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Is This Something To Parade About?


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I am writing to you from Jerusalem. My family and I made aliyah 15 years ago. One of the reasons why we took this step was because we wanted our children to be raised and nurtured in the holy air of Jerusalem, in a Torah atmosphere, and above all, to share in the incredible return of our people to the land.

Much has changed during this period. Today, in our beautiful holy city, we live in constant fear. Every day, I send my children off to school with the prayer that HaShem watch them and grant them a safe return. I worry, each and every moment, for the life of my husband, who has no choice but to go to work every day by bus. With it all, however, I don’t for a single moment regret our decision to make aliyah, and I thank G-d every day for having granted us the privilege of living here – this, despite the fact that my sister was the victim of a terrorist attack which left her handicapped and with constant headaches. But she, too, will tell you that she would never consider leaving Jerusalem. Life has not been easy, but we love it here, and as much as we live with fear, we have faith that HaShem will protect us.

I am writing to you, at this time, in reference to a story which appeared in the 10/05/03 issue of The Jerusalem Post, which disturbed me no end. I am referring to the impending International Gay Festival and World Parade, with its hundred of thousands of revelers, that is scheduled to be held in Jerusalem two years hence. That such a parade could be planned for
Jerusalem is a colossal desecration of HaShem’s Holy Name, and it is outrageous that not one of our elected officials has seen fit to speak up. The newspapers reported that when questioned, the spokesperson for Mayor Lupolianski (who is our city’s first Haredi mayor) stated that “this is a police matter and not a municipal decision”. The Jerusalem police
spokeswoman also skirted the issue, saying that ” the police only provide the security permits for such events and that it is way too early to even discuss the planned parade. The last such international parade, which took place in Rome in the year 2000, saw about half a million participants, so you can imagine the Chilul HaShem that something like this could entail.
I cannot believe that such a desecration of G-d’s Name, would be even considered for our holy city. As menacing as the constant threats from the Arabs are, the possibility of a gay parade is even more frightening. Surely the mayor realizes that according to our Torah, homosexuality is one of those sinful abominations which can lead to disgorging the inhabitants from the land” (Leviticus 18). How then can he remain silent?

Whoever I have tried to discuss this subject with has told me that we residents of Jerusalem have enough on our plates right now and shouldn’t waste time worrying about things that may or may not happen two years down the road.

While this argument is not without merit, I am also a firm believer in preventive medicine. A battle waged at the 11th hour, when the event is imminent, can become very ugly and fierce. The time to act is now, before things get out of control. Since no one here seems to be alarmed, I thought that I would write to you. If you would comment on this subject, your
readers would be inspired to write to the mayor and to the various elected officials of the Municipality of Jerusalem, as well as to the elected officials of the Knesset, it might just make an impact and avert disaster.

My dear friend:

I am in full accord – there is nothing like preventive medicine, and while two years is a long
period of time - especially nowadays when there is so much volatility in the world and you never know what will happen from one moment to another - we nevertheless have an obligation to raise our voices in protest. The very possibility of such a desecration taking place in Jerusalem if left unchallenged, places a blight on all of us.

To be sure, in our 21st century liberal climate, to speak out against such an event would, in many circles be regarded as politically incorrect. Many who have raised their voices have been vilified, and accused of bigotry and archaism. Our Torah laws however, are not subject to majority consensus or that which is in vogue. “Like the doings of the land of Egypt where you dwelt, you shall not do; like the doings of the land of Canaan, wither I bring you, you
shall not do. Neither shall you walk in their statutes…” - meaning that we are not to emulate the lifestyles of the nations among whom we live. It’s one thing when such aberational behavior is celebrated in Rome, New York, or Paris, but it’s something else again when the holy city of Jerusalem becomes the setting.

Even if the entire world regards homosexuality as a viable life option, we Jews live by a different code of rules. Our standards of morality emanate from our Torah, and not from that which is in vogue. Phrases such as “meaningful relationships”, “moral relativism”, “majority consensus” or “consensual relationships between adults” cannot suspend our laws. The Word of G-d stands eternally and calls upon man to temper his passions and live in sanctity.

There is nothing new about our society’s endorsement of homosexuality. Such endorsements were prevalent throughout history. It was rampant among the generation which preceded the flood. It was the accepted way of life in Sodom (hence the word “sodomy”); it was rife among the Canaanite pagans as well as in many ancient civilizations including Rome and Greece, but throughout, we clung to our Torah even when we were mocked and persecuted for doing so.

In time, much of our Torah’s moral code became the guiding light of Western civilization and served as a moral compass to distinguish between right and wrong. Thus, if an individual deviated from that code, he was aware that he was in violation of G-d’s commandments and there was hope that, one day, he would summon the spiritual stamina to return.

All this altered in the 60s when laws regulating moral conduct collapsed and everything became permissible. This “new morality” was accepted by all segments of society and became so all-pervasive that people feared voicing their protests. To free themselves from feelings of guilt, they enlisted clergy to endorse that which G-d forbade. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why Jerusalem represents such an attractive venue for organizers of a gay parade. But
even as no amount of blessing can render pork kosher, so too, no matter how many gay people gather in Jerusalem, Torah Laws cannot be altered. It is we who must bend our will to that of our Creator and not the reverse, and even if we regard G-d’s Laws as repressive, we must nevertheless learn to master our impulses.

We live in a chaotic, morally turbulent world – each and every one of us is in need of G-d’s compassion and forgiveness – and that is how we must relate to one another if we are to resolve this issue and invoke G-d’s mercy. But it is one thing when an individual succumbs to the weakness of his flesh and something else again when he pronounces G-d’s commandments
obsolete and publically celebrates and parades his transgressions in G-d’s holy city of Jerusalem.

May I suggest that we all unite in preparing for the real celebration - the real parade, and that is that long awaited day when we will behold the fulfillment of the prophecy: “Out of Zion shall go forth the Torah and the Word of G-d from Jerusalem.” That will be a parade worthy of G-d’s Holy City and G-d’s Holy flock.

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