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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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The Jewish Press Won’t Be Silenced


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For more than 50 years The Jewish Press has been the voice of the Jewish people.

We have stood up for the Jewish people, for the nation and for individuals. We have stood up when everyone else has been silent. We have stood up when it was unpopular to do so. We have stood up to praise, protect, and even reprimand our people when needed.

For years, it was The Jewish Press which waved the banner on the plight of agunot (women who were refused divorce documents by their recalcitrant husbands) when the rest of the Jewish world had nothing to say about that awful situation in which Jewish women were being trapped.

And we will continue to be the voice of the Jewish people, no matter who threatens us.

Last week we ran an op-ed article by Chaim Levin, a young man who has identified himself as both religious and homosexual.

We did not run this article to promote homosexuality. We did not run this article to condone anti-halachic behavior. We did not run this article to intimate that homosexual behavior could be a Jewish life choice.

We ran this article because, whether one wants to admit it or not, there is a serious problem that some members of our religious community face – day in and day out. It could be your chavrusah (study partner) in yeshiva, the guy sitting next to you in shul, or your brother in your very own home. And this is true whether you wear a black hat, a streimel, or a knit yarmulke.

Pretending that there are no frum Jews with homosexual inclinations won’t make the truth go away. It won’t make the internal conflicts they fight with their yetzer hara (evil inclination) disappear.

We were asked to publish the article in question after being approached by a therapist from within the frum community who primarily treats religious youth with drug abuse problems.

A significant number of suicide attempts are committed by boys from not just religious but rabbinic homes — because they thought they were homosexual and had no place in the Orthodox world they grew up in, even if they had never acted on those impulses.

Until politics exits the science, it won’t be known if homosexuality is genetic, hormonal, neurological, psychological, or a choice. The Torah itself is very clear on where it stands on homosexual acts.

But the Torah is also very clear on how one should treat one’s fellow Jew, and certainly one who tries to be religious — whether he or she succeeds or not — should not be driven by fellow Jews to contemplate suicide.

A situation where religious Jews are provoking children and adults who are different to consider suicide is unthinkable and unacceptable.

Following the publication of this op-ed, a number of Jewish Press advertisers were approached and threatened. They were told to stop advertising with The Jewish Press.

The Jewish Press won’t give in to threats and we won’t be silenced.

We thank our advertisers who have notified us that they plan to continue with us despite the threatening letters and that they won’t give into threats either, particularly when an article like this one may have very well have saved a Jewish life.

People can do teshuvah (repent) for many acts against halacha, but what forgiveness can there be for pushing someone so far that he or she would commit suicide?

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123 Responses to “The Jewish Press Won’t Be Silenced”

  1. anonymous says:

    Great note. Sad that you completely neglected to include gay women.

  2. Pinchus says:

    Kol HaKavod, Jewish Press!!!

  3. Andy Marcus says:

    Thank you, thank you – a million times thank you – for standing up for true Torah values, from which the Jewish Press clearly will not be bullied!!!

  4. Lisa says:

    I have never been so proud of The Jewish Press as I am now. May you be zocheh to receive kindness in equal measure to the kindness you have shown.

  5. Susan says:

    Thank you for upholding true Jewish values! Torah condemns ACTIONS, NOT INCLINATIONS (& plenty of other actions that people don’t harp on as much as they do these)! And suicide is the biggest sin of all – no Jew should ever feel driven to this by any other Jew!!!

  6. Aviva says:

    Yasher Koach Jewish Press.

  7. Yaakov says:

    Thank you for the support. It means a lot to know that there are people in this community who are willing to defend the mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael at all costs.

  8. Dana Friedman says:

    THANK YOU! Thank you for having published Chaim Levin’s piece and for having stood behind it. I was a regular reader of The Jewish Press 25 years ago. When R. Porush and R. Kahane had regular articles, and Arnold Fine had the back page, I’d never have dreamed that The Jewish Press could come to be so inclusive of the Orthodox community that’s far more diverse than some might like to admit. If your article, and your having stood by it made even one person rethink their views on inclusion it was well worth it. I appreciate The Jewish Press having made the effort it has.

    Thank You again!

    Dana Friedman

  9. Roni beer says:

    Kudos and hakarat Hanover for printing Chaim Levin’s article. If that article can help one person, if that article can make someone understand what it is like to be an orthodox homosexual, if that article can make one person act in a nicer, nonjudgmental way towards another human being, then the Jewish Press has accomplished.

  10. Allan Altman says:

    Thank you for shedding light on this sadly neglected crisis that needs all our attention!!

  11. Schmutzi says:

    It is nice to see someone standing up for what they believe in.

