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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘LGBT’

A Response to: Torah Values vs. “LGBT” Agenda

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

[Editor’s Note: We received numerous letters from the LGBT community protesting an op-ed which JewishPress.com recently published (Torah Values vs. “LGBT” Agenda). Nearly all of the letters demanded that the author’s voice be silenced and his article taken down – each with its own reason why. The letter below was nearly the only one that did not demand the article be completely removed and the author silenced for expressing a viewpoint they disagreed with.]

Dear Jewish Press,

Hiding safe behind his own “anonymity” the author of this article (Torah Values vs. “LGBT” Agenda) publicly trashes two other yiddin by name (one an Orthodox Rav). I am even more in shock that the paper allowed this a day before Yom Kippur. The negativity directed toward others in that anonymous piece is needless, pointless, and only serves to ruin hundreds of already vulnerable youths’ Yom Kippur.

As the director of JQY I am certainly an advocate of the “anonymous” author publicly sharing his feelings about himself, and his hopes, fears and dreams. We all are different. It is important for people to hear everyone’s story, and everyone should feel validated for their journey. However, there is neither a need or any purpose in including negative rhetoric, personal attacks or suggest malicious intent about others. You do not need to shame others in order to tell your story!

The only reason both Chaim and Rav Levine’s names were used in the article was to speak disparagingly about them and to embarrass them.

This was an obvious and direct attempt to apply stigma and pressure onto Rabbi Levine. The author is neither a reporter or someone who’s story can be verified. No context is even offered to explain Rabbi Levine’s shiur or decision. In fact the author remains anonymous and insists on protecting his own confidentiality as he names the names of other people to shame! This is simply despicable, and absolutely hallachically and hashkafically wrong…AND ON THE DAY BEFORE YOM KIPPUR!

In Yehadus to shame someone publicly is likened to murder. To shame a whole group of people by publishing Motzie Shem Ra about them is unforgivable. Why does the author insist on speaking negatively about the members of this group and community? Does someone else marching in a pride parade or identifying as gay hurt HIM? He never cites an incident where he was silenced or shamed for his feelings, because at JQY he never would be!

The truth is, at JQY (Temicha) there are many people who decide not to march in parades. They are never made to feel bad. In fact at JQY there are many people who do not identify as “gay” and may be in forms of therapy to explore living heterosexual lifestyles. Sexuality exists on a spectrum and sometimes has innate fluidity; how could we ever make someone feel bad for wanting to lead a hallachic life? Most of us wish for that! We would never shame anyone for trying. The author should be proud of his commitment to Hashem. In insisting on his own anonymity, it is he, not us, who seems to be insecure with his decisions and life choices.

We certainly would never silence him! In fact, on the contrary, we sometimes include celibate, heterosexually married and Jews in conversion therapy on our JQY panels and educational initiatives. At JQY our goal is health and well being. We would never make anyone feel bad about their choices. Our only rule is not to harm or attack others.

It is never my wish to silence anyone. So I actually do not think the article should be completely removed. I ask the “anonymous” author to re-write the article, and focus on himself and his wishes and desires, without bad-mouthing others in the process. Furthermore, if he chooses to keep his name confidential, than he should at least extend the same respect to other Jews.

Especially on Erev Yom Kippur, I think this is a reasonable request. May we all work to build each other up and not to tear each other down.

Gmar Chasima Tova

Sincerely,
Mordechai Levovitz
Director, JQY
JQYouth. com

Torah Values vs. “LGBT” Agenda

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

I recently became aware that Rabbi Yosie Levine of the Jewish Center will be addressing a so-called “LGBT” group for Jewish youth. He will deliver a pre-Yom Kippur shiur. I’m sure Rabbi Levine means well but I want to share my story and maybe he will think twice about associating with this group (I am deliberately not mentioning the name of the group because I don’t wish to give them any publicity).

