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Angry Mom Responds to Letter Writer

Something about an organization that wants to make life better for Orthodox LGBT people makes you feel uncomfortable. I am not sure why, but it is obvious that their very presence threatens you in a way that you probably can’t even explain yourself.
2013 Israel Day Parade in New York City.

2013 Israel Day Parade in New York City.
Photo Credit: Flash 90

Letters to the Editor of the print version of The Jewish Press appear on the JewishPress.com site.  This week a letter from a reader appeared (see pages 2 and 3), in response to which the mother of a gay teenager wrote a letter in the form of an op-ed. That mother asked that her name be withheld. This is what she wrote:

Dear Mr. Goldstein,

First, I want to thank you for publicizing the wonderful organization that is JQY or Jewish Queer Youth. I am an Orthodox mother of a 15 year old gay son and JQY has been an invaluable resource to me and my son since he came out to our family about 6 months ago. Prior to connecting with JQY and Eshel (another fantastic organization for Orthodox LGBT people) our family felt so alone.

In your letter you referred to JQY as an “openly immoral group.” I have to say, this concerned me. I have met several of the JQY leaders and they never struck me as “openly immoral.” But you said the organization marched in the parade with blatantly offensive banners last year. So I decided to look at JQY’s website to see how this organization promotes open immorality in a blatantly offensive way.

Here’s what I found when I went to JQY’s website. The first thing I noticed was a large printed, “Jewish? Orthodox? Gay? You are not alone! Welcome to JQY!” That doesn’t seem too blatantly offensive or immoral but I guessed that I probably had to look a little closer on the page. Based on what you said, the mission must promote an obviously immoral lifestyle. Here’s what the mission of JQY is:

Our mission is to address the unique needs of LGBT frum* and formerly frum Jews. JQY is dedicated to cultivating a Jewish community where no one feels alone, bullied or silenced because of their orientation or gender identity. Special attention is given to youth, young adults and their families; however we have programs for all ages.

Wait a minute. There is nothing immoral in that mission statement. It almost seems…helpful to people who are in the Orthodox Community and who are LGBT and need support. Now I was confused. I figured the pictures that make up the top and bottom banners of the page must be suggestive or immodest.  But all I saw in these pictures are smiling groups of people who look comfortable, proud and most importantly, not alone.

I searched some more and found links to support groups, crisis resources, holiday and shabbat meals, an open Beit Medrash, Mental Health outreach, and speaker training programs. I kept searching for the offensiveness you spoke of in your letter.

Luckily, right before I left the page in despair that I would never be made privy to what was so hurtful to you, I finally found the blatantly offensive propaganda that you think JQY is spewing. About three quarters of the way down the page in bold yellow typeface, there is a statement that says “We are in every Yeshiva!”

Wow. Imagine my feelings when I saw that. That an organization which says it is trying to help Orthodox (and formerly Orthodox) LGBT people could say such a thing. I mean, sure. Statistics tell us that there is likely at least one LGBT person in every extended Orthodox family. But to say that there is an LGBT person in every Yeshiva?

Mr. Goldstein, I applaud you for bringing this to my attention. Because now I can speak to my son honestly and openly and I can tell him, “You’re not alone.” I can assure him that even though he feels like life is an uphill battle and even though so many people in the Orthodox community in which he was raised won’t accept him for who he is and will only think of him in terms of what will or won’t go on in his bedroom when he is older, he is not alone. There are kids like him in every Yeshiva, every Day School, and even every Bais Yaakov across the country. He can rest assured that he has the power to make someone else who might be feeling lonely, depressed, isolated, or even – G-d forbid – suicidal, feel just a little better by telling them that they are not alone.

He can make them aware of the JQY teen support phone calls and email lists that he is part of. He can tell them about the Jewish, but not-orthodox shabbaton for LGBT kids that he went on that a JQY staff member attended just to give support to the Orthodox kids there. He can tell these kids that when they’re ready to

come out to their parents, JQY has a support group called Temicha for Orthodox Parents of LGBT kids.

Mr. Goldstein, I get it. Something about an organization that wants to make life better for Orthodox LGBT people makes you feel uncomfortable. I am not sure why, but it is obvious that their very presence threatens you in a way that you probably can’t even explain yourself. Therefore, you have rallied to exclude this group from supporting their homeland, using the Torah as an excuse. But please know that is all it is. An excuse to be at best exclusionary and at worst hateful and homophobic.

Schools that march in the parade that JQY marches in are not “legitimizing homosexual behavior.” They are supporting Israel and recognizing that there is a group amongst them that happens to offer incredible support and love to Jews who might not always feel support and love from the greater community. This group happens to support Israel as well. Nothing else.

I don’t assume that my letter will change your mind. It’s made up already. But maybe someone else will read it and realize that what you are proposing is not only hurtful but hateful as well. And maybe someone else will see this letter and reach out to JQY and life will be a little better for him or her in the future because of it.

-A Proud Mom

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12 Responses to “Angry Mom Responds to Letter Writer”

  1. Ronnie Pleet says:

    Goldstein is a sick,stupid,disgrace of a sub human being.he should be removed from ever writing for any media forever

  2. So they can’t have an opinion because you disagree with them? We are allowed to have a difference of opinion and the forum, I presume, is open to you too. If you have a problem with something someone said, that’s YOUR problem.

