Category Archives: Microscope

I wanted a closer look inside the diversity of Israeli civil society. Specifically how people experience Israel from within. The Diplomatic Seminar provided me tools for understanding the political and national security challenges facing Israel. These posts describe my journey in Israel without the voice of the government guiding my way.

Top 10 LGBT Websites and Blogs

rosie says we can blog itmy new flatmate works in pr and marketing and already knows that i am a geek with social media stats. in his natural kindness he sent me this interesting list of the most popular LGBT websites and blogs. the list was compiled in june 2011 by a group called in partnership with a media database group called cision. they ranked the sites listed below by unique visitors per month (uvpm).

if you are also a social media geek or if you simply want to know where folks are going to get their lgbt related news and gossip take a look…

  1. 290,315 uvpm
  2. 203,924 uvpm
  3. Towleroad 200,477 uvpm
  4. Queerty 196,806 uvpm
  5. 145,255 uvpm
  6. The Bilerico Project 78,459 uvpm
  7. 77,342 uvpm
  8. 71,360 uvpm
  9. Outsports 68,573 uvpm
  10. 56,550 uvpm
if you’re looking for a blog on how to bake the perfect challah, how to properly observe a jewish holiday, like yom kippur which begins this evening, or how to how to date a homosexual femme jewess, i must confess, that i don’t have a top ten list of bloggers for you based on uvpm stats. i can highly recommend this leading transdenominational jewish website for the most comprehensive jewish information… tell me, friends, do you know where i can find reliable uvpm stats on jewish blogs?

Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Microscope


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the media cruised the crowd of 3,000 participants marching in jerusalem pride on thursday for drama and when they found none they looked to the folks watching along the perimeter of the parade for drama. the two groups of spectators that i saw along the 2.5km pride march route, who consisted of loads of media and about 30 teenage american tourists hovering the fence and cheering, did not seem to qualify as drama. folks i was with just seemed to laugh at the only potential drama which originated from the yeshiva we passed by that blasted animal noises from a speaker. i did see a group of 5 folks holding anti-gay signs but they even looked bored. so, sorry, media we are no longer dramatic. we are now just a bit colorful and way over protected with about one bored police officer to each participant.

whatever. there was plenty of political and behind the scenes drama leading up to the march. the drama included a protest of orthodox men in a nearby neighborhood, a fully decorated bomb-squad team showing up days before the march without a known bomb threat, a sketchy process of negotiations on the cost of security as well as the consistent threat of pulling all of our marching permits.

the behind the scenes dramas in my opinion originates not simply from the (ultra) orthodox jewish community but from the jerusalem municipality and local police who seem to publicly agree with the community rhetoric that pride should not happen in jerusalem. their rhetoric is so over-stated that after a month in israel i even roll my eyes when i hear it. so here is an example, just to catch you up, on the overly-stated usual conversation that i experience, “i am so in favor of gay people. i mean it is great to be gay, right. gay people can be everywhere in israel. we don’t discriminate at all in israel against gays. but {insert contemplative pause} why do you need to flaunt and cause such a scene in jerusalem? it is jerusalem. it is such a holy city. why can’t you just drive 45 minutes to tel aviv to have your gay pride there?”

obviously, if you are reading this on this blog, i am sure you can easily pick apart the statement above. it is filled with so many ill-conceived notions that your head can explode. instead of picking it apart, let’s just say, that statement is one of the reasons we march. our true equality is not yet understood. i often ask the person saying this statement, how do you suggest we as LGBT people live freely in this democracy if when and how, for example, we go to the grocery store with our same-sex partner and (because it is israel) two to three babies and not then be considered flaunting our sexual orientation?” for some reason this example seems to work here and folks seem to then agree that in order to be safe at the grocery store we need to be safe to be ourselves as a group in the streets… for a few fun visuals and because my camera is pretty low quality, here are a few photos taken by a two global lgbt activists:

yonatan gher leads his incredible staff and volunteer team into a group a hug jerusalem open house style before the march begins. they were the force that made this march happen. (Photo by Chad Meacham)

a young person holds a flag during the pre-march gathering at gan haatzmaut (independence park) (photo by sebastian scheiner)

folks chill out in independence park before the march begins (photo by sebastian scheiner)

look at the media chasing behind the one of two activists detained by israeli police officers (photo by sebastian scheiner)

a sweet couple kisses and a older fellow is caught behind the couple in the scene taking his own photo (photo by sebastian scheiner)

bored israeli police with their big guns (photo by chad meacham)

there were several protestors from the ultra-orthodox jewish community, who mostly made sheep noises. (photo by chad meacham)

folks march holding a huge flag (photo by sebastian scheiner)

ayala katz, mother of nir katz, z'l one of the victims of last year’s tel aviv bar-noa shooting, gave an emotional speech at the post march vigil about her hopes of ending homophobia. Ayala now heads an LGBT support organization for parents of the LGBT community in Tel Aviv (photo by chad meacham)

ultra-orthodox jews attend a prayer and protest against our gay pride parade, in the mea sharim neighborhood of jerusalem, before we march. executive director of jerusalem open house, yonatan gher has been quoted saying, "there is no religious monopoly on the holy city. the reason the march takes place in Jerusalem is not to upset anyone. we're here because we're jerusalemites & this is our city as much as anybody else's."

i had another incredible day in jerusualem meeting folks, seeing the sites and getting ready for pride. the day began at jerusalem open house by meeting with a new social justice hero, dr. ishai menuchin, the executive director of the public committee against torture in israel, over frozen yougart. and the day ended with one of the most interesting and tasty dining experiences in jerusalem with new friends idit klein the executive director of keshet and jordan namerow with american jewish world service at chef moshe basson’s  kosher eucalyptus restaurant inside the hutzot hayotzer artist colony. without a doubt, it was a day worth shooting photos of on my little green camera so please take a look at the my photos of the day by clicking here.