About a year or so ago, your paper published a letter from a young man who is struggling with homosexual desires. Ever since that time, I have felt compelled to write. I too am gay. But I have a different outlook than Chaim Levin. It seems like Chaim has given up. Unlike him I have not given up. I will never give up. I want to have a wife and children in the natural way. I believe that is Hashem’s plan. And no matter what the gay liberals tell me, they won’t change my mind. I think Chaim Levin is a good person and that he means well in what he wrote. I don’t mean to judge him. I just feel that he has been led astray. Similarly, I think Rabbi Levine means well but he might not be fully aware of what this group does.

This Jewish group for homosexual young people is supposedly orthodox—and I emphasize supposedly. It wouldn’t be fair to paint everyone with a broad brush but the fact is some of the members of that group are more interested in being gay than being Jewish. For some of them, their real agenda is to undermine the Torah’s view of homosexuality. They don’t just want to be accepted as Jews struggling with the tayvah of same-sex attraction. They want to be fully embraced when they act upon their desires and publicly lead that lifestyle—a lifestyle that blatantly contradicts the Torah. They want to destroy JONAH (a Jewish organization that tries to help those struggling with homosexual desires). They want gay marriage to be legalized in every state and they want gay couples raising kids. They march, with kipa and tzitzis, in the “gay pride” parade. This is a parade with the most vulgar, lewd, and disgusting displays you can possibly imagine going on and they create a chillul Hashem every year. I wish I had more of a support group among people that are struggling, but the truth is, these people do NOT represent me. Most of them have given up the struggle and have given into their desires. With G-d’s help, I have not given up and I hope that I never will.

This group, and the liberals in general, tell me to just “accept myself” and that this is “who I am.” But that’s just it! I’ve already accepted myself. I know I am more attracted to men than to women but I also know that is not the way G-d wants me to live my life. Even putting religion aside, I know it is not the way I want to live my life. I want a wife and children—and G-d willing someday grandchildren! And so instead of giving up and giving in to my desires I continue to fight and struggle every single day. No, it’s not easy. Sometimes my temptations have gotten the better of me, but then I remember that no matter how many times I may fall, a Jew never gives up! I remember the words of Rebbe Nachman who reminds us to “Never give up!”

I will admit that sometimes I get tired of this struggle. It’s not easy. I sometimes feel like I have no place to turn. I wish these “open-minded” liberal Jews were really as accepting and tolerant as they pretend to be. The truth is they are only tolerant if you go along with their “LGBT” agenda but if not they will attack you. Sometimes I feel like I’m alone in this struggle and sometimes I feel like I have nowhere to turn. But then I remember that I do have a place to turn: I turn to the One above and know that He will guide me and help me if I just put my trust in Him. So that is my message for other young guys ( and girls) who are struggling. Never give up! Never! G-d loves you very, very much. More than you can imagine. And no matter what you decide to do He will still love you anyway, no matter what. But He has given us free will. We can use that to follow Him or to follow after our “heart and our eyes which lead us astray. “ I have chosen to try my best to follow His will. I may succeed or I may fail but after 120 and least I will be able to say, “I tried!”

Disclosure: The author has requested that his article be published anonymously. The author is not associated with the JONAH organization mentioned in the article.

Angry Mom Responds to Letter Writer

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

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

We Are Not Under Attack By the LGBT Community

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

A strident op-ed titled “We Are Under Attack by the LGBTPed Community” was published on 5TJT.com and has been picked up by YWN. The article argues that government bans on so called Conversion Therapy is an assault on religious freedom. This sort of therapy has been discussed on this blog previously. See: Conversion Therapy.

The upshot of the article is that Agudath Israel, OU, and NCYI need to lobby against these bans that, as the author concludes, “deprives both minors and therapists the freedom of seeking out therapies that will encourage redirection for those struggling with unhealthy physical attractions. This is a direct assault on religious freedoms in this state by the LGBTPed community, and we must put in an all-out effort to quash this bill.”

There is so much wrong with this op-ed. Too many of the assumptions in the article are based on familiar, and erroneous, conservative Daas Radio talking points.

