South Florida cinephiles can experience contemporary LGBT life in Israel at a weekly film festival hosted by Congregation Etz Chaim at the Pride Center in Wilton Manors.
The South Florida Israeli-Jewish-LGBTQA+ Film Festival kicked off on Feb. 16 and will continue for four more weeks.
According to congregation president and series programmer David Yalen, one of the goals of the festival is to offer a more accurate portrayal of Israel and its LGBT community.
“We hope the audience will learn that Israel as a country and its LGBT community, in particular, are not what the news shows or other films portray them,” he said. “While the country is ‘officially’ religiously conservative, it has a very strong culture of social justice, humanity, equality between women and men, and was offering parity in its armed forces between straight and gay soldiers long before the United States.”
Three of the remaining films present insights into distinct segments of Israel’s LGBT community, including the deaf and hard-of-hearing, transgender people and seniors. The fourth film is the only one in English and deals specifically with the history of the ancient community of Jews in Baghdad, Iraq who were expelled to Israel after 1948.
Yalen noted that Congregation Etz Chaim has been the only LGBT synagogue in South Florida for more than 45 years. The congregation worships at the Pride Center on Friday evenings and conducts holiday, community and social/educational programs throughout the year.
This series follows a much smaller film festival presented in partnership with the Stonewall National Museum and Archives last year and, based on advance ticket sales and word of mouth, he expects the festival to continue to grow.
Congregation Etz Chaim’s South Florida Israeli-Jewish-LGBTQA+ Film Festival continues weekly on Sunday afternoons through March 15 at the Pride Center, 2038 N. Dixie Hwy. in Wilton Manors. Tickets for individual screenings are $11 at EtzChaimFlorida.org.