Posted by on July 31, 2010 in Israel, Microscope


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Leviticus 20:13 'If a man has sex with a man in same way as with a woman, they have committed an abomination. They are certainly to be put to death.'

Well, as my dear friend Jonathan has said in response to this statement illustrated above as inspired by Leviticus, “Why would a man have sex with a man in the same way as a woman? As a gay man I should have sex with a man in the way a man wants to have sex with a man {even as a man is or was or could be a woman…}.” One of the many feelings that I have experienced during this Israel journey are the intricate, enmeshed and contradictory levels of joy, sadness and complexity in civil society.

These contradictions have served as a road map into the ways I have been able to reconcile the intensity and love of life here. So today, I focus on the immediate need for equality in regards to sexual orientation and gender identity in Jerusalem and we march. In somewhat of a contrast, mostly in the levels of celebration and local community acceptance, to Pride in San Francisco, Madrid, Toronto or Tel Aviv we are marching for our equality in the hope that one day we will be marching here to celebrate with the larger community. Today I have pride, I have hope and I have love. I also have sneakers and I will be marching from Independence Park to the Knesset this afternoon.

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Posted by on July 29, 2010 in Israel, Microscope


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The Jewish Laws of Separation also called the Laws of Family Purity, Taharat Ha-Mishpachah, as interpreted from Leviticus 15:19 -24, are taken very seriously here in Israel. I don’t participate in these laws personally as a single non-observant woman yet I am reminded of them as I sleep in them every night.

Essentially, these family purity laws apply to a married woman as she enters the halachic status of niddah. This is mostly when she experiences menstruation or post-childbirth. While a married woman is niddah, couples are not permitted any physical contact. Any contact including touching hands while walking down the street… In order to prevent marital relations from inadvertently taking place at the time that a woman is niddah, couples observe times of separation vestot or onot perishah.

Tohorat Ha-mishpacha today instructs beds in Israel hotels to have the options to be together or separate. Hence the reason that all hotel beds in Israel are twin beds with the option to be together or for separation. The photo above is a photo of one of the typical hotel rooms I have been staying in.

A married woman remains in niddah, prohibiting intimacy with her partner, until she has removed all barriers that could come between her body, g*d, men and most specifically, water. These spiritual and physical barriers, chatzitzot, are removed and then she immerses herself in the mikveh. Once a woman has immersed herself in the mikveh she is no longer niddah and is now tehorah ready to touch and be touched again


Posted by on July 29, 2010 in Israel, Microscope


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i fell in love with anne the moment she sat down next to me at the organic diner and smoked cigarettes for an hour with her cappuccino and feisty energy.

anne (pictured to the right) is a holocaust survivor. she was also was once a little girl on a ship that symbolizes for so many the struggle for unrestricted jewish immigration into palestine. i had the opportunity to hear her story, which includes being aboard the exodus in 1947, when she sat across from me on the patio of the organic cafe in the scorching heat of july in tel aviv wearing heals, tight black pants and a long sleeve black shirt.

within a few seconds of anne sitting down a cappuccino was placed in front of her and a lit cigarette was in her hand. her confidence and contradictory character in this overtly health seeking place was refreshing to me and we began to chat.

The Exodus 1947 in Haifa

This photo is of the Exodus boat 63 years ago on July 20, 1947 before being deported back to Europe from Haifa, Palestine.

anne is one of the estimated 250,000 holocaust survivors currently living in israel (250,000 by the way is about half the number of survivors who arrived in the country since 1947). her exodus experience with her mother and father shaped her life as she tells it now as a woman who never married, never wanted children and simply wanted to tell me about her life now as a retired nurse in tel aviv.

anne responded to my usual question i ask most folks here, which is, “what is zionism?” by telling me to go to jerusalem and look it up myself. at another time she asked me, “why can’t you tell me? you are here in israel, don’t you already know what zionism is?

the conversation between us lasted about an hour but it was one of the most remarkable moments at a cafe i have ever had in tel aviv… watch an excerpt from our conversation below or click here to see a few photos of the day including my visit to the Tel Aviv LGBT Community Center 

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Posted by on July 28, 2010 in Israel, Microscope


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another amazing morning

Sure, we work here on Sunday morning but really, look at this Sunday morning breakfast! Fresh vegetables, a smooth latte, smoked salmon, a simple omelet, avocado and whole grain breads. No wonder folks here are gorgeous: this is just what they serve for a Tel Aviv breakfast! The rest of the day is filled with fresh fruits, yogurt, fish, eggplant, hummus, breads and even more salads.... I half expect to come home to San Francisco and begin preparing each of my meals like this but sadly, the cost of organic, locally grown, fresh veggies and fruits are a bit more costly back home...

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Posted by on July 25, 2010 in Israel, Microscope


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salt flower

I am not much of a shopper (actually, I really love shopping – I just don’t have much time on this trip to shop for gifts). Yet, as I was walking from Jerusalem Open House today to my room at Beit Shmuel before meeting up with with a colleague from San Francisco and two of my local hero’s Noa Sattah and Yonatan Gher-Leibowitz, I think I found something to bring home!

After six years of growth this salt flower made it from a wire set in the Dead Sea collecting minerals into my backpack for the gift that I hope is perfect for a woman in my life with what I believe is extraordinarily sophisticated taste. She says she has already owned everything that she would ever want or need… (She is also not a fan of t-shirts that say, “my daughter went to Israel and all I got was this lousy shirt and some silver plated Judaica from the airport…”). So my few followers of this blog, what do you think? Will my mama’le like this gift to put near her bathtub to help cleanse the air? What do you think? Will she like it?

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Posted by on July 20, 2010 in Israel, Microscope


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