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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘gay’

Being Gay and Orthodox Gets Really Complicated

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Our recent discussions in the Jewish media of gay marriages and the conflict between being a faithful Jew and being gay reminded me of a really old joke.

A matchmaker comes up to a yeshiva guy, takes him aside and says, “Have I got a shidduch for you!”

“Who?”

“Princes Margaret.”

“What?”

Trust me, she’s just right for you. She’s educated, good looking, smart, good family, money. She’s perfect for you.”

“She’s not Jewish!”

“Nu, nu, so she’s not Jewish. Trust me, for the right man, she’ll convert.”

“This is crazy?”

“Crazy? Did you or did I put together 400 couples, thank God, and not one divorce among them – you tell me it’s crazy? I tell you can’t afford to lose this opportunity!”

And so, for the longest time the yeshiva boy puts up a resistance and the shadchan pushes him back, until, finally, the yeshiva boy gives up and says, “Fine, if Princess Margaret wants to marry me, I’ll marry her.”

And the shadchan sighs deeply, wipes the sweat off his forehead and says, “Now comes the hard part.”

THE NEIGHBOR LOVING THING

Judy Resnick writes in “Hannah Has Two Mommies,” on Beyond Teshuva, a blog “focused on providing ideas, connection and support for Baalei Teshuva in their continuing quest of learning, growing, and giving,” that for years, the Jewish world had its own Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

“Two older men, or two older women, living together for many years: well, that could simply be a financial arrangement. No one asked; no one told. It was no one’s business.”

She continues: “Nowadays, things are different. Men and women declare openly that they are gay Jews, lesbian Jews. What’s more, they want to be recognized by our mosdos, our shuls and our yeshivos and our communities, as openly gay and lesbian Jews. They want also to be Orthodox Jews, seeing no conflict between the gay lifestyle and the Orthodox Jewish lifestyle.”

Concluding with more questions, she writes: “Is Orthodox Judaism a big tent, big enough to include gay and lesbian Jews? Or must we exclude all those individuals who unapologetically and willfully violate an explicit prohibition of the Torah? What about celibate homosexuals and lesbians, those who consider themselves to be gay but do not engage in acts of intimacy? If a known pork eater is not at this moment eating pig meat, is he or she still a sinner?”

Her post is followed by more than 100 comments, from what I’ve seen, mostly the intelligent kind. I recommend a visit, while we here continue to ponder those same qaestions and maybe even offer something of an answer, who knows.

Naaah…

MAKE FUN OF THE FEIGELE

Thank you, Frum Satire’s Heshy Fried, for introducing an intriguing angle on the entire issue of being gay and staying inside the Orthodox fold (or is it under the Orthodox umbrella? Depends on the weather, I guess).

Heshy presents an ostensibly real email from a gay frum man who asks which is better, to date other gay non-Jews or Jews. “On the one hand I have much more in common with other frum guys, on the other hand, I feel bad causing other Jewish guys to sin with me.”

Fabulous question, right?

Now, I’m not sure if Heshy’s entire entry is a routine (some composed with the aid of consciousness expanding substances), or if the question is real and only the stuff that follows is the routine. Regardless, the question still begs an answer.

I remember, years ago, a frum gay friend of ours was in a relationship with another frum guy, an Upper West Sider. We loved having them over, especially since our friend’s friend was so helpful around the kitchen and the dining room table on Shabbat. Man, was he neat. Which is why I was so sad when they broke up and our side of the couple started dating an Asian fellow, who was very nice, but too shy to be of any use with the dishes.

The problem is that the discussion between gay men and the rest of society is almost exclusively about acceptance. This is, in my opinion, why, once gays have come out of the closet, they can’t shut up about how much they deserve to be viewed like everyone else. I understand it. Life as a perpetual outsider even in one’s own family is soul murder. But as a result, the discussion between gay frum Jews and the halachic authorities they approach is the proverbial dialogue between deaf people.

One side just wants to be loved and accepted by their family; the other side fears the sanctioning of a life style which is inherently against the law of our Torah.

Tibbi’s Roundup: If You Knew What’s Going On in my Head You’d Blush

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Not related to the image above which is just my treat to you, the same-sex story reminds me of the joke about a guy sitting in the park, starting a light chat with a young woman. After a while, the conversation kind of dies down and the two drift into silence.

So the young woman says to the young man, What are you thinking about?

So he answers, Probably the same thing you’re thinking about…

So she gets up, says, Never seen such a rude person in my life, and walks away in a huff.

You know what I’m talking about!

GOOD NEWS FIRST

Thank you, Aussie Dave, for this lovely copy and paste, part of which I shall now copy and paste.

