Tag Archives: Israel

where is harel skaat staying when he visits san francisco?

After overhearing the music of Harel Skaat flooding through my office wall all afternoon my colleague in the office next door poked his head into my office to tell me, “his music is great…” I smiled and asked if he would join me at his concert in Palo Alto (details) but before he responded he paused giving me a rare and almost-shy-smile. He then quickly asked, “do you know if he or his boyfriend need a nice place to stay in the Castro while they are in town? I have a place in the Castro…”

So of course, I wanted to see why such a fine gentleman would be so courteous to offer up his home to a couple of strangers. That is when I learned that the boyfriend of Harel Skaat is the Israeli model, Idan Roll. I stopped wondering and just responded with a smirk….

Idan Roll and Harel Skaat

I don’t know where Idan and Harel are staying (or if they are coming to the Bay Area together) but I do know that all before the age of 30, Harel Skaat has become one of the leading and most sought-after male-vocalists in Israel. His Yemenite and Iraqi Jewish roots formed his distinctive sound within a particular genre of pop music and his work in the music industry has received all possible Israeli accolades. He has also received attention in the New York Times (story) not only for his musical talents but his attention to fashion too. Sadly, Harel’s visit to the Bay will be short this time with limited performances but you can keep track of the whereabouts of this gay israeli musical icon on his website (link).

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Posted by on August 22, 2011 in Jewish Bay Area


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be here or there or there rain or shine

Gertrude Stein with friends circa 1934. Photograph from the Yale Collection of American Literature Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

I doubt that Gertrude Stein was thinking about Shabbat when she wrote, “generally speaking, everyone is more interesting doing nothing than doing anything,” but I might be wrong. Tomorrow at SFMOMA I will take a bit of time to think about that possibility while participating in a replication of the queer literary salons that Gertrude and her family once hosted in the 1920’s in their Paris apartment (details). Rain or shine there will be more of something on Sunday at Israel in the Gardens (details) with music, dancing, art, and general fabulous people watching. find me i will be signing folks up to participate in the AIDS Walk (details) before heading off to my “hip pop hapa japa” besties wedding at the Fairmont that night.

What a weekend and it is only the first of many during San Francisco’s Pride month! Shabbat Shalom, friends. Take a look at the myriad of ways you and yours can participate Jewishly in the many of the fabulous festivities of Pride (details).


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Dana International of Israel helps out Eurovision

Thirteen years after winning the Eurovision Song Contest with Diva in 1998 Dana International was back again representing Israel with her self composed entry Ding Dong as she attempted to win the title again. Dana’s victory in the 1998 contest had a strong impression on the world, and she became a cultural icon. In Israel (which has participated in Eurovision almost every year since 1973), on the night of the 1998 victory, thousands of people celebrated on the streets, and Dana has been a star ever since.

When I travel or speak with Israeli people and describe what I do for a living her name will come up within three minutes. It is like clock-work. I say something about Trans rights in English. The person I am speaking with asks what that means. Someone who is also Israeli and standing near us or involved in the conversation interjects and simply says, “Dana, you know Dana International.”   Dana International has become synonymous with not only the rights of Trans people but the full LGBT spectrum of identities. It is amazing.

Although she was sadly voted out of Eurovison Thursday night the history of this extraordinary woman has helped change the understanding of LGBT civil rights not only in Israel but also across the globe. Take a look at this BBC video talking about her impact on our world:

Dana International of Israel performs her song 'Ding Dong' during a rehearsal for the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest in Dusseldorf May 11, 2011. Photograph by: Ina Fassbender, REUTERS

Dana International of Israel performs her song 'Ding Dong' during a rehearsal for the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest in Dusseldorf May 11, 2011. Photograph by: Ina Fassbender, REUTERS

I hope that you will be able to join me at our Federations’ LGBT Alliance booth celebrating Dana International and her contributions to our global community at Israel in the Gardens this June 5 in San Francisco.

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Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Israel


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honoring a star


We get a lot of interesting questions as LGBT identified Jewish leaders. One of the most common questions is how did the San Francisco Bay Area become one of the leading communities for LGBT inclusion? We have long answers and short answers but they both involve one key Gay Jewish leader: Al Baum.

Al is a tireless fighter for LGBT civil rights and a lifetime leader in both Jewish and civic communities. Out of love, respect and appreciation for all that he has accomplished, he is being awarded The Rita Semel Jewish-Civic Leadership Award for his extraordinary contributions by our partner, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). We hope that you can join us at the JCRC Gala on February 16 honoring so many of Al’s accomplishments in our community.

While our community is filled to the brim with opportunities to see Bay Area LGBT Jewish leaders in action. From speaking on panels with Israeli LGBT Teens and making philanthropic calls to celebrating their wordssocial satireactivismmusic, and scholarship, it is still rare when we as a community can gather all together to honor one of our brightest shining stars.

See you OUT in the community,

Arthur Slepian, Chair

Lisa Finkelstein, Director

P.S. If you would like to help honor Al but are unable to attend, please get in touch with us and we will be happy to pass on your wishes to Al. Here is a link to provide an honor or memorial gift to the Federation.

Al Baum with friends out in the San Francisco Jewish community.

