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Jewish Journal

Letters to the Editor: Gay marriage

July 17, 2013 | 11:51 am

Decision to Perform Gay Marriages Sparks Much Conversation

Susan Freudenheim’s coverage of Rabbi David Wolpe’s decision to marry gay couples described a fascinating evolution in the Sinai Temple community (“The Gay Marriage Debate,” July 5). I want to clarify that my office at Sinai Akiba Academy has not received any threats of families leaving the school in light of the temple’s new policy. I have spoken with several families who expressed concern and wanted to better understand if the policy would change the curriculum at Sinai Akiba Academy (it will not). Although both the Jewish Journal and The New York Times have pointed out that much of the opposition comes from Sinai’s Iranian population, I would note that I have received positive and negative feedback from a culturally diverse cross section of school families, including a warm reception from many Iranian families as well as concern from families of Ashkenazic descent. I am deeply honored to lead Sinai Akiba Academy — which has retained every one of its 480 students over the course of this change — whose families daily demonstrate adaptability, curiosity and a desire to learn and understand how our rabbis believe gay marriage fits within the framework of the teachings and commandments of the Torah.

Sarah Shulkind
Head of School, Sinai Akiba Academy

We need more rabbis like David Wolpe, who will make sure that no Jew will be left behind in his or her search for gladness, joy and happiness.

Ken Lautman
Los Angeles

More Support for Gay Marriage Stand

Thank you once again, Gina Nahai, for an insightful and honest assessment of a situation (“We Have No Homosexuals Here,” July 12). I stand with my colleague Rabbi David Wolpe and ask all of us to remember when being a Jew was an “odorous” thing to many people. Gina, your courage, your spirit and your brilliance shine through.

Rabbi Mark Borovitz
Beit T’Shuvah
via jewishjournal.com

Thank you for Gina Nahai’s article regarding the bigotry of some members of Sinai Temple, members who themselves faced bigotry when they were new to the temple.  Ms. Nahai wrote beautifully. She was concise, specific, angry, knowledgeable — in short, perfect!

Ann Bourman
Los Angeles

Bravo to Gina Nahai!  Thank you for reminding all of us of what Jews have dealt with through the ages — Iranian and non-Iranian alike.

Ruth Merritt
Beverly Hills

Misuse of Torah’s Words

Sometimes the truth hurts, David Suissa (“A Real Gay Marriage Debate,” July 12). If you study our ancient prophets, you will find that most were either ignored or had their lives threatened by the community for rebuking them for their sins and trying to convince them to repent. That came to mind when I read your reaction to the Sinai member who used the Scripture as an argument against institutionalizing a clear violation of the Torah.

Bringing up the death sentence for a Sabbath violator, which ceased to apply after the destruction of the Temple, was not a proper comparison to a law that is still applicable. You should know better than that.

Yes, having an attraction to someone of the same sex may not be a choice. But acting upon it definitely is. The Torah prohibition is against the action. People have all sorts of tendencies. Many of them may not be healthy, for them or society. But we are taught, or should be taught, to control them or channel them in a healthier way.

Referring to a clear Torah prohibition, which applies to non-Jews as well as Jews, as a “tradition” appears to have been used by Wolpe to diminish its importance. And asking where [acceptance of homosexuality] is going seems obvious to any student of history: the same direction as ancient Rome and other civilizations that indulged in excesses and immorality.

You make the claim that there is nothing wrong with uniting two loving souls. Well, that sounds beautiful. But what if those two souls were brother and sister? What if these adult siblings wanted to live as man and wife? Where do we draw the line? Obviously, we can’t count on the ever-changing morals of society to guide us. Fortunately, we were given a guide: the Torah. We just need to have the strength not to be persuaded by the cause du jour and follow the laws that have allowed us to survive for thousands of years.

Daniel de Porto
via jewishjournal.com

David Suissa responds:

Yes, I agree, sometimes the truth hurts. In Mr. de Porto’s case, the truth that obviously hurts is the fact that the homosexuality he abhors has now entered the American mainstream. 

He concedes that homosexuality “may not be a choice,” but he has a solution. His solution is that gays should be “taught” to “control” their urges and tendencies because these are prohibited in the Torah. Well, I guess that settles it.

Mr. de Porto brandishes his point of view and his beloved Torah in such a hurtful and patronizing way as to make any Torah follower look like an intolerant bigot. In the process, he ends up undermining his own case.

As I wrote in my column, if there was ever an issue in our community that called for diplomacy and sensitivity, this one is it. This subject is sensitive and divisive enough as it is. 

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