Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir/TPS
People Praying at the Jerusalem Gay Parade. July 21, 2016

By Tzvi Lev/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – While controversy has been brewing over several prominent rabbis’ comments on homosexuality and the Jerusalem gay pride parade, a well known religious-Zionist rabbi has been quietly setting up Orthodox gay men with lesbian women to be married, an idea that is considered revolutionary in the religious-Zionist world.

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The Anachnu (“we” in Hebrew) organization is an NGO founded in 2011 by Rabbi Areleh Harel and is associated with Kamoha, a support organization for religious homosexuals who wish to have a conventional marriage.

As a resident of Shiloh and a teacher at the Elon Moreh Yeshiva, which is commonly associated with the ultra-Orthodox stream of religious-Zionism, Rabbi Harel does not seem a likely candidate to run a matchmaking service for homosexuals yet he began taking interest in the matter 12 years ago.

“Women were coming to me and telling me that after 10 or 15 years of marriage, they realized that their husband was gay and was seeing other men,” he said. “I understood the tremendous pain felt by many religious homosexuals and I felt that I had to do something.”

“A religious homosexual is stuck,” he continued. “I don’t have any way to solve this problem. Perhaps one tried to change and failed, but the question is what do we do now? If a gay man and a lesbian woman can marry each other without expecting love and sexuality, they can still build a traditional family.”

After six years of independently setting up religious gays and lesbians, Rabbi Harel was approached by Kamoha with an offer to formally expand his activities.

“Our NGO received many requests from gay men asking to be set up with lesbian women,” said Amit, the spokesman for Kamoha, who preferred not to disclose his full name. “Since so many people have turned to us, we decided to set up an initiative to match gays with lesbians. All of the rabbis we spoke to sent us to Rabbi Harel who had already been doing it privately and we decided to turn it into something official as part of our NGO, which became Anachnu.”

Anachnu recommends using their services only after having already seen a therapist and having accepted that a change to one’s sexual orientation would be impossible. “Those suitable for this project are those who are not in the process of trying out a new sexual orientation, but rather for those who have accepted themselves as being gay or lesbian,” states their website.

Amit claims that Anachnu is not being used exclusively by religious Jews. “The majority are religious,” he admits. “However, there have also been traditional people and even secular people who have reached out to us. All of them are closeted.”

Kamoha’s efforts are not without controversy within the religious community. Chavruta is an organization that supports religious homosexuals and is often considered a more liberal alternative to Kamoha. Daniel Jonas, a Chavruta spokesperson, offered lukewarm praise for the initiative. “We think that everyone has a right to choose their own path,” he said. “It makes no difference whether that means to live in the closet while married to a woman and pretending everything is normal or to live as you are.”

He warned against using groups like Anachnu to further hurt the LGBT community. “We reject any initiative that tells us ‘this is how you need to be’. If a person chooses to marry a woman and build a house with her, that is fine and there is a place for them. However, we in no way, shape, or form accept someone saying that this is the only solution and that this is what everyone needs to do.”

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19 COMMENTS

  1. I don't want to disappoint anyone, but the editors of your fine site have been lied to.

    This idea of marrying gay men and lesbians has completely flopped. Kamocha made tens of thousands of shekkels from the first dozen of naive people and then the whole thing collapsed. There are no women who are interested for many years. There are still plenty of men, but men are always more easily fooled than women. One also needs to sign that one understands that the Rabbi and Kamocha take no responsibility for success, which is a euphenism for: you never see you money back.

    The people who need therapy, and I say this with the greatest amount of respect, are the rabbis. Everybody can see this.

  2. Two gay men, a committed couple, can be wonderful parents. The same goes for Lesbian women, a copuple. They can be religious or not religious. Their sexuality has nothing to do with being a responsible, involved, teaching, loving parent. The children are normal healthy kids. They have parents that want them, planned to have them and grateful to have them. The world accepts the gay community, which is about time!
    I don't see the problem. Why force a problem?

  3. The problem is that G-d says that homosexuality is an abomination. They should not be allowed to adopt children- messes the kids up to have weird parents like that. As for the above group- whats the point of getting marrried- for what? To adopt kids into a retarded structure like that where both Mom and Dad have girlfriends and boyfriends on the side. Better they don't set up such a structure.

  4. The problem is that the Bible forbids it and those who are loyal to the Bible are stuck. That's why people are trying to find solutions. You probably don't understand the problem because you probably don't think the Bible is relevant.

  5. Mark Summers Please don't tell me what I think. The Bible is revelent! However, many interpretations are written by men. I believe in Tolerance and Acceptance! Talk to doctors and scientists. It's a fact, scientific fact, women have rwo X chromosomes. Men have one Y and one X. Sex chromosomes form 23 pairs in each human cell! Sometimes cells are formed incorrectly. I don't believe men choose homosexuality How does a juvenile express he is different. There is fear & shame, especially in Orthodox families. There is more harm done to a child in repression along with the fear of family as well as the confusion about what he feels.The child isn't anything less than everyone else. Certainly two men can instill the correct morals & values in children to make them involved, educated contributors to society. Men can love each other. Please don't envision sex orgies because two people feel love. One is not the other.
    I personally believe this kind of Intolerance is due to lack of education! Some of the greatest men in history have been gay. Some of the greatest "thinkers" and contributors have been gay. Educate yourself and show some compassion, respect & acceptance. Homosexualty will never go away! And by the way, Shame on you!

  6. João Paulo Fernandes Pontes,
    ??" the State of Israel must kill all man who has sexual relations with man." ??? ?? "the state of Israel must kill all those who participate in gay pride parade." ?? You really truly believe "killing" is okay? I'm so sorry you believe that. I'm soooo glad I'm not you…
    This is as crazy as the the Muslims who interpret the Quran in a way that justifies killing all Jews & any person who does not believe in their interpretation of the Quran! There is NO justification for killing unless a person has been convicted of murder & must pay the consequences.

  7. Marsha Roth
    First Quran prohibits killing any person for different religious believes. Jews and Christians have lived peacefully and given full rights for many centuries under Islamic rules and especially under Ottoman Empire while Jews were dehumanized and killed in Europe.
    Second, all religions who believe in God have in their books that the act of non normal sex behavior is prohibited and should be killed. Reason for the killing because those people aren't normal and can ruin normal young boys by those acts which in turn can ruin a society. It's like a virus that can spread and kill you if not given the correct Medicine.
    Third, you are not more concerned about human rights than us. But God's rules are above everything. We follow it as you follow your company working rules. What happens if you don't follow your company working rules, you get fired. What happens if you don't follow God's rules, you get sent to hell.
    Which is better for you hell or heaven? That is if you believe in God in the first place.

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