  12. Moshe says:

    As a gay, frum, chayal boded from New Jersey it puts a smile on my face, slowly slowly we will be recognized, fixed? maybe not, but we need recognition. People are suffering everyday beyond the norm. Stand strong TJP

  13. Charlie Hall says:

    I myself faced a lot of bullying and harassment when I was young, because I was not (and still am not) at all macho and people assumed I was gay. I happen to be attracted only to women and Baruch HaShem I will have been married seven years next week. It is very saddening that Chaim Levin’s essay resulted in such a reaction. Thank you for publishing it and for refusing to cave to intimidation. I will go out of my way to patronize your advertisers.

  14. "Zalman" says:

    I am 32, I am sitting reading this in my livingroom and crying. Thank you for your words of decency and humanity that so clearly stem from a deep, sincere, pure ahavas yisroel. I wish I had read something like this as a teenager, when, becoming a baal tshuvah and in public high school, I was the only student in a school of 4,000 in Manhattan who wore a kippa and tzitzis, was the founder and president of an active and successful Jewish student outreach group in my high school (which was 20% Jewish), but was also struggling and torn about my sexual reality of exclusive same gender attraction. I was tortured by this conflict of wanting so much to do Hashem’s will, and to bring Jewish children into the world on one hand, and having zero desire for sexual connection with women, while the desire for intimacy with men was tangible and undeniably real. I promised Hashem, while visiting Majdanek on a March of the Living tour when I was 17, and breaking down sobbing from the pain of seeing hundreds of pairs of murdered Jewish children’s shoes, that my answer to the evil of millions of our people being murdered (including my mother’s parents when she was 3, in 1942) was to rise above my nature and get married and bring Jewish children into the world. I was married twice – once when I was 21 for a few months (which was a disaster, our unhealthy, rather dead sex life was the main cause of the divorce 4 months into the marriage) and again a couple of years later, where, with the helpful advice of Rabbi Manis Friedman, whom I had opened up to about my homosexual reality of being, I had beautiful children B”H. The second marriage ended in divorce several years in. I am torn currently on what to do, how to continue my life in a holy, healthy way where my children will see me as a role model, but not getting into another marriage that at least in terms of libidinal gratification is at high risk to be doomed to fail. I “came out” and told many friends, some of whom still set me up on dates with women – whom I insist on sharing my struggle with. I have had surprisingly many women accept me and want to date me – it is I who ends up breaking off shidduchim. I have succumbed and “dated” guys, but although the relationships were sexually satisfying, I felt like I was using my body in a way that is against how Hashem intended, and literally wasting myself. There is so much more I can write, but I’ll stop here. I just want to share with readers that there are plenty of guys like me with intense ahavas yisroel, a deep love for Hashem and Eretz Israel, who struggle daily with how best to deal with a homosexual reality.

  15. HW says:

    THANK YOU!

  16. Yossi says:

    WOW, What Courage! I hope that you serve as an example to other publications leaders.

    How often do we hear of a Jewish institution that chooses to stand with their ideals, even in the face of significant monetary loss?

    This newspaper has shown nothing short of heroism. It tells us all that we do not have to let the bullys win…WE CAN STAND UP TO THEM!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you…with tears in my eyes, thank you.

    You have made be believe again in the authenticity of the Jewish Orthodox voice. We are not panderers, we are not sheep, we are not rabble rousers…we simply will stand for those who suffer. We will be the voice of those who are vulnerable. And with steadfast belief in Hashem we will do everything we can to make this world a safer place for our children. OUR CHILDREN, and that includes our beautiful, wanted, and holy gay and lesbian children.

    May Hashem bless this Newspaper with the strength and and hope that it just gave me and my family.

    On behalf of every Frum family with gay and lesbian members, THANK YOU!

  17. Ilana says:

    B’H
    Zalman I feel for your pain and wish you success in your struggles andI do hope that you find true happiness in a balanced relationship with the right person and are able to do Hashem’s will. All of us are given tests and it is never easy.
    One has to stand up to Bullies.

  18. tnyc says:

    Thank you to the Jewish Press for standing tall, and for supporting Ahavas Yisroel. We can judge each other, reprimand each other, etc…but when do we really sit down, take a step back, and just try to love each other (differences and all)? The fact that people approached advertisers and threatened them is very disturbing but, unfortunately, not surprising. The people who did that should sit back and take a good look at themselves, judge themselves before judging others. The Jewish Press? What can I say? Thank you for standing up for yourself, and for an article that was heartbreaking to read whether you related to it or not. The idea that Jewish neshamos are in danger….well…we should do everything we can to prevent suicides. Period.

  19. Abracadabra says:

    Excellent Editorial!! And kudos to the Jewish Press for taking a stand and making a positive difference in a sorely needed place within the (very wide) Orthodox world.

    I buy the Jewish Press on the newsstands when the mood strikes me, but I am now going to subscribe – simply as a way of showing my hakoras hatov (gratitude) to the paper.

    Excellent job! Continue to stand strong against coercion and threats. But more importantly – continue to stand strong for the inclusion and acceptance of every Jew.