First, AD brings a You Tube clip, which is a Boycott Israel package, with the accompanying text: “SodaStream promotes itself as an environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to buying soda. But SodaStream is produced in an illegal settlement on stolen Palestinian land with exploited Palestinian labor. Moreover, Israeli settlement industries regularly dump toxic waste into the land and water of nearby villages.”

Now, enjoy this. If you like, go to Dave’s blog for the BDS clip. It’s fun, I promise.

BDS Fail Of The Day SodaStream International Ltd. surged the most on record in New York after the Israeli maker of soda machines said it will roll out its products at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in the U.S. by the end of May.

SodaStream’s first-quarter profit rose to 55 cents per share in the first quarter from 35 cents a year ago, beating the 44-cent median estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Aussie Dave, Israellycool

LET’S ROUND UP THE GAY MARRIAGE THING, BECAUSE IT’S THERE

For openers, the Jewish Dems were ecstatic:

Jewish Dems Laud Obama’s Support for Marriage Equality “On behalf of NJDC’s board, staff, and membership, I am pleased that the President has made a decisive statement in support of marriage equality,” said NJDC Chair Marc R. Stanley. “From working to end the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy to ending the Federal Government’s defense of the unjust Defense of Marriage Act, this President has demonstrated an unmatched record of progress in favor of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans. President Obama has admirably continued to demonstrate the values of tikkun olam in his work to make America a better place for all Americans. I am truly proud of President Obama and know that so many others in the Jewish community share my feelings.” NJDC Blog

Agudath Israel not so much:

Agudath Israel Statement on Same-Sex Marriage A political group is entitled to its opinion, no less than a president is to his. But to imply that a religious value like “tikkun olam” – and by association, Judaism – is somehow implicated in a position like the one the president articulated, is outrageous, offensive and wrong.

We hereby state, clearly and without qualification, that the Torah forbids homosexual acts, and sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony. Avi Shafran, Cross-Currents

Who would have thunk, savvy political analysis from a blog named Daas Torah…

Obama’s “Evolving” Gay Marriage Position Officially, Obama’s position on marriage equality is “evolving”–a stock phrase intended to buy time until a hypothetical second term. By backing gay marriage, Obama would risk alienating a range of potential supporters — including older, rural populists and conservative black Christians — as well as motivating Evangelicals who remain unenthusiastic about Mitt Romney. As it stands, Obama has the support of same-sex marriage advocates even as his fuzziness frustrates them. Planting himself in the muddled middle may be an optimal political tactic. Daas Torah

Harmony among the world’s major religions over stopping gay marriages:

Vatican Rep Wants Alliance with Jews, Muslims, to Combat Gay Marriage European Catholic leaders are reaching out to other spiritual leaders, including those of the Muslim and Jewish faiths, to possibly form an alliance against the proliferation of marriage equality.

In an address to U.K. Catholic bishops, Archbishop Antonio Mennini echoed the words of Pope Benedict, urging the church to take a leadership position in fighting against marriage rights for same-sex couples, the Telegraph reports. His address comes shortly after several clerics of multiple faiths have spoken out against U.K. Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone, who kicked off an investigation on marriage equality. Malkah Fleisher, The Jewish Press

Dov Bear using Mad Men metaphor to describe his feelings about gay marriages:

Obama Endorses Same-Sex Marriage; Rabbis Debate Homosexuality

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

President Obama on Wednesday went on the record with a statement that he now supports same-sex marriage, a reversal of his longstanding opposition. Obama’s announcement followed months of pressure from his Democratic base, his staff, openly gay and lesbian service members, Vice President Joe Biden, and his wife and two daughters.

In an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, which was excerpted on “World News with Diane Sawyer” and will appear on “Good Morning America” Thursday, the president said, “When I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

The president went out of his way to emphasize that this is only his personal position, which he had reached through a process of “evolution,” and that he still believes each state should decide the issue on its own.

He did not say what would be the role of the federal government in cases where one state refused to recognize the same-sex marriage status sanctioned by another.

Instead, the president said he was confident that more Americans would grow comfortable with gays and lesbians getting married, citing his own daughters’ comfort with the concept.

“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” the president mused. “You know when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same sex equality or, you know, sexual orientation, that they believe in equality. They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”

The president’s statement followed Vice President Biden’s own endorsement of gay marriage on Sunday, on “Meet the Press,” saying he is “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriages.

Obama aides say the president and his vice president are in complete agreement on legal rights for gay couples, but the announcement represents a turnabout for the president, who has opposed gay marriage since 1996, when, as a candidate for the Illinois state Senate , he indicated support for gay marriage in a questionnaire, but his aides later denied it was his official position.

