Lena Turel, Community Organizer, Wadi Ara
“I grew up in Herzliya to a family of social activists. I was always a little different from other girls, a nonconformist of sorts. I was a tomboy, I rode a skateboard. When I lived on a kibbutz during my military service, I was the only girl who worked on the dairy farm, while most other girls worked in laundry, or the cafeteria. And even then, I had to fight for that role. Later on, I went to film school, and my dream was to be a director, but I kept getting set production gigs, because those are the roles women usually land in the film industry. That was hard for me because I wanted to be a director. Today, I’m a director and screenwriter, but it wasn’t an overnight transition. I spent a lot of time thinking I wasn’t good enough for those roles. As women, we are often expected to not rock the boat, rather than speak up and fight against injustice… This is what I aim to teach my kids—to always speak up and fight against injustice.
My partner is a woman named Ofri, and we have 3 children: twin boys named Adam and Itamar who are 7 years old, and a 3 year-old girl named Albi. All 3 of my kids attend the Bridge over the Wadi school. For us, the school is an island of sanity. It’s not a bubble, because bubbles tend to denote some kind of impossibility, or being detached from reality. That’s not the case. What we’ve created at the school is how all reality should be, and it’s very possible.
As a woman in a same-sex couple, I feel we’ve not only been embraced by the school, we’ve also felt the impact of our presence on the community. Everyone speaks about it openly, and it’s given parents the opportunity to teach their kids about different types of families.
I think everything is political—being a woman is political, being part of a shared society is political, being gay is political. It’s important for me to be involved and be active in effecting change. I’m part of a women’s forum in Pardes Hannah-Karkur, where I live, where we deal with issues surrounding violence against women, in particular. I’m also part of a program called “51,” which is a political movement that strives to place women in leadership positions in local and national politics. It’s called “51” because women make up 51% of the population, a statistic which isn’t reflected in leadership positions.
I have political aspirations. I ran for local office in Pardes Hannah-Karkur, and I was only 20 votes short. I feel at home doing the groundwork, being out in protests, helping grassroot movements grow. But I also think we need more people in local and national leadership and decision-making positions to fight for women, minorities, Arabs and LGBTQ+ rights. I want to do just that.”