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Rabbis rally to support Israeli trans teen left with traumatic brain injury

Rabbis rally to support Israeli trans teen left with traumatic brain injury

Osher Band was hospitalized after classmates violently attacked her

Dozens of Orthodox rabbis in Israel signed a letter offering their support to a trans girl who can no longer attend school due to escalating violence against her.

Faced with increasing transphobia, Osher Band, 15, stopped attending her school in Ashkelon last year.

But after being forced to go back, in just a week, a classmate attacked the teen, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury, Haaretz reported.

However, rabbis have written to the school pleading for the faculty to do more for trans teens attending ORT Henry Ronson High School.

What happened to Osher Band?

Band hasn’t gone to school for six months after other students attacked her verbally and physically, including threatening her with a knife.

As a result, she remained at home, and her mother tried to transfer her to another school. But she received a letter threatening criminal action if Osher didn’t return to school.

However, after just one week back, classmates violently attacked the 15-year-old. Resulting in a traumatic brain injury.

Band told Haaretz that the school faculty requested her not to come to school with hair extensions and long nails so as not to attract attention to herself. Though, the school disputed these claims.

Moreover, the high-school said her behavior was ‘provocative.’ They also claimed she posted ‘crude, flaunting pictures’ on her personal Instagram account.

A few weeks back, Band and her mother left their apartment due to harassment by local children, and moved in with a friend. Israel’s LGBTI task force, AGUDA, are providing the family support.

‘Should not exist in a properly functioning society’

Speaking to Gay Star News, Ran Shalhavi, vice president of the AGUDA, said: ‘A situation in which a 15-year-old girl is expelled from school due to violence is a situation in which the Israeli educational system surrenders to bullying and discrimination.

‘That should not exist in a properly functioning society.

‘The responsible authorities refuse to acknowledge their responsibility, let alone act accordingly.

‘The AGUDA and Nir Katz Report Center are demanding the Ministry of Education to deal with the case properly and for the girl’s favor and that the violence will be removed from all educational systems in our country immediately.’

What did the rabbis say?

Around 56 rabbis wrote the letter addressed to Band and sent it to the Education Ministry and the school principal.

They wrote: ‘We, Orthodox rabbis and rabbis’ wives, are shocked and pained to hear of the violence against you because of your identity as a transgender girl.

‘This is not the way of the Jewish people. The Torah teaches us “love thy neighbor as thyself,” and the ancient Jewish sages teach us that the Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred.

‘We are commanded to respect every person. Moreover we are commanded to care for the “stranger, the orphan and the widow.”

‘That is, every man, woman, girl or boy who lives among us and is in a fragile social state, such as transgender people.’

‘A strong, happy woman’

Among the signatories to the letter are Rabbi Avidan Friedman, a senior rabbi at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and Rabbi David Bigman, head of the Ma’aleh Gilboa Yeshiva.

The rabbis went onto express to Band that they hope ‘Officials in the Education Ministry will take practical steps to ensure that when the students see transgender boys and girls grappling with their identity.

‘We hope and pray that you succeed in recovering from the physical as well as mental scars this violence has left in you.

‘With God’s help you will grow to be a strong, happy woman and enjoy much joy [“osher,” or אושר in Hebrew], like your name.’

See also

Israeli military appoints first ever out gay major general

Israelis protest exclusion of LGBTI couples from surrogacy bill

Israeli religious group denounces LGBTI community for ‘destroying family values’