  20. "Zalman" says:

    ps please feel free to publish my comment in the paper

  21. Rich Dweck says:

    Thank you to the Jewish Press! You are what journalism is all about. Journalism is not regurgitating the same lily white lovely things about life. Journalism is taking risks and speaking about issues that make a difference in this world. If you have any issue with any advertisers backing out, please let us know who and how much they were paying and we will work to get you replacements! Stay true to Journalism and doing the right thing. I think we have enough publications that lack any integrity. I wrote my blog because of this exact issue. I call it the “Pink Elephant”, because it speaks about all the issues that are not being spoken about in our communities or in our publications! Thank you and mazal tov on being ethical!
    http://richdweck.blogspot.com/

  22. Susan S says:

    I know that the issue that you raise is a real one.

    My husband is a psychologist and he frequently sees boys who struggle with this issue.

    It should be noted that, in his opinion, often this issue seems to be caused by the fact that the young men exist almost exclusively in all-male environments (yeshivot) have no contact with young women. They’ve got normal teenage hormones — and nowhere to attach their very real physical and emotional yearnings — except to another boy that they frequently interact with…

    In other words, my husband and I think that the homosexual feelings/desires that young men in yeshivot are often (but not always, of course) part of a “phase” that fades when they eventually start dating and marrying.

    Now, that does NOT mean that ANYONE should be harassed or persecuted to the point where they need drugs to numb the pain or attempt suicide, it is just something to keep in mind if/when the subject comes up with a young man.

    I think it would help to explain to boys struggling with this issue that these feelings are not uncommon and are often caused by the intense all-male environment they are in — and will probably fade once they start dating…

    While, of course, it’s not true that that the feelings/desires will fade in 100% of the cases, it might help reduce the emotional stress of the situation (and therefore, reduce the addiction & suicide rate) by “normalizing” the desire — because the desire itself is not the problem — acting on it is the (halachic) problem. (There would be no need for a halacha regarding homosexual relations if no one ever had the desire for it!)

    In other words, perhaps we should educate students parents, rabbis and educators to be more accepting of the desire while empahsizing that in many cases, the desire will resolve itself in time. One should not rush to the conclusion that they will necessarily struggle with these desires forever — and CERTAINLY no one should be stigmatized or persecuted because they are struggling with these issues. In fact, these desires are understandable, based on the environments that these boys are living in… The issue must be dealt with — with grace, respect and dignity for all involved.

  23. Susan S says:

    What a struggle! What a test. I see how hard you are trying…There is no easy answer. Though I don’t know you, you are in my prayers.

  24. Jay says:

    Just to be clear about one important thing: Did Chaim Levin identify himself explicitly as “religious?” It seemed in the comment sections he pretty much said he is not religious, and I think it is important to be factually honest about that.

    I also wish the Jewish Press would find stories of men who did succeed in reparative therapy. The whole article with Chaim Levin was a good perspective of his encounter with it, but it leaves the Orthodox Jew who is experiencing same-sex attractions to either feel the only way he can live his life is by being gay and going against Halacha, or by living celibate. That seems to me pretty depressing. This would not be the case if we could hear about the third option – change and reparative therapy, from an individual who has succeeded in that. There are such men, and I think it would be advantageous if the Jewish Press sought after such individuals as well.

  25. Baruch Gitlin says:

    I want to compliement you on publishing the original article, and on this editorial. I’m no fan of the homosexual rights movement or homosexual marriage, but it’s important to be able to hear what people like Chaim Levin have to say. It’s an important role of the press to bring facts to light, and if the Orthodox press hides facts because of their religious sensitivities, it becomes irrelevant for anyone trying to ascertain the truth of a situation. By printing contraversial articles, both here and on the aguna issue, The Jewish Press maintains its credibility and provides a very valuable service to its readers. Please do not be cowed by any threats, and keep up the good work!

  26. Thank you so much for this story. Suicide in the context of same-sex attracted people, especially youth, needs to be given the spotlight and as much oxygen as possible. This is the most neglected, swept-under the carpet, ignored and taboo topic in the Jewish world and it has the most devastating outcomes.

    I have been working to bring attention to this issue for some years now in the Jewish community in Melbourne, Australia. There has been much resistance to this conversation but increasingly the tide is turning and people are starting to open their eyes to the reality of the situation.

    Check out some of my blogs on the issue: http://mikeybear.wordpress.com/tag/youth-suicide/

    Please keep discussing this topic ad nausaeum. Too much coverage won’t be enough.

    Thank you.

    Michael Barnett.

  27. Havah says:

    Yasher Koach Jewish Press!

  28. Yosef says:

    At the saem time I personally know over 20 formerly gay people and three who are married or engaged.

    There are people who wanted to change. For some of them had they given up after a short attempt would not have been successful. It took 4 years for some – just like the struggle for alcoholism or any other difficult issue.

  29. Finally!! Thanks jp

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