If we ever have peace in the Middle East, it could be thanks to people like Rebbetzin Malka Falsche, a rising Israeli drag queen. When she’s not entertaining in the clubs, Falsche is better known as Shahar Hadar, a yarmulke-wearing openly gay Orthodox Jew in Israel.
Someone who can balance such precarious obligations to his religion, his family, his passion and himself has a lot to teach.
Hadar, now 34, knew he was gay in his teens, but became more observant in hopes it would turn him straight. After being caught with another boy in yeshiva, he quickly married a girl a friend introduced him to. But their marriage was joyless and she filed for divorce. (He still hasn’t seen his 11-year-old daughter.)
Several years later, Hadar marched in Tel Aviv Pride and came out to his mother—who surprised him by accepting him. Despite it all, he holds his faith: “As much as I fled it, the heavens made it clear to me that that’s who I am,” Hadar says. Taking the title of Rebbetzin, or rabbi’s wife, he adopted as his name, “Malka Falsche,” the Hebrew words for “queen” and “fake.”
Unlike many of Israel’s tough-talking queens, Falsche has a more amicable demeanor. “Usually drag queens are gruff,” Hadar explains. “I decided that I wanted to be happy, entertain people, perform [good deeds.]”
Hadar, out of drag, shantayed in yesterday’s Jerusalem Pride parade alongside some 4,000 other marchers. You go, girl!