Pre-Sukkot Shabbat Service with Guests from the Jerusalem Open House


Friday, September 25th at 8pm: Tom Canning and Sarah Kala from the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, the LGBT Center in Jerusalem, will join BCC’s Shabbat Service with Rabbi Lisa Edwards and lay leader Davi Cheng.

Executive Director Sarah Kala and Tom Canning, Director of Development, will give us updates on Jerusalem Open House and queer life in Jerusalem, especially in these weeks after the Pride Parade and the horrible stabbings that took the life of 16 year old girl Shira Banki.

Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (JOH) is the flagship LGBT organization in Jerusalem and its only LGBT center. In their words: “With a constituency as diverse as the city itself, the JOH transcends political, ethnic and religious boundaries to build and unite a community in pursuit of the common goal of tolerance and mutual support.”

Two months after the hate crime at the Jerusalem Pride Parade, which took the life of Shira Banki, wounded 5 others and scared all those who believe in freedom and peace, Jerusalem Open House is still determined to create a new reality in Jerusalem. The scars and trauma have not yet healed, but JOH’s mission in society has remained the same; to build trust and love between the LGBTQ community and the orthodox religious community and maintain the fragile coexistence of these two communities, which the murder tried to destroy.

In the midst of the Jewish month of mercy and forgiveness and the Days of Awe, JOH leaders promote tolerance and reconciliation with a clear message: “Enough of hate, it is time for love”.

Sarah Kala – Executive Director
Sarah is an educator by profession and began her working career as a grade school teacher in Jerusalem. Her first position at JOH as the program manager of the LGBTQ Teen Support Program and later established the Psycho-Social service of the organization. During her time as a program manager, Sarah was able to establish the first official working relationship between the Jerusalem Municipality and the JOH, changing the 18 year perception that this would not be possible in a religious city such as Jerusalem. She entered her position as Executive Director this year with the goal of placing the LGBTQ community in Jerusalem as an integral part of Jerusalemite society by creating new coalitions with city stakeholders within and outside the LGBTQ community.

Tom Canning – Director of Development
Tom arrived in Jerusalem, following his military service, as an Economics student at Hebrew University and began volunteering at the JOH HIV Clinic. Two years later he became a staff member. Tom is a former activist and development coordinator of several organizations including Youth Action Nepal in Kathmandu, The United World Colleges Committee of Israel and later was the coordinator of the Arava Valley of Peace program for Israeli and Palestinian youth.

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