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July 30, 2014 / 3 Av, 5774
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Orthodox Jews Should Not March Alongside the LGBT Sunday

The understanding that was maintained for two decades has been overturned.
Congregation Beth Simchat Torah is among the LGBT groups participating in the Israel Day Parade in NY City Sunday.

Congregation Beth Simchat Torah is among the LGBT groups participating in the Israel Day Parade in NY City Sunday.

By Alan Betsalel Friedlander

The Celebrate Israel Parade is an event attended heavily by Modern Orthodox Jewish attendees. A group listed only by its initials (LGBT) as a participant in this year’s parade participants list actually has a hidden agenda. In a brazen attempt to force Orthodox Jews to accept their way of life at the Torah’s expense, the understanding that was maintained for two decades has been overturned, without asking for Rabbinic authorization.

In the 1990’s, Rabbi Aharon Soloveichik protested against showing tolerance toward homosexuals as a public marching group at the Celebrate Israel Parade. Up until last year, his advice had been heeded. Avi Goldstein brought this to the attention of the community this year and many leading Rabbis have signed a letter that proclaims:

”Any participation in any event that includes so called ‘Orthodox’ groups, who in any way condone or support toevah (abomination), or a deviant way of life, is asur (forbidden). Whoever is a participant or spectator is an assistant to a sinful matter. Such a brazen public chilul HaShem (desecration of the Divine Name) needs to be denounced.

Co-Signatory Rabbi Yehuda Sheinkopf said the following: “We could not let this group march under a banner of Orthodoxy without a response that this is not Orthodoxy, is it contrary to the Torah. These rabbis feel that it must be known that to join with such a group is assisting their agenda which is contrary to the Torah.”

Rabbi Yisroel Belsky gave a heter (leniency) if due to the short notice for someone who feels committed to the event what should do so they can still attend without violating halacha. The answer was on condition that they protest the participation of the forbidden group(s).

If you wish to protest this event, the 2013 Parade occurs this Sunday, June 2, from 11 AM to 4 PM in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue from 57th to 74th Streets.

Due to the late nature of disclosure, this list of signatories (in alphabetical order) is still being populated even as this story goes to press.

Rabbi Yisroel Belsky

Rabbi Eliyahu Elbaz

Rabbi Eliezer Ginzburg

Rabbi Yosef Rabinowitz

Rabbi Aharon Moshe Schechter

Rabbi Moshe Scheinerman

Rabbi Avrohom Schorr

Rabbi Yehuda Sheinkopf

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86 Responses to “Orthodox Jews Should Not March Alongside the LGBT Sunday”

  1. Dan Silagi says:

    I'm not gay. The gay lifestyle is not for me, to put it mildly. So, for that matter is peanut butter. Can't stand it. But just because I don't like it doesn't make it bad. Should we ban peanut butter because Dan Silagi doesn't like it? Who died and made me king?

    Or for that matter, who died and vested his powers in Rabbi Belsky, who is forbidding Jews to attend the Israel Day Parade unless they swear out an affidavit saying they condemn the LGBT marchers?

    The LGBT marchers have every right to participate, as would Mr. Peanut (assuming he's pro-Israel). Rabbi Belsky, take your fatwa and shove it.

  2. If Orthodox groups march in this parade, as they do every year, notwithstanding the participation of many anti-orthodox groups whose very existence is an anathema to the Orthodox viewpoint, then why is the LGBT gtroup being singled out? They do not represent that they are Orthodox and their viewpoint is not much diffent than say, Reform or even Conservative Jewish group who in the eyes of these distinguished Rabbis are also illegitimate groups. So, while I for sure do not condone any group that espouse as its belief in a non-Orthodox lifestyle, whatever label they may have, be it Reform, Conservative Reconstructionist, Secular, Humanisitc, etc., as long as they are marching as a group that supports the Jewish State of Israel, I see nothing wrong in that and I would urge all grops to continue to participate as before. NEVERTHELESS, there are other groups whose very raison d'etre is ANTI-ISRAEL in the sense that they espouse and encourage anti-Israel viewpoints and activities, such as the BDS movement that work to harm the residents of the State of Israel and their businesses, who are allowed to march in this Celebrate Israel Parade! That is anathema to all good-hearted people who truly support the people of Israel.

