One of the fundamental principles of the NOAM youth movement is support for a pluralistic community. These two words contain the essence of the movement and its participants. NOAM-niks are an open and accepting community in which every member can feel comfortable expressing him or herself and conveying who and what they are.
The members of the NOAM youth movement come from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and include members from different socio-economic backgrounds, from different ethnic origins (including members from the Ethiopian community, as well as immigrants from France, the FSU and Guatemala), and also a significant number of children with disabilities who are integrated into activities as individuals or as a group.
Members of the LGBTQ community are common within NOAM, and people find it a safe, supportive and friendly place. The movement’s professional staff encourage youth group participants to talk openly about their sexual identity and see members of the LGBTQ community as a natural part of NOAM. A number of actions are being taken during the year that raise awareness inside and outside of NOAM:
- •During the school year, the NOAM movement’s high school students participate in a day on “Sex, Sexuality and Gender” as part of their class seminars; one month of the year is dedicated to the value of a “pluralistic community," and as part of this month the counselors and participants learn about “acceptance of the other" in general, and they participate in a specific educational activity about the LGBTQ community as well.
- •Within the framework of the “NOAM Council Statutes” (statutes determined by the high school students which are approved every year at the NOAM conference that takes place at the movement’s Hanukkah seminar) it was decided to choose struggles of the LGTBQ community as one of the four issues that guide the movement’s activities and to which it will commit its support. Thanks to this and to the high awareness of the participants concerning the rights of the community, every year NOAM members put on their green NOAM youth movement shirts and join the gay pride parades throughout the country to express their support.
- •NOAM also participated in a number of collaborations with the gay youth organization, Iggy, as part of the joint partnership between the two organizations in the Youth Organizations Council.
The high level of awareness and openness displayed by the NOAM Youth movement towards LGBTQ issues allows the movement’s members to feel comfortable disclosing their sexual identity. As well it creates a reality in which there are members of the LGBTQ community serving at all levels of the professional staff at NOAM. Their identity is known to all.
NOAM believes that the value of pluralism and acceptance of others will be a leading value in Israeli society. We are making an effort to make this value present in the Youth movement and to impart it to everyone around us.
For more about the Masorti Movement in Israel, follow its blogs at masorti.org.