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June 29, 2016 / 23 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘LGBT’

Orthodox Shul Will Keep LGBT Shabbaton Despite Neighborhood Rabbis’ Objection

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

The members of the Stanton Street Shul community on Thursday night received an email from their board announcing that the inclusive event of hosting Orthodox LGBT in an Eshel Downtown Shabbaton. This despite a warning letter from neighborhood Orthodox rabbis who declared that “No Jewish institution that allies itself with such a group can rightfully claim to be Orthodox.” (See: Lower East Side Rabbis Hint at Excommunicating Orthodox Shul for LGBT Shabbaton)

The Stanton Street Shul board wrote: “We want to take this opportunity to affirm our commitment to hosting the Eshel Shabbaton this Shabbat and to being an Orthodox shul where all Jews can feel safe praying, learning Torah, and finding fellowship with each other — a place where all are welcome and all feel welcome. We are proud of our members, our rabbi, and the Sixth Street Community Synagogue for fostering the kind of inclusive community that respects the dignity of all people, recognizing that we are all created b’tzelem Elokim, in God’s image.

“We encourage you to show your support by coming to shul this Shabbat for services and for the Shabbaton programming, and we welcome your feedback, questions, and notes of support.”

However, the Stanton Street Shul website’s page announcing the Eshel Shabbaton has been removed.

For its part, the Eshel organization, whose mission is to integrate Orthodox LGBT in the community, started a petition online titled: Support Rabbi Bodner and Rabbi Bellino (the spiritual leaders of the Stanton and Sixth Streets shuls). The petition reads:

“Dear Rabbi Bodner and Rabbi Bellino,

“We are Orthodox LGBTQ Jews, parents and family members of LGBTQ Jews, and allies. We believe in inclusive Orthodox communities that welcome LGBTQ Jews and their families.

“We are disheartened to learn that both of you have been attacked for hosting Eshel in your synagogues. However, we want both of you, and your synagogue members, to know how much we support you and appreciate your efforts on our behalf.

“We thank you, Rabbi Bodner and Rabbi Bellino, for giving us hope with your commitment to Hachnasat Orchim (welcoming guests). We thank the leadership and membership of both synagogues for agreeing to host us. You are a model for what warm, compassionate, and inclusive leadership should be.”

As of Friday morning, the petition has received 259 signatures.

In our original story, JNi.media referred to the local Lower East Side rabbis’ letter as hinting excommunication of the “erring” shul. But in the reality of a diminishing Orthodox Jewish presence on the Lower East Side, which comes with the weakening of the Orthodox “establishment” in the neighborhood, it’s hard to imagine what steps the local rabbis might take to make good on such a threat. The relationship between the shul and the neighborhood Orthodox leadership (as opposed to the neighborhood rank and file Orthodox Jews) has always been tense, with the Haredi leaders being critical of the Stanton Street Shul’s egalitarian policy regarding women (the shul maintains women’s minyanim several times a year; shul women dance with the Torah on Simchat Torah; the shul invites women scholars in residence for Shabbat lectures). The dispute over the LGBT Shabbaton may just fizzle away without any tangible negative consequences. At the same time, as has been expressed several times in online debates over the story Thursday, there’s also little chance of an honest dialog between the Stanton Street Shul community and the neighborhood rabbis over the serious issues facing the declining Orthodox community on the Lower East Side.

JNi.Media

Lower East Side Rabbis Hint at Excommunicating Orthodox Shul for LGBT Shabbaton

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

If things go according to plans, the Stanton Street Shul, which has been hosting Jewish worshipers on the Lower East Side since 1913, will be participating in the Eshel Downtown Shabbaton this coming Shabbat. According to the shul’s email, received by JNi.media, Eshel’s mission since 2010 has been to create community and acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jews and their families in Orthodox communities. The theme of the Shabbaton is Creating Welcoming Communities.

This event has been denounced in benign but clear language by local Orthodox rabbis, and as things stand, should the Shabbaton take place, the Stanton stands to be cut off from the mainstream Orthodox community, with possibly devastating consequences.

A later email from the shul reflected the discomfort some congregants may have felt regarding the Shabbaton. It read: “In preparation for the Shabbat, we would like to invite you to an open forum tonight, May 31st at 7:30 PM at the Stanton Street Shul on the topic of ‘Why we are hosting the Eshel Shabbaton.’ At this time, we will hear from [shul Rabbi] Rabbi [Aviad] Bodner what the goals of the Shabbaton are and why we are hosting it. This will be an opportunity to express support, voice concerns, and ask questions.”