  3. If Orthodox groups march in this parade, as they do every year, notwithstanding the participation of many anti-orthodox groups whose very existence is an anathema to the Orthodox viewpoint, then why is the LGBT gtroup being singled out? They do not represent that they are Orthodox and their viewpoint is not much diffent than say, Reform or even Conservative Jewish group who in the eyes of these distinguished Rabbis are also illegitimate groups. So, while I for sure do not condone any group that espouse as its belief in a non-Orthodox lifestyle, whatever label they may have, be it Reform, Conservative Reconstructionist, Secular, Humanisitc, etc., as long as they are marching as a group that supports the Jewish State of Israel, I see nothing wrong in that and I would urge all grops to continue to participate as before. NEVERTHELESS, there are other groups whose very raison d'etre is ANTI-ISRAEL in the sense that they espouse and encourage anti-Israel viewpoints and activities, such as the BDS movement that work to harm the residents of the State of Israel and their businesses, who are allowed to march in this Celebrate Israel Parade! That is anathema to all good-hearted people who truly support the people of Israel.

  4. Kathryn Anna Fortunato says:

    This is just plain silly, and you should be ashamed of yourself, Alan. HaShem loves all Jews (and I believe, all good people) equally. Let's remember that the Orthodox community violates many of HaShem's words on a regular basis, and these are indeed much more egregious than a segment of Torah that really has more to do with treatment of strangers than homosexuality.

    Where in Torah did it say that the blood of an unclean animal (mollusks) is the only acceptable dye for the blue threads of tzitzit? Nowhere, in case you were wondering. The decree was simple and unambiguous: There is to be a blue thread in the tassels.

    Before we cast aside our family and friends, we must remember that we are all guilty of breaking some of G-d's mitzvot, and interpreting them to suit our will, not G-d's, is the height of arrogance.

  5. Bryan Bridges says:

    This is sinat chinam, plain and simple. All Jews who support Israel should be welcomed to march in the parade and show their support. Israel is a tolerant welcoming state, and the only one in the region where gays and lesbians aren't put to death or, if they're lucky, in prison. LBGT Jews want to celebrate that freedom and diversity, and the rest of the community, even if they disagree with specific homosexual acts, should celebrate those values, too.

  6. When did the parade get usurped by the religious right? I haven't gone for years for this very reason, and I marched in it long ago with my children. Is it like shules? We'll start another parade, and theirs will be the parade we'll NEVER march in!

  7. Charlie Hall says:

    Will these folks be joining the Neturei Karta counter-protest? Or the Hamas and Hezbollah counter-protest?

  8. The difference is that these folks have support from very prominent rabbis. There's a copy of the letter at YWN.

  9. Charlie Hall says:

    If you don't like the parade, just don't go.

  10. Charlie Hall says:

    This is kind of ironic; one of the best reasons to support Israel is that it is just about the only country in the region to treat Gays as people.

  11. S. Asher Gelman says:

    Go. Protest the event. Make it national news! Nothing better than putting yourself on the wrong side of history. For a people who have been persecuted for their entire history, it sure must be fun to finally be able to pick on someone for being different, no?

  12. Eliyahu Fink says:

    Have any of these rabbis ever approved of the parade? Their people don't go to the parade anyway. What's the point of this?

  13. rav belsky, the same guy who covers up for pedophiles, and he don't like the other lot of gays and their pals. kind of double standard here. at the very least.surely he has no right to pass an opinion as he goes to court and lies to protect his pals.

  14. rav belsky goes to court and tells lies to protect his pedophile friends, did you know that. so how great is he again???this is a fact that can be checked out

  15. The highest ideal, as well as a summary of all that comes before, lies in these words: "Love your neighbor as yourself." How are we to understand this mitzvah?

    The simplest understanding, the most literal, is that the verse asks us to do unto others what we would have them do unto us. What does it mean to "love" your neighbor? It means to act toward her in a loving way by being helpful and generous toward her just as we would want her to be helpful and generous toward us. Perhaps, after all, it is not so much a feeling of love as a behaving in a loving way. We then know how to fulfill this mitzvah in an almost utilitarian fashion: think how we want to be treated and act to the other accordingly.

    I find it hard not to support all jews, we are to love all of our neighbor's gay or straight, and our love for Israel.

