A&E: Film Festival Focuses on Israeli LGBT Life

An Israeli family must respond when their father comes out as transgender in “Family in Transition,” screening as part of the South Florida Israeli-Jewish-LGBTQA+ Film Festival. Credit: Go 2 Films.

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 Israels 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.

The Sign for Love,” 2017, Hebrew with English subtitles, 75 mins.

Feb. 23, 4:45 p.m.

This moving documentary is the first-person account of the life a deaf man, Elad Cohen, created for himself, and his attempt to show viewers his version of family and parenthood.


Family in Transition,” 2018, Hebrew with English subtitles, 70 mins.

March 1, 4:45 p.m.

This is story of a family in Nahariya, a small traditional town in Israel, whose lives change completely after their father finally decides to reveal to them that he's a transgender woman.


Remember Baghdad,” 2017, English, 70 mins.

March 8, 2:30 p.m. 

This British documentary outlines an untold history of Iraq, told through the eyes of the Jews, Iraq's first wave of refugees. After 2,600 years living peacefully in the area, in one generation, the community vanishes.


Golden Boys,” 2016, Hebrew with English subtitles, 56 mins.

March 15, 4:45 p.m.

Every week, 10 elderly gay men gather at the LGBT Center of Tel-Aviv. This intimate space is their last and only shelter, where they can deal with aging openly: from sexuality and body image to loneliness and their conditions as widowers, divorcees and/or grandparents. 

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 Chaims 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.