Can one imagine a Celebrate Israel Parade that includes a marching group called Adulterers for Israel? Or Sabbath Violators for Israel? And what about Jews for Jesus? Certainly those of us who love Torah and love Israel would be appalled. I would be hesitant to attend a parade that implicitly endorses sinful activity. Yet that is precisely what transpired at this year’s parade, when, for the first time, a gay group, Jewish Queer Youth, marched under its own banner.
My family has attended and/or marched in the parade many times. I fervently believe the parade broadcasts the vital message that Israel has countless supporters: Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and secular, black and white. All these groups and more are represented among the marchers, and they should be. Yet we must draw the line when it comes to organizations that actively promote sin; they simply cannot be permitted to march under a banner that trumpets a deviant lifestyle. And if they do participate, then we should not.
The Torah (Leviticus 18:22-28) lists homosexual conduct among the abominations that caused the Land of Israel to spit out the Canaanites in favor of the Israelites. The Torah warns that we must avoid such behavior, lest, God forbid, the land spit us out as well. How, then, can we justify the inclusion of Jewish Queer Youth and similar groups in an event whose purpose is to help Israel?
The Celebrate Israel Parade is administered by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. I spoke at length with a JCRC employee, but he was unwilling even to acknowledge my point, let alone agree with me. To paraphrase the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, deviancy has been defined down to the point where those who protest moral erosion are seen as antiquated.
My belief is that all the yeshivas and other Orthodox participants in the parade should take a unified stand. They should tell the JCRC in no uncertain terms that they will not participate in next year’s parade unless openly gay/lesbian groups are excluded.
Far Rockaway, NY