Welcome! We’re happy that you are studying with us at Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School (RIS). In this section, we’ll provide you with useful information about being LGBTQ+ in Jerusalem and Israel. We’re here to help you have a positive and fulfilling study abroad experience while being true to yourself and staying safe.
Your LGBTQ+ Representative
RIS is committed to providing all students with a positive, safe experience in Jerusalem, and this includes our LGBTQ+ students. Ira Kirschner, our LGBTQ+ representative, will be happy to speak to you – whether it’s to answer questions, solve problems, or provide you with additional information about being LGBTQ+ in Jerusalem and Israel!
There will be a special orientation for LGBTQ+ students and allies. It takes place during the first week of each semester and will provide you with important and helpful information.
Please get in touch with us about your rooming preferences. We will represent your rooming needs to the RIS dormitory coordinator.
Gender-Neutral Bathroom & General Accessibility
There is a gender-neutral bathroom on the fourth floor of the Boyar Building, opposite Room 403. If you have any other accessibility issues that need to be addressed, please contact us.
Queer Resources at Hebrew University
There are no laws in Israel prohibiting LGBTQ+ identity or behavior. Furthermore, the Israeli government awards pensions of deceased LGBTQ+ military officers to their surviving partners. Trendy Tel Aviv is recognized as the best place to be LGBTQ+ in the Middle East and is even rated among the best cities to be gay worldwide. A wide range of bars, cafes, and clubs in Tel Aviv offer a constantly changing calendar of theme nights and parties.
Many cities in Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, host gay pride parades. However, Jerusalem is more conservative than Tel Aviv. The parades in Jerusalem have been more controversial, but they do have the support of leading Muslim, Christian, and Jewish liberal religious authorities. It’s important to keep in mind that different areas within Jerusalem may have different levels of acceptance of people identifying as LGBTQ+. We’ve created a list of tips below to help you get a general picture. As with any other issue, if you’re unsure of something, please check with a madrich.
Tips for Staying Safe & Having Fun
- Tel Aviv is very welcoming to LGBTQ+ populations. Have fun, but follow the usual precautions for safety in an international environment.
- Eilat is also relatively progressive and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community.
- Haifa is moderately welcoming. More discretion is advised here.
- LGTBQ behavior is forbidden in Palestinian/Arab communities, including East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Jordan, and Egypt. We advise extreme caution and maintaining a low profile in these areas.
- We advise similar discretion in the Jewish ultra-Orthodox and Hassidic neighborhoods of Jerusalem north of Jaffa Road (such as Mea Shearim), in the Old City of Jerusalem, in Safed, and in small, less-touristy Israeli towns where the character of the population may not be clear.
- Jerusalem is a more traditional city, but there are small but vibrant LGBTQ+ communities. While some people may react strangely, it is becoming more and more common to see same-sex couples and LGBTQ+ culture.
Resources in Jerusalem
Most synagogues in Jerusalem are modern Orthodox, and none will ask you at the door about your sexual identity! We highly recommend experiencing different types of prayer around Jerusalem. Here are a few that are often frequented by LGBTQ+ Jerusalemites:
Resources in Tel Aviv
Association for GLBT in Israel
Tel.: +972 3 620 5590
Community of Feminist Lesbians in Israel (CLAF)
Tel.: +972 (54) 531 9855
Political Council for GLBT Rights in Israel
Tel.: +972 3 613 2418
Support & Crisis Hotlines
For emotional counseling
Tel.: +972 3 732 5560
Hours: 7:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. daily
Info and counseling line for the Association for GLBT
Tel.: +972 3 516 7236
Gay-Friendly Psychologists and Therapists
Tel.: +972 2 516 7235
We’d love to hear from you!
Director, Office of Student Life
Rothberg International School
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Boyar Building, Room 403
Tel.: +972 2 588 2606