About Bat Kol
The Bat-Kol – Religious Lesbian Organization was founded in 2005 by a group of women who were not willing to relinquish their religious identity or their right to live their lives as lesbians.
Four to ten percent of the women in any population group are lesbians, and Jewish religious women are no exception. In the past, religious lesbians were forced to choose between their different identities. Some chose to realize their lesbian identity and in doing so leave the religious world. Those who chose to remain in the religious community either lived lives of loneliness without families or else entered into miserable marriages with men, relinquishing the possibility of a loving and sharing relationship. The women who founded Bat-Kol made a different choice. They chose to remain religious but not to relinquish the lesbianism that constitutes the essence of who they are.
Ten women founded the social group that later was to become Bat-Kol. In the winter of 2005, the organization was officially established and its name was chosen. Since then, more and more women have joined Bat-Kol, and as of July 2008 the organization numbers 150 women ranging in age from 19 to over 60. The members include graduates of religious high schools for girls in outlying areas, such as Kfar Pines and Tzviya, urban religious high schools for girls like the Pelech High School in Jerusalem and even graduates of ultra-Orthodox Bais Yaakov schools. Some have set up lesbian family relations and are raising children together, while others are still in the closet. All are coping with the complexities of their choice.
During the first half of 2008, Bat-Kol was reorganized. In a series of meetings with an advisor from Shatil, The New Israel Fund’s Empowerment and Training Center for Social Change Organizations in Israel, Bat-Kol’s basic principles were formulated and a mechanism for effective operation was established. The first general assembly of Bat-Kol was held on the 14th of Tammuz, 5768, corresponding to July 17, 2008. The 84 members present at this exciting occasion were given membership cards, signed the document of principles and selected the first administrative committee. Bat-Kol was off to a new start.
Bat-Kol holds meetings on a regular basis and offers a variety of social activities for religious lesbians. These meetings provide a social framework as well as support and encouragement. Bat-Kol’s activities also provide explanation and education geared toward the full integration of lesbians in the religious community. In recent years, the attitude toward homosexuals and lesbians among the religious community in general and its rabbis in particular has begun to change. Yet there is still much more to be done in this regard, and Bat-Kol is continuing to work toward changing the attitude toward lesbians among the entire spectrum of the religious public through its many information and publicity campaigns.
Prior to the gay pride parade in Jerusalem held in June 2005, Bat-Kol appealed to the religious community to march in the parade to promote tolerance and acceptance of others within the community. This parade marked the first time that the members of Bat-Kol marched together as a group, alongside pioneering religious straight friends who had responded to their appeal. Dressed in white and carrying purple balloons, the members of Bat-Kol made a statement – we are here! Since then, Bat-Kol has marched each year in the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance, with the numbers growing every year.
Bat-Kol works toward enabling religious lesbians to live authentic and loving lives, lives marked by sharing and equality as well as by wholeness and acceptance within religious society. Realizing these objectives is essential not only for religious lesbians but also for the entire religious community in order to build a society that is proper and just, one marked by the meeting of benevolence, truth and peace.