34: Coming Out, Getting In - Israel Story 34: Coming Out, Getting In - Israel Story
34: Coming Out, Getting In
Payam Feili is a gay Iranian poet. Nadav Schwartz is an Orthodox Israeli Jew. But in ways both astoundingly similar and utterly different, both men have journeyed out of their communities, leaving behind almost everything but their identity. In our Passover special, we bring you two surprising stories of wanderers searching for a new life.
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Tonight, Jews around the world will gather together at their seder tables. They will drink wine, ask questions, search for the Afikoman and recite the obligation to see themselves as if they personally had come out of Egypt. And that is, really, what the seder is all about – the telling and retelling of the greatest Jewish “coming out” story of all time. A story of venturing out into the unknown, of wandering in physical and metaphorical deserts and of seeking refuge in a new home.

Mishy Harman goes into Rabbi Susan Silverman’s Jerusalem kitchen. There, they talk about a forty-person-vegetarian seder and a forty-thousand-person humanitarian campaign.

Payam Feili could have been the darling of Israeli hasbara. He could have gone on speaking tours, received standing ovations at AIPAC, and become a symbol of all that is good about the Jewish State. But that didn’t happen. Instead, his application for political asylum is stuck somewhere in the slow pipeline of Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority. In the meantime, he lives in a legal limbo – unable to legally work, obtain health insurance or even open a band account. Samuel Thrope brings us the story of an unlikely, and ambivalent, Zionist.

When twelve-year-old Nadav Schwartz saw a picture of Cindy Crawford in a skimpy bathing suit, he didn’t understand why all his friends were making such a big fuss. But it didn’t take him long to uncover the reason – he was attracted to men. Growing up in an Orthodox community, however, that was not good news. Zev Levi steps into the world of ‘de’oraita gays’ and tells a tale of denial, fear, acceptance and blackmail.

The original music in this episode was composed and performed by Ari Wenig, with help from Yochai Maital. The final song, Avarnu et Par’o (‘We Overcame Pharaoh’), is by Meir Ariel. The episode was edited by Julie Subrin, recorded by Ben Wallick and mixed by Sela Waisblum.

Thanks to Naomi Schneider and to Tamara Newman from the Hotline for Refugees & Migrants.

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