The headline is obscene. It implies that there is equivalence between LGBT and pedophiles. Leaving aside the issue of whether these tendencies are inborn or learned, or whether they are deviant tendencies, LGBT and pedophilia cannot be uttered in the same sentence with a straight face. One who is LGBT and acts on those tendencies with a consenting adult may be a sinner in the eyes of some religions or God. However, they are acting in a loving and respectful manner. A pedophile who acts on their tendencies is taking advantage of a child. This is a violent, selfish, abusive act. There is no moral equivalence between the two and we should not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of equating the two under any circumstance.

There is an assumption that Orthodox organizations do not work together with Christian lobbyists. This is incorrect. The frum organizations joined Christian forces in opposing the “contraception mandate” portion of the American Healthcare Act. (See: Controlling Birth Control and OU and Agudah Unite Against Contraceptives on DovBear). There is plenty of evidence that Orthodox Jewish organizations and conservative Christians work together on many things. This is just something that they are (thankfully) choosing to ignore (so far).

Banning Conversion Therapy is not an assault on freedom nor is it an attack against religion. The 9th Circuit correctly ruled that these bans are not an assault on freedom because they do not regulate speech. They regulate professional activity. We are guaranteed freedom of speech, not freedom of professional activity. It’s no different than any law that regulates psychologists or lawyers or really any profession where the bulk of the work being done is speech. When speech is used in a professional context like therapy it is not simply speech, it becomes conduct. The government has the right to regulate professional conduct. Just because much of the conduct is speech, the power the government has to regulate the conduct does not magically become limited.

Also, as Professor Volokh notes, even though the science of whether something is harmful or helpful may change, as long as the government leaves the issue open for reevaluation based on the current science, the law is fair. It’s not an assault on freedom. Orthodox Jews are free to teach Leviticus and we are free to deny any religious rights and privileges to anyone we so choose. But the state can still regulate therapy. This is not an attack on religion.

Further, the horror stories of JONAH participants is enough to discourage any of us from lamenting laws that prohibit them from engaging in dangerous forms of therapy. Disallowing this kind of therapy protects children and teens from potential harms. I’ve been told that JONAH also provides therapy to sex abusers, oftentimes together with LGBT people. This is a clear message to LGBT people that they are viewed as equals to sex abusers. Protecting its citizens is certainly within the rights of a state. The lack of scientific evidence to support Conversion Therapy combined with the harmful activities associated with organizations like JONAH are enough to support the state’s decision to ban it.

‘Gay Detector’ Will Prevent Gays from Entering Gulf States

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Most New Yorkers have heard the expression “gay-dar,” which refers to someone’s ability to determine whether another person is gay and straight. But Kuwaitis are claiming that their government will soon be able to administer a medical test to determine whether those entering the country are gay.

Foreigners coming into the GCC countries are already given a routine health check. That check up will soon include tests to detect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people, who will then be turned away from the borders.

Yousouf Mindkar, the director of public health at the Kuwaiti health ministry, announced that a new medical device is under development which will be able to detect those with sexual preferences which differ from the majority standard.

It is currently against the law to be gay in 78 countries, and in five countries non-mainstream sexual activity carries a capital punishment sentence: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Mauritania.

Israel continues to have one of the most lenient approaches to gay lifestyles of any Middle East country, and is just as permissive as most European states.

Y-Love – Jewish, Orthodox, Black… and Gay

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

New York rapper Yitz “Y-Love” Jordan, famed black convert to Orthodox Judaism and celebrated artist, has announced that he is homosexual in an interview with Out magazine.

Jordan told the magazine he hopes his announcement will not cause him to be alienated by his community, but that he no longer cares very much about what people think.  He said he will continue to infuse his music with Jewish values, with Hebrew, and will aim to bolster LGBT hip-hop fans.

Jordan is of Puerto Rican and Ethiopian descent, and completed an Orthodox conversion in 2000, going on to study at Jerusalem’s Ohr Somayach yeshiva.