  16. Pete Webb says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. The views expressed in this article do not reflect the views of most synagogues, rabbis or Israel. It is very unfortunate that some religious leaders are using this joyous celebration to spread fear and ignorance. The parade is a wonderful event with thousands of schools, synagogues, and organizations celebrating Israeli life and culture.

  17. Anonymous says:

    We should not embarrass anyone, given a choice. When a public act of brazen disregard for G-d's honor occurs, a corresponding public protest is required by halacha. Blame my spin if you will, but do not degrade yourselves before our Father in Heaven by insulting Rabbis in violation of the Torah commandment, “Veasisa al pi hadavar asher yagidu lecha” (“and you shall do according to the judgment that they relate to you, you shall not deviate from the word they will tell you, right or left.”) It's not the Rabbis who have violated the Torah here. The situation compelled them to respond and only according to the Torah and Talmudic principals have they acted. We should only ask people involved in inappropriate behavior to return from their wrong path in a sweet and gentle way (see Rambam Hilchos Deos chapter 6), but that only applies to an individual, not to a group trying to pervert the Holy Torah. If Korach was gay, I'm sure Moshe Rabbeinu himself would have been insulted for his stance against him by members of today’s society. But it is a perception based on a fallacy of what is the will of our Creator and what is not.

  18. Brian Kent says:

    Rabbi Fink.May I suggest that a posek may give a psak on a variety of issues that they have nothing to do with on a regular basis. You know this to be true obviously. I am sure your leftist agenda goes well for your congregants on Venice Beach.

  19. Brian Kent says:

    Rabbi Belsky's heter is of no use here as it was not short notice.This was the deal last year as well.

  20. Rich Dweck says:

    I am not surprised that The Jewish Press published this article. This is the same publication that has ads for JONAH, the organization denounced by the RCA that works to change people from Gay to Straight.
    As far as this ridiculous ban, people can have different views. For those that hold that homosexual sex is a sin, a group that identifies as gay does not violate that. Identity vs. action is a huge difference. Put your time into helping others. As Rabbi Fink said, what's the point in this if these rabbis don't sanction the parade as it is. You people are so lost in your hate that you forgot what it means to love.
    Rich Dweck of JewishPinkElephant.com

  21. The fallacy of interpretation is yours. Substituting bigotry for piety is chilul Hashem. You're going to have some work to do come Elul, chaver.

  22. Rich Dweck says:

    And banner of Orthodoxy? Like we need to pick up a license from the Rebbe to say we are or not? Paleeaaassee… If we had to do that, we would hardly have anyone called orthodox left. You would inspect their underwear and all to make sure they were perfect, otherwise they would be called heretics. The same games in 2013 do NOT work!

  23. Israel T. Appel says:

    "One should always be among the persecuted and not among the persecutors." -R' Abahu, Bava Kama 93a, Talmud.

  24. Geoffrey Ian Bara says:

    I'm reminded of all the questions "Trembling Before God" raised for me. Questions that still don't have good answers. It's difficult to demand progress and cling to antiquated tradition at the same time.

  25. Geoffrey Ian Bara says:

    And hi, Asher!

  26. "“We could not let this group march under a banner of Orthodoxy without a response that this is not Orthodoxy, is it contrary to the Torah."

    This is very weird. Nowhere does it say that the LGBT groups would be marching "under a banner of Orthodoxy" or claiming to represent "Orthodoxy" in any way. I also somehow missed that this parade was an Orthodox event. The JCRC-NY is not an Orthodox-only organization, and the "celebration" (didn't it used to be "saluting?") Israel is not an Orthodox-only idea – there are evangelical Christians who are more Zionist than Zionists themselves. Please try to be just a little bit more honest: the only reason you're throwing this hissyfit is because you hate gays. By your own religion's standards, liberal Jews – Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist – are greater affronts to your view of God than Jews who just happen to be gay or lesbian (some of whom, surprise, happen to be Orthodox). You let them, march, though.

    What's even more sad is that Israel, the country you claim to love so very, very much – despite not making aliyah, I notice – grants more rights and freedoms to its gay and lesbian citizens than the United States does. If the actual Israel can welcome gays and lesbians, then surely this silly little parade in honor of Israel can, too.

