Tova Ross wrote that support of Israel is not a “one-size-fits-all type of deal.” She is correct, but Orthodox groups must be very careful not to appear to grant legitimacy to immoral behavior. By marching alongside Jewish Queer Youth, the yeshivas and other Orthodox Jewish groups did precisely that.
In 1993, when the controversy over CBST was at its height, one rabbi argued against its inclusion. He wrote, in part, “I cannot legitimize deviant sexual behavior even if I forgive it.” He added: “It is one thing to protect the deviant. It is another matter when the deviant seeks to change the values system.” This writer was Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, nobody’s idea of a right wing, fire-breathing traditionalist.
Now that the parade is over and there is ample time to consider next year’s event, let us ask: Has the Torah changed since 1993? Is what was forbidden then permissible now? I call upon Orthodox groups to unite in an unconditional declaration that they will not march next year unless groups that promote sin are excluded.
Simultaneously, I wish to assure Daniel Weintraub that we harbor no hatred toward him. He and other gays have the same right to march as any of us, as long as they do so in a manner that does not promote sin.
Far Rockaway, NY
On June 2, some national Orthodox Jewish organizations as well as many Modern Orthodox yeshivas marched in the Celebrate Israel Parade despite the fact that this parade included for the first time a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender group marching under a banner indicating explicitly what they represent.
I think it was wrong for the Orthodox groups to march with this group, because it at least implicitly implies validation of their agenda. In truth, I think it has been a mistake for Orthodox groups to march in a parade in which groups representing the Reform and Conservative movements march under banners representing their movements. This lends credence to the “three branches of Judaism” propaganda that no Torah-true Jew should subscribe to.
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s approach to dealing with Jewish groups that deviate from Torah Judaism was austritt (separation). I think it is the correct approach to such issues. No Orthodox Jew or organization should do anything that even implicitly recognizes the validity of non-observant groups as being acceptable to Torah-true Judaism.
I am convinced that if all of the Orthodox organizations that participated in the parade this year would refuse in the future to march in a Celebrate Israel Parade in which banners of non-Torah organizations are displayed, those behind the parade would have to give in and not allow such organizations to march with such banners. From news reports it is apparent that the overwhelming majority of participants in the parade were from Orthodox institutions. Without them, it seems, participation in the parade would drop considerably, maybe even to the point that having it would not be viable.
Let me add for clarification that I am not opposed to Orthodox organizations marching with non-observant Jews. It is the banners – and the implied stamp of approval of what they stand for by Orthodox Jews – that I feel is inappropriate.
Dr. Yitzchok Levine
Editor’s Note: Dr. Levine writes the popular Glimpses Into American Jewish History feature that appears the first issue of each month in The Jewish Press.