“I’m ready to find a husband,” Jordan told Out. “My number one priority is to get back into dating.”

According to the interview, Y-Love tried therapy aimed at attracting him to a heterosexual lifestyle, but was not changed by it.  He was married to a Jewish woman for a short time, but the relationship ended in divorce.

Out says Jordan now calls himself “ex-Hassidic,” and no longer lives in Flatbush.  He continues to celebrate Jewish holidays.

Seattle LGBT to Visiting Israeli Homosexuals: Gay Aveck!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

In the solidarity business, life can be unpredictable. Take, for instance, the story of the LGBT commission representing the gay community in the city government of Seattle, which this month canceled a Friday reception at City Hall for a visiting delegation of Israeli gay leaders.

The Seattle Times reported that the commission had initially planned to host the meeting, which was requested by the six-member Israeli delegation. The same delegation was also visiting San Francisco and Los Angeles, exchanging “ideas on advancing gay rights.” The Israelis had been made to feel welcome in SF and LA, but in Seattle – not so much.

There was a raucous meeting of gay officials on the Thursday prior to the scheduled visit in Seattle, and a tiny but very loud group were making the case that Israel was “pinkwashing” its horrible treatment of the Palestinians by showing the world how fabulous it is on gay rights.

This is the most creative argument I’ve heard in a while, making the absurd case that the more tolerant and accepting Israel is of its gay citizens, the more vicious it is to others. Remember, it came from the folks who gave us the idea of the “homophobe,” which suggests that if you object to homosexuality it’s because, deep inside, you are homosexual yourself, and the more you object, the deeper your suppressed deviation goes.

The “pinkwashing” concept was likely the brainchild of transsexual, Seattle University law professor Dean Spade, who dubbed the gay delegation’s visit “apartheid and occupation” wrapped in the rainbow flag.

As a result of the very loud objection of very few participants, the commission, which is an important player in the political life of the city of Seattle, canceled the next day’s meeting with the Israelis, because it wasn’t ready to deal with “such complex topics.”

And other scheduled meetings of the Israeli delegation, in Tacoma and in Olympia, were cancelled or pushed off as well.

Members of the delegation told the Times they were shocked. They issued a statement saying: “We expected from the Seattle LGBTQ Commission a strong declaration of its intent to support all LGBTQ activists, regardless of their color, sex or national origin. Sadly, it appears that the commission, representing a minority that continues to face discrimination, also practices that same discrimination.”

There was one righteous voice in the bunch, Wider Bridge, a California-based gay Jewish organization which was promoting the delegation’s visit, and stuck by it. Its representatives told the Times: “The truth is that Israel is a good place to be LGBT, and it is so because there are countless people within Israel doing amazing, courageous work every day … saving lives, including the lives of young LGBTQ Palestinians who often have nowhere else to turn.”

This was backed up by Avner Dafni, executive director of Israeli Gay Youth (IGY), who stated: “In the Palestinian territories, a youth who goes to a gay party can be killed by his own family. Israeli LGBT organizations are often the only places gay or lesbian Palestinians can turn to.”

And gay Jewish activist Robert Wilkes wrote: “Israeli gays or lesbians in Israel are protected from discrimination by law and by the high moral standards of the culture and society. In some respects, Israel is more accommodating to gays and lesbians than we are. For example, the gay partner of a deceased Israeli soldier gets the same benefits as a widow, unlike partners of servicemen and women in the U.S.”

But Stefanie Fox, Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, wrote: “Many of us actively support LGBTQ friends and relatives in Israel and their struggle to live a life free of discrimination, but advances for Jews have not affected Palestinians living under occupation, including those who are LGBTQ, who suffer from discrimination, persecution, restriction, and daily threats of violence from Israel.”

And don’t you go confusing us with the facts, young man…

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/seattle-lgbt-to-visiting-israeli-homosexuals-gay-aveck/2012/03/27/

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