In 2004, running for the US Senate, Obama stated: “I’m a Christian. I do believe that tradition and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”

Presidential candidate Obama maintained that position throughout his 2008 campaign, and through his term as president, until Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, and the sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which was intended to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), praised President Obama for his change of mind. Nadler’s statement acknowledged the magnitude of the event:

“For the first time in this nation’s history, a sitting president has shown the courage and leadership to stand up for all American families by pledging to support the fundamental right of every person to marry the person they love, and to have that marriage fully respected.”

Nadler added that “the course toward marriage equality and justice is the correct and inevitable path.”

Despite the firm opposition of the vast majority of Orthodox authorities to gay marriages, there have been cracks in that wall.

Orthodox-ordained Rabbi Steve Greenberg officiated at a same-sex wedding ceremony in DC.

Orthodox-ordained Rabbi Steve Greenberg officiated at a same-sex wedding ceremony in Washington, DC.

In November, 2011, in Washington DC’s “Historic 6th and I Synagogue,” openly-gay, Orthodox-ordained Rabbi Steve Greenberg officiated at a same-sex wedding ceremony.

The radical left-wing website +972 described the event with more than a little poetic flair:

“Greenberg stood under the chupah, a traditional Jewish wedding canopy, as newlyweds Yoni Bock and Ron Kaplan tied the knot before some two-hundred guests. Recognizing the unique – and controversial – moment, Greenberg’s voice notably cracked when near the end he stated, ‘By the power invested in me by the District of Columbia, I now pronounce you married.’”

Israel is Theme of Gay Conference

Monday, May 7th, 2012

A major annual US gay conference will feature Israel and its gay community this year.

The Equality Forum’s four-day event in Philadelphia, ending Sunday, featured Israeli gay performers, activists, and Israeli ambassador Michael Oren.  Each year, the conference chooses another country as its theme.

Gaycities.com rated Israel the top Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual travel destination of 2011.

Vatican Rep Wants Alliance With Jews, Muslims, to Combat Gay Marriage

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

A Vatican representative has issued a call for the world’s foremost religions to unite to take a stand against gay marriage.

Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the “Apostolic Nuncio” (Vatican representative) to Great Britain has proposed enlisting the help of all Christian denominations, as well as Jews and Muslims, to oppose the proposition of legalizing gay marriage in England.

In an address to Catholic bishops from England and Wales, Mennini warned against political and cultural influences forcing reforms on religion, and suggested an alliance with Jews and Muslims in order to combat the immorality of homosexual marriage.

“It seems to me that, concerning the institution of marriage, and indeed the sanctity of human life, we have much in common with the position of the Jewish community, the Chief Rabbi and many of the more significant representatives of Islam,” the Archbishop said, according to a report in Britains’s Telegraph newspaper.

Local Quakers, Buddhists, and members of the Pagan Federation have already publicly supported the right of religious leaders to decline to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, although their position supports basic freedom of clergy members to reject or support the marriages.

Mennini’s comments come after a series of high-level discussions between Muslim and Jewish leaders and Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone, who is investigating the possibility of legalizing gay marriage in the UK.

For now, English and Scottish Muslim groups, imams, and councils have opposed the plan to legalize gay marriage, as has the head of the Network of Sikh Organisations.

Liberal and Reform synagogues, on the other hand, have expressed support for same-sex marriages.  Rabbis in the main United Synagogues have come out against the proposal.  Soon-to-be-retired Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has not come out publicly against the measure, but friend and advisor Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of Mill Hill United Synagogue in north London called the potential legislation an “assault” on religious values.

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark told the Telegraph that while no official contact has yet been made between the Catholic Church and Jewish groups, “We will work with anyone who agrees with us that to redefine marriage is not a good thing for society and will lead to more confusion.”  He added that the Church of England is onboard with the Catholic Church’s position.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Savaging the Bible Over Homosexuality

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

I am saddened that Richard Grennell, Mitt Romney’s foreign policy spokesman, resigned over what the press is saying was pressure from the far right because he is openly gay. Who cares? He had a distinguished career as a spokesman for four United Nations Ambassadors and was widely respected. It is particularly disconcerting to learn that religious groups criticized Romney for appointing him due to his homosexuality.

As an orthodox Rabbi with a gay orthodox Jewish brother, I have endeavored mightily to reconcile the dictates of my faith with the most human, loving, and respectful approach to homosexuality. I have counseled hundreds of gay men and women of faith who seek to find their place in God’s love amid a gay lifestyle.