Although many of its regulars reside in the Grand Street Co-Ops near the East River in downtown Manhattan, and are part of the Orthodox community there, the Stanton Street Shul since the 1990s has charted a somewhat different path than the largely Haredi community south of the Williamsburg Bridge. The Stanton is located north of the bridge, in the hip/Hispanic community of Alphabet City (named after its north-south Avenues A, B, C, and D). As such, the Stanton, which at some point was salvaged by its congregants from being sold and converted into a church, caters to the unaffiliated Jews scattered in the neighborhood. On the high holidays and on a few other key dates during the Jewish year, the Stanton is packed with Jews, from Israeli NYU students to fallen Hasidim, to secular folks who miss that bit of traditional sweetness in their lives.

Needles to say, the Stanton Street Shul has also been more accepting and tolerant than most. Shabbat morning services often start at 10:30, Friday night kiddush includes a sampling of quality whiskeys, and the congregation has integrated several gay and transgender members with the kind of ease one doesn’t easily find outside New York City and Tel Aviv. The LGBT Shabbaton was another step in that direction of affiliating the shul more with uptown than with the Lower East Side.

On its website, Eshel writes that “through community gatherings Eshel helps LGBT Orthodox people pursue meaningful lives that encompass seemingly disparate identities while also fulfilling Jewish values around family, education, culture, and spirituality.” On that part, regarding the definition of Jewish values through the spectrum of the LGBT lifestyle, the Stanton Street Shul received its stern rebuke from the local rabbis.

The signatories at the bottom of a letter titled “An important Message to the Community” are well known beyond the Lower East Side: Rabbis David and Reuven Feinstein, the sons and spiritual heirs of the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the universally accepted halakhic authority in North America; Rabbi Yeshaya Siff, of the Young Israel of Manhattan, possibly the sweetest and easiest going man of the cloth in downtown Manhattan; his son, Rabbi Azriel Siff, whose Chasam Sofer synagogue stands next door to the Stanton, but is well to the right of its hipster neighbor; and Rabbi Zvi Dovid Romm, whose Bialystoker synagogue hosts the largest congregation this side of 42nd Street.

“All Jews, whatever their challenges or levels of observance, are welcome in all of our shuls,” write the exulted rabbis. And they’re right, for an ultra-Orthodox community, the Lower East Side is probably the most open and accepting on the planet. Some have suggested that the reason for the sense of comfort that is so typical of this community has to do with the nature of the co-op apartments: everybody in the neighborhood is living in the same Soviet-style, square, low-ceilinged apartments — there are no secrets, no really rich and really poor. Things may have changed since privatization, people have been buying up and connecting strings of apartments, but the community is still humbler than most. But we digress.

“However, the basic mandate of the Orthodox synagogue is to promote fidelity to our Torah and our mesorah,” the letter continues. “Sadly, Eshel demands that we change the Torah’s timeless standards to accord with prevalent secular attitudes.”

Notice how instead of saying they’re furious, the rabbis stress their sadness, many times: “We are saddened that the Stanton Street Shul and the Sixth Street Community Synagogue have unilaterally chosen to associate our community with an organization which we cannot consider to be Orthodox, one whose stated aims are at odds with the verses of the Torah itself.”

Next, the rabbis deliver the only threatening line in their letter. It may not sound like one, but it’s a herem, an excommunication, as unmistaken as the herem that was imposed on Baruch Spinoza and Uriel da Costa in 1656 by the Amsterdam rabbinical court: “No Jewish institution that allies itself with such a group can rightfully claim to be Orthodox.”

That’s heavy. It means that many of the committed Orthodox members of both shuls, who preferred them over the Grand Street shuls for a variety of political and emotional reasons, are likely to leave. Excommunication is serious stuff. The letter calls on both shuls to disassociate themselves from the Eshel group and cancel the Shabbaton. We’ll keep you posted, if we can.

JNi.Media

Lebanese LGBT Activists Protest Anti-Homosexual Law

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Perhaps it’s a sign that Lebanon has become safer and more Western-oriented: a group of about 50 LGBT activists from the Lebanon-based Helem association, for the first time in four years staged a sit-in outside the Hbeish police station in Beirut, where the “morality police” hold transgressors of article 534 in the penal code which criminalizes relations that are “against nature,” Naharnet reported. The protesters demanded that the law be revoked, and that four transgender women be released. They carried signs saying, “Homosexuality is not a disease,” “Sex is not illegal — your law is archaic,” and “Repeal 534.”

