious services are also meant for them," said Pinkas-Arad.
"Abigail is part of the Orthodox community in Israel and her joining the council is very exciting for us. The religious LGBT community has a voice and is an integral part of the religious community. I am sure she will have a positive effect on religious services in Tel Aviv, regardless of the LGBT issue," he added.


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