On August 2, Lynn was the keynote speaker at the 10th Annual March for Pride and Tolerance in Jerusalem. This article, adapted from her remarks to the 5,000 people in attendance, first appeared on the Times of Israel.
Last week, I joined nearly 5,000 people from across Israel and around the world to participate in Jerusalem’s 10th Annual March for Pride and Tolerance. In the decade since Jerusalem Open House initiated the march, it has grown into the city’s largest human rights demonstration, bringing out a sea of diverse and passionate faces from across the age, race, religious, political, gender and sexual spectrum.
Each face tells a different story of a moment when we, or a loved one, learned firsthand what it felt like to be excluded, bullied or far worse—not for what we had done but simply for who we were. Each story reminds us of the urgent need to take a stand against hatred and intolerance.
And so, together we marched, from Independence Park to Liberty Bell Park, past the Great Synagogue, on the eve of Tu B’Av—the Jewish Valentine’s Day.
Our return to the march’s original route—where, in 2002, several demonstrators were attacked and seriously injured—signified that our call for love, tolerance and equality could not be silenced. We had come to pray with our feet, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said when he marched arm-in-arm with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We had come to reclaim Jerusalem as a modern, open, vibrant capital belonging to us all—and, in the words of Dr. King, to insist on the “fierce urgency of now.”
As someone who devotes much time and philanthropy to strengthening Jerusalem, I can feel the change that is starting to happen in hubs and pockets around the city, with a new generation leading the charge. Indeed, a fertile arts and culture scene, supported by world-renowned institutions and organizations like the Israel Museum and the Jerusalem Season of Culture, is exposing people to a different side of Jerusalem. The city is literally abuzz with activity, and everywhere you go, people speak with renewed optimism and pride in Jerusalem that was unimaginable just a few years ago.
What’s more, the young people of this city are taking an active role in promoting and advancing equality and dialogue between all sectors of Israeli and Jewish society. Some of them I know well as members of the ROI Community or as part of the Schusterman Foundation-Israel’s broader efforts to revitalize Jerusalem. They tell me that they and their peers are no longer willing to allow a vocal and intolerant minority to speak on their behalf. Among them are Jerusalem Open House’s Elinor Sidi, Bat Kol’s Talya Lev, Mikveh Bar owner Eyal Levit and activist Margot Madeson-Stern, who have become leaders in the LGBTQ community.
And yet …