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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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RCA Statement on Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality

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In the years since the Rabbinical Council of America’s first comment about JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality), “the only Jewish based organization dedicated to assisting individuals with unwanted same sex attractions move from gay to straight” in January, 2004, in which we suggested that rabbis might refer congregants to them for reparative therapy, many concerns about JONAH and reparative therapy have been raised.

As rabbis trained in Jewish law and values, we base our religious positions regarding medical matters on the best research and advice of experts and scholars in those areas, along with concern for the religious, emotional, and physical welfare of those impacted by our decisions. Our responsibility is to apply halakhic (Jewish legal) values to those opinions.

Based on consultation with a wide range of mental health experts and therapists who informed us of the lack of scientifically rigorous studies that support the effectiveness of therapies to change sexual orientation, a review of literature written by experts and major medical and mental health organizations, and based upon reports of the negative and, at times, deleterious consequences to clients of some of the interventions endorsed by JONAH, the Rabbinical Council of America decided in 2011, as part of an overall statement on the Jewish attitude towards homosexuality, to withdraw its original letter referencing JONAH. Despite numerous attempts by the RCA to have mention of that original letter removed from the JONAH website, our calls, letters, and emails remain unanswered. As Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, president of the RCA, stated in 2011, “We want it taken down. JONAH said it was a letter of support, but if you read the letter it is not. They took an informational statement and reprinted it, and the use of that as an endorsement is an error.”

We believe that properly trained mental health professionals who abide by the values and ethics of their professions can and do make a difference in the lives of their patients and clients. The RCA believes that responsible therapists, in partnership with amenable clients, should be able to work on whatever issues those clients voluntarily bring to their session. Allegations made against JONAH lead us to question whether JONAH meets those standards.

Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, Chancellor of Yeshiva University and author of the 1974 Encyclopedia Judaica Year Book article, “Judaism and the Modern Attitude to Homosexuality,” the first contemporary article to address the issue from the perspective of Jewish law and philosophy, had originally commended the work of JONAH. In response to the negative reports about JONAH’s activities and concerns expressed to him by respected mental health professionals, Dr. Lamm withdrew his endorsement of JONAH.

About the RCA:

The Rabbinical Council of America, with national headquarters in New York City, is a professional organization serving more than 1000 Orthodox Rabbis in the United States of America, Canada, Israel, and around the world. Membership is comprised of duly ordained Orthodox Rabbis who serve in positions of the congregational rabbinate, Jewish education, chaplaincies, and other allied fields of Jewish communal work

For further information about this statement, you may contact:

Rabbi Mark Dratch Executive Vice President

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin
President

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4 Responses to “RCA Statement on Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality”

  1. Hillel Levin says:

    Tell me, what good is a statement without a viable suggestion to replace the work of JONAH? The RCA hasn't done a service. They have still left this sad population hanging.

  2. JQY has been helping gay jews from Orthodox backgrounds for almost 12 years. There are more than 600 members, and they work with the JBFCS, local JCC's, Licenced therapists, and many Orthodox Rabbis, including Rabbi Goldin. The message is not to change hallacha, rather to reject shame, learn to love yourself, and be the best person that can be. They are the org that put together the YU panel and the orthodox "it gets better" video, I suggest you look them up.

    I commend the RCA for doing the right thing and protecting our children from blatant exploitation.

  3. I commend the Jewish Press for reporting about the RCA's repudiation of JONAH and conversion therapy as ineffective and harmful.

    I know it was hard to publish an article about an advertiser of the Jewish Press that 1,000 Orthodox Rabbis are saying don't go to JONAH.

    The other story about the lawsuit against JONAH for sexual abuse and false and misleading advertising, that was featured on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, also should be reported here.

    Because the issue for both the RCA and the lawsuit is that JONAH is all about fraud, fraudulent methods, fraudulent advertising, fraudulent therapy, it also would be helpful to expose the background of JONAH's founder and President, Arthur A. Goldberg.