  27. Mordechai Kadovitz says:

    This is nareshkite! Since when is one Jewish life or person better than the other. This is about ISRAEL not narrow minded halachah.

  28. Ethan Leifer says:

    I am just embarrassed! Isn't this parade supposed to be for all those who love want to support Israel?

  29. It just a way to undermine the fact that the parade is attended by the modern orthodox and mizrachi.Maybe the rabbinical council of America wants to issue a statment

  30. Eliyahu Fink says:

    The OU has made a statement in an email. They are going to the parade and look forward to marching to salute Israel.

  31. I guess it solves that problem then.

  32. Mem Kruter says:

    FYI Peanut Butter has been banned from most children's schools.

  33. Charlie Hall says:

    Just got an email from the Orthodox Union inviting me to march with the OU at the parade. I guess they don't hold by Rav Belsky?

  34. Jon Katz says:

    There are some Rabbi's in this list who have done some terrible terrible things…..this is a parade about celebrating Israel. Who cares about what peoples beliefs are??? If you want to Salute Israel then show your support regardless

  35. These guys probably don't go to the parade

  36. Asher Suissa says:

    People, people what is wrong with you?? We all agree that there is a Torah, right? You probably all have heard about the 613 mitzvot (commandments), written in the Torah. Roughly half are things you should do, and the other half things you shouldn't (all mixed up together). Well, guess what, the 110th mitzvah is specifically telling us that it is forbidden to be gay! (Literally, don't sleep with another man.) Now these mitzvot were all given to us when God gave us the Torah on Mount Sinai, and the reason we have them is because we accepted to observe them. Those are all facts, nothing made up. Now if you don't agree it is none of your business to go represent our community in a way that is forbidden to us! We wouldn't even know our Jewish values if our ancestors didn't fight to death in the sake of religion and would have given up. And for people that use the typical answer of "I don't understand, try to explain and convince me", as a reminder all Jews said by mount Sinai "we will do, then we will understand". But you know what, I will explain, according to law these people are liable of death penalty by God and by man for a few reasons including desecrating the name of God but feel free to message me for greater details as it would take a full page. This is not open to any stupid argument unless you can come up with facts (online links do not count, especially letters from reform rabbis). Also, no need to say this is "Israel" day parade and it has nothing Jewish because 1) we all know people associate Israel with Jews and 2) the reason people are going there is because they are Jewsih and feel it is their job to represent Israel.

  37. Marc Loeb says:

    Are you knocking the Rabbis? The Jewish Press? Both? The Rabbis are entitled to an opinion just as you are. The truth is there are folks who like to hear their opinion, though they are mostly removed from any participation or involvement. In many ways Just the same as you often commenting/blogging about things that your congregants followers don't need to discuss….

  38. Brilliant answer, Asher, but here's a question for you: There will be groups in this parade that represent Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist congregations and organizations. While the Conservative movement tries to play both sides of the fence, the other two have interpretations of Shabbat observance that is very, very different from what I presume your Orthodox views to be. The Reform movement even permits such horrible things as DRIVING on Shabbat, or using electric devices! As you are well aware, Asher, chillul Shabbat also renders one liable for capital punishment. Is it your recommendation that the non-Orthodox congregations and organizations ALSO be excluded from the parade?

  39. These Rabbis are making such a terrible Chillul Hashem by promoting Sinaas.
    Chinum and inconsistency. They make Orthodoxy look Foolish!

    They don't protest the reform groups marching or even the re-constructionist shulls marching! So full Kfirah in Torah Mi Sinai is not important, but excluding gays who support Israel is? This makes no Hallachic or rational sense.

    Plus, These rabbis do not even march in the parade to begin with! How chutzpadik of them to speak for modern Orthodoxy, when they don't identify with this community.

    The real leaders of Modern Orthodoxy: Rabbi Lichtenstein, Rabbi Riskin, the OU, the RCA, and Yeshiva University all still support the parade and all Jews marching it it.

    Shame on the Jewish Press for printing such a hateful article with no counter article calling for tolerance and support for ALL Jews loving Israel.

    So Come Join the LGBT marching group (Allies are welcome).
    1230 Line UP and free kosher lunch at 54th and Madison.
    2pm Parade jump off at 54th and 5th ave.

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