Upcoming Events

Queer Jewish Religiosity in America - Registration Queer Jewish Religiosity in America
Stanford University/Sha’ar Zahav
Feb 25 – Feb 27

Engage in conversations about queer Judaism, its creativeness with collective Jewish textual forms, and what happens to both in the process…or just meet a few new LGBT identified friends at the oneg.
Be a part of Federation's annual fund-raising day.
Mar 13 10:00am – 7:00pm
From dial to push button and now cell phones, over the years our tools have changed, but our values remain the same.
See Bay Area LGBT leader Sasha T. Goldberg on the panel at the 4th Annual Inside the Activists Studio!
Feb 27 10:30am –  4:30pm
Get energized by local Jewish change-makers and celebrate the multitude of ways we are working to create a more just world!
This is an incredible celebration of amazing art work. Don't miss it! Celebration of The Robert Giard Art Exhibition
Feb 09 7:30pm – 9:00pm
Particular Voices: Portraits of Jewish Gay and Lesbian Writers featuring poets Teya Schafferm & Elana Dykewomon.
Barbara Coloroso talks about the end of bullying Just Because It’s Not Wrong Doesn’t Make It Right
Feb 09 7:00pm – 9:00pm

From toddlers to teens, teaching children to think and act ethically with author expert Barbara Coloroso.

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The pain of concealing one’s identity is something that we understand as out LGBT identified Jews. We are grateful for the privilege of being out and open in our communities, but in so many places the struggle to be our full complete selves continues.

This past weekend at the San Francisco Queer Shabbaton, Lisa Finkelstein had the opportunity to attend as well as faciliate a discussion on the how the intersection of intimacy and boundries can build a diverse Jewish community. The previous weekend Arthur had the opportunity to attend an East Coast Orthodox-based Shabbaton with 140 other LGBT Jews. Many of the participants said to Arthur with great emotion that they had dreamed all their lives of a community where they could be their authentic LGBT Jewish selves. As each community event, party, concert, discussion or fundraiser presents opportunities to connect all of our LGBT Jewish lives together we hope that you will too choose to join us out in the community.  


From the expansion of visitation rights at hospitals, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and now the unbarred travel to the U.S. for people living with HIV/AIDS, our community has cause for celebration, yet there is much more work ahead. See our upcoming events and read an elaboration on these topics written by our newest Federation team member, Max Kopeikin.


Arthur Slepian, Chair & Lisa Finkelstein, Director of the LGBT Alliance of the Jewish Community Federation co-wrote this piece in hopes to seeing all of our readers OUT in the community


Congregation Sha’ar Zahav and Stanford Hillel
Feb 25, 26 & 27   

The Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford hosts a weekend of Shabbat connections, Discussion & Learning
Power of One
Feb 07 5:00pm – Feb 07 8:30pm
 A celebration of Jewish women & men who inspire each & every one of us to make a difference.
Israeli Photographer Adi Nes
JCCSF – Feb 01 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Hillel at Stanford – Feb 02 12:30pm – 2:00pm 

Palo Alto JCC – Feb 02 7:30pm – 9:30pm

Internationally acclaimed Israeli artist about his Israeli homo-erotic soldiers’ Last Supper, homeless Bible Stories and much more 

Celebration of The Robert Giard Exhibibition
Feb 09 7:30pm – 9:00pm

Particular Voices: Portraits of Jewish Gay and Lesbian Writers featuring poets Teya Schafferm & Elana Dykewomon
Just Because It’s Not Wrong Doesn’t Make It Right
Feb 09 7:00pm – 9:00pm

From toddlers to teens, teaching children to think and act ethically with author expert Barbara Coloroso


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Posted by on January 31, 2011 in LGBT Alliance


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i am thrilled to write that i have a new colleague at federation who wants to help build san francisco bay area lgbt jewish community with me!

maxwell kopeikin wandered into my office as a federation volunteer a few months ago and helped ensure that our jonathan adler gay hanukkah party was a fabulous success. today he divides his time at federation on contract with dr. donny inbar who brings the bay area israeli arts and culture and irin kutman levy who helps organize the bay area russian-speaking jewish community in partnership with the jewish agency for israel.

a california native maxwell is a recent graduate from the university of california at berkeley. and now in addition to volunteering at counter pulse and being a professional modern dancer and choreographer he is focused on learning to speak english with a fierce israeli accent. he promised to write a post soon on this blog – so be ready. this spanish, yiddish, french, catalonian speaking gay jewish alpha epsilon pi (aepi) fraternity brother has a lot to say.


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jewish call to honor world aids day

despite much education over many decades, there is still often prejudice and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, both in our community and around the world. no matter who or where you are, your actions can make a real difference in stopping the spread of HIV and ending HIV/AIDS prejudice locally as well as globally. as our jewish communities light the first flames of hanukkah at multiple gatherings this evening in the san francisco bay area and around the world we are also called to honor world AIDS day. i hope that you are able to join us in the ways that you are able. read more.

Do what you can... be creative in supporting World AIDS Day.

Learn about HIV/AIDS in Israel.

Gay Jewish artist Jonathan Adler launches his Starbucks Red Card in time for World AIDS Day

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Posted by on December 1, 2010 in Israel, LGBT Alliance


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