    Here is a portion of Wikpedia's article about his past.

    In the 1980s, Goldberg was well known on Wall Street, earning the nicknames "Abba Dabba Do" and "Abba Cadabra" for his investment skills.[5].
    As Executive Vice President and a major stockholder of Matthews & Wright Inc., a Wall Street investment bank,[6] he orchestrated a massive fraud from 1984 to 1986 in which the firm sold over $2 billion of fraudulent municipal bonds to several cities. The victims were mostly impoverished communities with large minority populations–such as the territory of Guam; East St. Louis, Illinois; East Chicago Heights, Illinois; Chester, Pennsylvania and Sac and Fox Reservation in Oklahoma. Goldberg and his associate, Frederick Mann, netted $11 million in unlawful profits from the scheme.[5][7][8].
    Among the fraudulent bond issues were $300 million in bonds to finance single-family housing projects in Guam, $223 million in bonds to finance a riverfront housing project in East St. Louis and $335 million in bonds to finance a trash plant in Chester. However, none of the projects were ever built because Matthews & Wright underwrote them with worthless checks.[5][7].
    The Philadelphia Inquirer exposed the scam in a series of articles in 1987. In December 1987, a federal grand jury in Guam indicted Goldberg and Mann on 52 counts of bribery, conspiracy and fraud. Soon afterward, federal authorities were forced to transfer the case to the United States District Court for the Central District of California; so many of Guam's residents had been defrauded that it would have been impossible to empanel a jury. He was indicted on separate charges in Illinois soon afterward. [9][5]
    Facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison, in July 1989 Goldberg pleaded guilty in a Los Angeles federal court to three counts of mail fraud. Later that month, he pleaded guilty in an East St. Louis federal court to one count of conspiracy to defraud. In October 1989, Goldberg was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and five years' probation. He was also fined $400,000 (later reduced to $100,000 on appeal). In a separate action, the Securities and Exchange Commission banned Goldberg from the securities industry for life and ordered Matthews & Wright to permanently close its doors.[8][5][10].
    Immediately following his conviction for fraud, Goldberg was suspended from practicing law in New Jersey.[7] He was subsequently disbarred in both New Jersey and Connecticut. Following his conviction, fines, and jail term, Goldberg stopped using his middle name "Abba"; for most of his professional life he had been known as "Arthur Abba Goldberg." Instead, he began calling himself "Arthur A. Goldberg" or simply "Arthur Goldberg.

  4. The RCA statement says " The RCA believes that responsible therapists, in partnership with amenable clients, should be able to work on whatever issues those clients voluntarily bring to their session"

    This means that a person who is uncomfortable with his or her attraction, usually for religious reasons, to the same sex, can find a therapist that will help him or her to find a way to achieve compliance with Torah laws.

    Conversion therapies are completely bogus and no one converts to another orientation.

    So a "responsible therapist" might use a therapy called SIT where a person affirms their religious identity while understanding they will continue to be attracted to the same sex.

    It is not the RCA, but rather the signers of the Torah Declaration, that leave the population of "struglers" hanging.

    They recommend JONAH offering false hope of a cure.

    What happens when someone who goes through this type of therapy for years marries someone of the opposite sex?

    Studies by prominent experts who happen to be Evangelical Christians that were interested in this issue, found out that in time the attraction to the opposite sex partner decreased while attractions to the same sex increased.

    In my opinion building on a false foundation does not help the chances
    of either such marriages or those people who will choose to become celibate to comply with the Torah.

    The Torah Declaration group thought that the 25 people it had as signers of the declaration(25 people who mostly had moved from having sexual relations with the same sex to not having any same sex
    relations with some of the group marrying opposite sex partners)
    proved that conversion therapy works.

    But I believe they achieved their results in spite of not because of quack therapy. I believe they would have as good as or a better chance without believing that they are cured.

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