  3. Kim Sloan says:

    WOW what a fantastic article! For a Jew not to show support is horrible, but here you have many LGBT people showing support for Israel, regardless of their sexual orientation it makes no difference. I applaud this mother, her son, and others who put up with the ignorance of homophobia! The sick part is that I believe there is no superiority in being Jewish. Just because you are Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform, or even a Messianic Jew doesn’t make you any less in G-d’s eyes! We are all equal! It is the individual who seeks out spirituality, and it is never the given right of a community to judge who is a better Jew! Such a shanda on Goldstein, and his shaming of supporters for Israel!

  4. David Blatt says:

    Kol HaKavod to the Mom. Mr. Goldstein is a disgrace.

  5. I like this ,,I would walk with them if I was there!!!

  6. AMEIN!!! “Schools that march in the parade that JQY marches in are not “legitimizing homosexual behavior.” They are supporting Israel and recognizing that there is a group amongst them that happens to offer incredible support and love to Jews who might not always feel support and love from the greater community. This group happens to support Israel as well. Nothing else.”

  7. Ira Abramson says:

    What does sexual orientation have to do with supporting a cause? Remember the expression “There but for the Grace of G-D go I”

  8. We should ignore chukim altogether! What does sexual behavior have to do with being a Jew!!!
    Oh wait….
    I guess we should ignore our Sages too!
    What did they know!!!
    Oh wait…
    I guess we should ignore the Torah as well.
    Yeah!
    What does our Torah and Sages have to do with supporting a Jewish nation!!!
    Wooo whooooooo!!!!

  9. Has anyone actually gone to this website and read their FAQ page?
    It is the antithesis of what our Sages and Torah has taught us!
    Should people who have homosexual tendencies be accepted into a Torah community?
    Absolutely
    Should they be shown love and respect?
    Absolutely
    Should there be organizations that promote the open acceptance of such a lifestyle choice and defend such practices under the banner of “love and patience”?
    Absolutely not.

  10. Sientje Seinen says:

    Goldstein at least knows the Lord G-d of Israel, do You?

  11. Yechiel Baum says:

    Consider the Irish and their gays, Personally I do not care ioif the Irish are gay and if they march since sexual orientation is individual and does not need to flaunted. Otherwise, lets have a parade every day for every men who has a successful sexual experience with their mate. Do I care what goes on in your bedroom that it needs to be the topic of discussion around the family table that includes kids.

    WIll the next new group to want to march contains float with a man banging his mate so the wolrd can see what depravity this conversation is all about. If they want sexual publicity, we are exposed to it by the activities in the white house in every country causing schools to teach sex ed.

    In conclusion, I do not want to read, see, or know about your sexual activity and you have no business in mine. The focus o the parade is to be on the accomplishments of the State of Israel and the Jews and our heritage and not about our sexual exploits.

    Stop wasting MY VALUABLE time reading about what YOU want to do sexually and stop wasting Jewish money to do this useless publicity since people crying for publicity are really crying for mental help from loneliness.

  12. The letter I sent to the Jewish Press to which this mother responded was the only letter I wrote this year concerning the parade and JQY. Last year, there was a much longer series of letters, including exchanges with many yeshivot and Orthodox organizations. Versions of these appear on different websites and can be readily accessed via search engines.
    The common response these days to a letter like mine is to dismiss the writer as narrow-minded or bigoted. In fact, this is the preferred tactic today among those who promote same-sex marriage. Those who do not agree are termed bigots, so that our view — the traditional view of the Judeo-Christian ethos — is dismissed out of hand.
    And therefore, much as what I say will likely be ignored by you, let me assure you, proud mom, that I am not motivated by personal bigotry. I am motivated by the fact that JQY is using the parade to advance its agenda: that homosexual conduct is a legitimate expression of sexuality. Twenty years ago, a similar group attempted to march under its own banner. At the time, the yeshivot threatened to leave the parade, and the parade organizers backed down.
    Today, unfortunately, the atmosphere has been poisoned by a decades-long campaign to reframe homosexual conduct as equivalent to heterosexual conduct in moral terms. Well, proud mom, the fact is that Judaism does not consider the two to be equivalent. Homosexual conduct (at least male conduct) is termed by the Torah an "abomination." Moreover, the Torah states explicitly that such conduct can, God forbid, cause the land to spit us out. How, then, can we be comfortable with a parade that seems to endorse such conduct as legitimate? Isn't the purpose of the parade to help Israel? How does this help Israel?
    When I ran this campaign last year, proud mom, I can tell you that most (not all) of the yeshiva principals and rabbis with whom I interacted agreed with me in principle. Many agreed in practice as well: that is, they believed that their schools should not march in the parade if JQY were included. The question was sent to a highly regarded rav at Yeshiva University and was addressed at a day-school principals' meeting called for this specific purpose.
    In the end, the yeshivot marched, but the parade was forced to warn JQY not to use offensive signage, and JQY did comply.
    All this, proud mom, has nothing to do with bigotry. It has to do with fealty to Torah and to a bedrock of society: when sexual morality falls apart, so does society.
    I fully agree with you that gay youths (whether through orientation or preference) should have a place to turn where they can gain a sympathetic ear. I fully agree that support must be available to them. But this cannot be in a context that legitimizes the behavior: at least not if it is to have the imprimatur of Orthodox Judaism.
    And of course gay youths should be welcome to march in the parade, but they should not be permitted to do so as a separate group. Rather, they should march as part of one of the other groups that marches.
    The parade, of course, is free to include whichever groups it desires to include. But it should exclude groups whose very reason for marching with their own banner is to express a view that is irrelevant to the core issue of supporting Israel. And if JQY marches, then the yeshivot should recognize that their participation amounts to a legitimation of homosexual conduct.

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2013 Israel Day Parade in New York City.

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