But such efforts at reconciliation are undone by the gratuitous hate-filled bigotry of people like Dan Savage whose response to prejudice against gays is to offer insulting and degrading prejudices against religion. Just what Savage felt he was accomplishing by irresponsibly using obscenities about the Bible at a journalism conference for High School students is beyond me. But what I do know is that the answers to homosexuality and faith do not lie either with religious haters like Fred Phelps who insult God by hating gays, nor with secular fanatics like Dan Savage who insult homosexuals by falsely portraying them as angry bigots.

Everywhere we look today we find fanatics. So often we blame religion for all the extremists. But there are plenty of secular fanatics as well. From Savage’s offensive attack against the Bible and religion in front of High School students, he appears to be one of them. I am prepared to accept that he has been misportrayed. But then let him retract and apologize for his remarks.

The Bible he assails is responsible for Western society’s most cherished values. It has given us the Ten Commandments, and thus morality. The belief that every human being is created in the image of God, and thus the infinite worth of the individual person. The crushing of Egyptian tyranny and thus the insistence that despots must be deposed. The Messianic idea of directional history and thus the ideal of human progress.

That does not mean that there aren’t aspects of the Bible that people will find unacceptable or objectionable. They have every right to disagree. But doing so while respecting people of faith is the way of the gentleman.

Once, I was sitting with my brother at a kosher restaurant in Manhattan when a religious man walked over and told me I was a dog. I asked him why the insult? He said because he read about how I defend homosexuals in the Jewish community. Ironically, he had no idea that my brother was sitting at the table with me. I thought to myself, “If I’m one step removed and I get attacked like this, how much hatred has my brother endured? How many times has he heard things like this?”

Do we gain anything by having the Dan Savages of this world demonstrate that they can give as good as they get? If Savage savages the Bible, has he struck a blow for his gay brethren, or has he just inflamed the discourse?

I receive a steady stream of sad and tragic emails from gay orthodox Jewish men and women who speak of their desire to be dead, or worse, to take their own lives. They have few to whom they can turn. They wonder how they can accept their natural sexual feelings amid their commitment to their faith. But they are committed to faith. They’re not looking to detach but rather to fit in. They do not identify with religion haters like Dan Savage because they love their religion. They are simply looking for their place within their faith and they are devastated to feel condemned by their own communities.

There is no question that we need a new religious approach to Biblical approach to homosexuality. I suggest this.

The Bible consists of 613 commandments, one of which is for a man to marry and have children, and the other is for a man to avoid gay sex with another man. That leaves 611 commandments for gay men to observe. That should keep them pretty busy. Homosexuality should be treated like lighting fire on the Sabbath or eating non-kosher foods, both Biblical prohibitions. Eating shellfish carries the same appellation of ‘abomination’ as homosexuality.’ Moreover, as I have written at length elsewhere the prohibition of homosexuality is not a moral sin but a religious sin, akin to, say, eating on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, as there is no injured innocent party.

Why we have all chosen homosexuality as the worst sin in the Bible, going so far as to distance homosexuals from their own faith, is beyond me. Some say the reason is because of the word ‘abomination.’ Little do they realize the word appears 104 times in the Bible, as I wrote in a recent column analyzing the word and its usage in the Bible. So there are human approaches to homosexuality that seek to reconcile gay men and women of faith and the Bible. Savage’s attacks on the Bible are utterly unhelpful.

Conservatives to Ordain Gay and Lesbian Rabbis in Israel

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

The Board of Trustees of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary voted Thursday night to accept gay and lesbian students for ordination beginning in the next academic year.

Affiliated with the “Masorti” movement in Israel and with the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Schechter trains educational and spiritual, non-Orthodox leaders for positions in Israel.

“The Schechter Rabbinical Seminary views the serious process leading to this decision as an example of confronting social dilemmas within the framework of tradition and halachah,” Hanan Alexander, chair of the seminary’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “This decision highlights the institution’s commitment to uphold halachah in a pluralist and changing world.”

Students are ordained by a rabbinical court, made up of three members of the Rabbinic Advisory Committee of the seminary, all of whom are members of the Rabbinical Assembly of the Masorti/Conservative movement. The court members are chosen by the candidate and subject to the approval of the seminary’s dean. They have different opinions regarding the ordination of gay and lesbian students, according to the seminary.

“This unique mechanism is an expression of halachic pluralism, one of the founding principles of SRS,” the seminary said in its statement. “The Seminary is a religious institution of the Masorti/Conservative Movement, bound by Halacha, whose inclusive approach allows for a variety of Halachic opinions.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/religious-secular-in-israel/conservatives-to-ordain-gay-and-lesbian-rabbis-in-israel/2012/04/19/

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