The punishment in Lebanon for “crimes against nature” is up to one year in prison.

An event that was scheduled to follow the demonstration, organized by Proud Lebanon, was canceled due to pressure from Christian religious authorities.

Helem leader Genwa Samhat told AFP that the sit-in, which took place two days before the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, “calls for the abolition of this section of law dating from the (1920-1943) French mandate in Lebanon.” She added: “Most people arrested under this law aren’t detained in the act but in the street because of their appearance.” Also, she said, people “continue to be fired if their boss finds out they’re gay. They’re made to say they quit voluntarily for fear of being outed.”

According to Naharnet, Lebanese police are known to raid nightclubs serving homosexual patrons, and homosexuality is a frequent subject of ridicule on television.

In 2012 dozens demonstrated outside a Beirut court to protest the use of an anal “test” for suspected gay men. According to Samhat, “these tests continue, despite the justice ministry asking police to stop the practice. This is humiliating.” Also, she noted that “arrested people are still screened for AIDS, while this should be voluntary. There is a preconceived idea that all homosexuals have AIDS.”

Just to compare, the Boston Globe recently wrote that Tel Aviv, only 130 miles south of Beirut, is the gayest city on earth. “Tel Aviv is, for lack of a better description, super gay,” the paper’s Christopher Muther told his readers, adding, “The long-standing rule of thumb is that 10 percent of the population is gay, give or take. The estimate by officials in Tel Aviv is 25 percent of its population is gay.”

JNi.Media

Arab Knesset Member Damns Leftists as ‘Rich Racists’ Who Feign ‘Peace’ [video]

Monday, September 7th, 2015

An Arab Knesset Member dumped all over Knesset leftisits in a theatrical speech Monday that was hilarious for the simple reason that he said everything about bleeding heart liberals that a right-winger would like to state but can’t do so because of political correctness.

He labeled the leftists with several adjectives, such as “Ashkenazim,” “spoiled,” “snobs” and “racists.” And what about the leftists ‘agenda for peace?

Garbage.

Zahalka said exactly what right-wingers know about leftists:

They are the ones who told us ‘We have brought peace upon you!’ Shame on you.

The engineers of racism, the engineers of expropriation, of expulsion. Shame on you.

Zahalka’s speech came during a debate on the government proposal to finalize an agreement concerning royalties on offshore natural gas.

MK Stav Shaffir, one of the most extreme leftists in the old Labor party that now is merged with Tzipi Livni’s faction under the funny title of “Zionist Camp,” has asked the attorney general to investigate reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised to earmark nearly $250 million for the Arabs sector if Arab MKs did not vote against the natural gas deal.

That lit a fuse under Zahalka’s feet, and he launched into a 4-minute outburst of rage that could have made him a fortune, with proceeds for his constituents, if he saved it for the stage and sold tickets for the performance.

Shaffir was the perfect target because she represents the “peace and love” sector that brings back to mind the “limousine liberal “Jews in the 1960s who were all for integration of blacks and whites but had second thoughts if it meant that opening up neighborhoods for everyone would include their street.

A more current example is the rich north Tel Aviv leftists’ campaign for asylum for illegal immigrants, who have flooded the relatively poor area of southern Tel Aviv.

Former right-wing MK Michael Ben-Ari pulled off the stunt of the decade a couple of years ago when he brought a group of illegal immigrants to a swimming pool in north Tel Aviv, where the shocked liberals were infuriated.

Shaffir, who at the age of 30 is the youngest MK in Knesset history, has impeccable credentials as the perfect leftist.

She was a leader in the “cottage cheese’ protests three years ago and joined a Women of the Wall spectacle. She supports asylum for illegal immigrants whom she says should be classified as “refugees,” and, of course, she backs LGBT demands.

Earlier this year, she attacked right-wingers and said:

Don’t preach to us about Zionism, because real Zionism means dividing the budget equally among all the citizens of the country. Real Zionism is taking care of the weak. Real Zionism is solidarity, not only in battle but in everyday life.

So what is her beef that some of the gas royalties will help the Arab sector? Good question, and there is simple answer: Shaffir and the rest of the Opposition, as almost every Opposition party in the Knesset, have one ideology: Dump the coalition, especially when it is headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Zahalka blew all his fuses.

The video below is n Hebrew, but here are just some of his remarks:

Since you [Shaffir] came to the Knesset, you never spoke to me. You never told me hello. I try and try to say hello and you do not answer.

Racist!

At least, the extreme right are human beings; they smile at you and say hello. Even Yisrael Beiteinu MKs smile at us. But the members of the Labor party are the mother and father of racism! You invented racism!”

Shaffir, visibly hurt and upset by the accusations called him a liar, but Zahalka responded to almost everything she said with, “Shame on you.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Labor MKs Complain of Aggressive Coercion from Gay Party Activists to Support LGBT Campaign

Friday, August 7th, 2015

(JNi.media) Has the LGBT community succeeded in doing to the Labor party what Moshe Feiglin wanted to do to Likud—take it over from the inside? Zionist Camp (Labor) MKs are claiming that they were required by the Party to mobilize in an unprecedented way in support of the LGBT community, NRG reported Friday.

“They told us to go to every LGBT event and to put the LGBT rainbow flag on our Facebook page,” revealed the MKs, who said they felt the pressure from party chairman Yitzhak Herzog’s office as well.

MKs who have been working for years to bring back to the party its right-wing voters, saw an event such as the Saturday night rally in Tel Aviv’s Gan Meir—a renowned homosexual hangout that was picked for that reason—as setting back their cause.

The event, in reaction to the fatal stabbing of a teenager during the gay pride parade in Jerusalem the previous Thursday, was declared an opportunity to promote tolerance and acceptance—but ended up rejecting Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett, who had agreed to an invite to speak at the rally but was later told to stay home.

But Labor MKs were less upset with Bennett’s orchestrated public humiliation than they have been, apparently, with their own. Several MKs told NRG that over this past week they were required, along with their followers, to mobilize on behalf of the gay community and to promote its agenda.

According to these MKs, the directives came from all over the party, including the “Labor Youth” and the party’s young guard; but also from the office of party chairman MK Yitzhak (Bujhi) Herzog, and the office of the Knesset Labor whip Merav Michaeli’s office.

Some Labor MKs described threats from party activists, who promised political damage to MKs who chose not to tow the party line on this issue.

“They urged the MKs to be present at any event that was somehow tied to the gay community,” one Labor MK told NRG, adding, “Since the terrible murder took place in the gay pride parade in Jerusalem, there has been demand for a total enlistment from all of us. They simply informed us that we were expected to upload Facebook statuses related to the LGBT community. They told us to change our profile picture and put the rainbow flag in it, and to participate in all sorts of gay community projects initiated by the party’s young guard and Labor Youth.”

Other sources in the party claimed that MKs were required to increase their media statements promoting legislation favoring the gay community and its agenda.

“There’s a feeling that the Meretz agenda has taken over the party this week,” one Labor MK told NRG.

One MK reported: “As early as last Saturday night, I have received four requests to upload all kinds of statuses—and they were stated as demands. These notes came from almost everyone — from Labor Youth, from the young guard, from the party spokesperson’s office, and from Herzog’s office, too.”

“People told me you’d better do it, or you’ll will pay a price in the primaries. Many party activists belong to the gay community, and the LGBT involvement in the party is very substantial,” the MK said.

The same MK said he hadn’t seen this level of demand for enlistment to a cause outside an actual election campaign.

Another MK said he was angry about the direction the party followed this week. “We are not Meretz, but a major, centrist party with a plethora of agendas,” he noted. “It cannot be that of all these agendas would bow down before just one. After all, we want to establish a future coalition with the Ultra-Orthodox. How exactly would we do that when [the gay agenda] becomes our flag? As soon as Herzog and Tzipi Livni become fully mobilized in support of an issue, it keeps away population groups we want to attract in the future. Those who do not agree with that agenda have no way to express their opinion. Even some of us who support gay organizations still think they crossed a line here.”

JNi.Media

Radio Host: Rav Ovadia’s Daughter Resembles Stabber Schlissel

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

How long will it take Israel’s society to recover from the shock of the recent murderous attack on the homosexual parade in Jerusalem last Thursday?

If left to Israel’s media, there isn’t much of a chance for a quick healing. A case in point is a nastily provocative question posed by radio host and investigative reporter Ilana Dayan to Adina Bar Shalom, daughter of the late Rav Ovadia Yosef.

Bar Shalom, who serves as member of the Women’s Council of the Shas party, made a Shiva call on Wednesday to the family of the late Shira Banki, who was stabbed to death by Yishai Schlissel, a serial attacker from the Hareidi community. Her visit was one of numerous, similar gestures on the part of Hareidi public figures who have been acting swiftly and forcefully to disassociate themselves from the murder.

In fact, it has been almost amusing, save for the tragic circumstances, to watch Haredi dignitaries go before the cameras to speak gingerly and even respectfully about the LGBT community. It was a first for them, and for the public in general.

Adina Bar Shalom is far from being a right-wing Jew, despite her close association with the Sephardi, Ultra-Orthodox party. She is member of the public council supporting the Geneva Initiative, which was rejected by most Israelis.

In early April 2011, she signed a petition calling on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, and to establish a Palestinian states according to the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

She also came out publicly against the exclusion of women in the Hareidi community and attacked the “segregated bus lines” in public transportation serving Hareidi neighborhoods.

Adina Bar Shalom has far fewer friends on the right than she does on the left. And yet, on Thursday morning, Ilana Dayan decided to use her as a Hareidi straw-man in an interview on Army Radio.

Relating to Bar Shalom’s shiva call to the Banki family, Dayan noted:

Tell me, how can you live with the fact that … I’ll ask you a question that we are very careful with here, everything here being politically correct, how can you live with the fact that Yishai Schlissel looks more like you than he does me?

The evils of political correctness aside, this kind of question is anti-Semitic at its core. It is worse than guilt by association, it comes near to guilt by genetics.

Bar Shalom was dumbfounded, but, probably because she is not an aggressive person, replied: “No, I can’t live with that in peace. I don’t think so.”

“Doesn’t he look more like you than he does me?” Dayan pushed on, apparently unaware of the Aryan overtones of her assault.

“Absolutely not,” Bar Shalom insisted.

So Dayan added the guilt by attire attack:

Despite the fact that he wears a yarmulke and fringes?

Bar Shalom replied:

He broke one of the biggest prohibitions in the Ten Commandments – Thou shalt not murder – {so] how can I view him as a person from my own community?

It was a good answer, although a much better response would have been for Bar Shalom to file a complaint of anti-Semitic harassment with the nearest police station.

Ilana Dayan responded to an inquiry from Kikar HaShabbat that her “intention was obviously just regarding her belonging to the same sector, the Hareidi sector. If things were understood otherwise, of course, I’m sorry. There was no intention to generalize, just to ask and understand.”

She wants to sound as if it were a harmless inquiry, born by pure intellectual curiosity.

JNi.Media

Rally against Violence Bars Religious MKs and Boos Right-Winger

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

Those who blame others for the stabbings of homosexuals last week are tolerant – as long as you agree with them.

Organizers of last night’s Tel Aviv rally against violence and for support of the homosexual movement barred speakers who did not sign a pledge that they support the cause of homosexuals and lesbians.

They advised Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) Naftali Bennett, who asked to speak, that it would be wise for him to stay away.

The reason was clear when right-wing Likud Minister Yuval Steinitz spoke, or at least tried to speak. His call for non-violence was drowned by catcalls from the crowd.

One of the preachers for tolerance and non-violence was arrested by police when he surged toward the Steinitz as he was speaking.

Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) Knesset Member Yinon Magal, who strongly identifies with the national religious movement, also was scheduled to speak. However, when he arrived at the rally, he was told he had to sign a statement saying that he supports the homosexual movement. Magal said he does not speak “on condition,” refused to sign and was barred from addressing the crowd.

There were several religious leaders, such as Rabbi Benny Lau, who did speak, but the requirement for signing a pledge illustrates the rally organizer’s understanding of “tolerance.”

The rally originally was called in memory of the murder of a homosexual in Tel Aviv several years ago, but the stabbings of several people by a known psychopath at the parade for homosexuals in Jerusalem Friday, along with the arson-murder of a Palestinian Authority baby gave the organizers plenty of ammunition to preach non-violence and tolerance.

Preaching is one thing, Practice is another.

The organizers don’t want right-wingers and religious people to tolerate homosexuals. They demand acceptance and approval.

And if you don’t approve, you cannot be tolerated.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rally-against-violence-bars-religious-mks-and-boos-right-winger/2015/08/02/

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