Posted by Lia Mandelbaum
Last month, I decided that I was ready to start exploring new opportunities and felt that my time working a Beit T’Shuvah should begin coming to an end. I entered into their residential program exactly three years ago this month, and my eyes have become open to all that the Jewish Community has to offer. I knew that I would be making a bold move considering I was not sure where I would want to be employed next. I was hesitant to give my notice prior to having something else lined up, but I knew within myself that this chapter of my life was coming to an end and that ultimately, I would be okay. Each day, I continue to put one foot in front of the next, and have not let the fear of the unknown hold me back. Neither have I allowed myself to feel doomed because of the lack job availability. While it is obviously true that these are tough economic times, the biggest hurdle for me would be my own self-doubt. My faith today comes from my belief that G-d does not give me more than I can handle, and that I will be placed in whatever situation G-d feels is right for me. Along my journey I am encouraged by beshert blessings that are happening all around me. People are being placed in my life at exactly the right times, and I believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
As if looking for a new job is not hard enough, at the end of August I am moving as well. I am very excited about both looking for new employment, and moving into a beautiful new home. I will be moving from Santa Monica to Silverlake to live with two of my favorite people, Asher Gellis, who is the Executive Director of JQ and the fabulous and super cool Tera Greene who is also a blogger for Oy Gay. JQ International is a Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgender (GLBT) Jewish movement founded to serve as an infrastructure and community building space for GLBT Jews. It provides an opportunity to connect with others and build programs and services that foster a healthy fusion of GLBT and Jewish Identity. Living at this house, where a great deal of JQ’s events are held, I will often be surrounded by young Jewish people just like me.
I was raised in Tampa, Florida in a culturally Jewish home, yet growing up I felt estranged from Judaism. Part of my discomfort came from the fear of not being accepted within the Jewish community because of my sexuality. Growing up, the fear of not being accepted forced me to hide behind masks and pushed me to detach from what was going on around me. For many years going to Hebrew school, becoming a Bat Mitzvah and attending holiday events, I felt disconnected from Judaism and had difficulty embracing the teachings. I feel as though I have a lot of Judaism to catch up on and have a deep desire to learn as much as I can. Being a part of the JQ community is helping not only strengthen my relationships with other Jews and members of the LGBTQ community, but it is also helping me integrate two very important things in my life. This new chapter will be one step closer to wholeness.
2.17.13 at 11:04 am | Registration for the May 2013 trip is NOW OPEN!. . .
2.6.13 at 9:26 pm | This event is in honor of award winning. . .
11.14.12 at 10:52 am | Beth Chayim Chadishim commemorates Transgender. . .
8.25.12 at 3:13 am | The 'If I Were a Rich Man Tour' is a. . .
7.17.12 at 10:05 pm | Each and every day, with open eyes, we can. . .
6.24.12 at 1:44 pm | Outfest is celebrating its 30th Anniversary July. . .
7.23.10 at 12:09 pm | "our obligation [is] to treat human beings with. . . (31)
7.17.12 at 10:05 pm | Each and every day, with open eyes, we can. . . (4)
9.14.10 at 11:12 pm | Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore were Surrealist. . . (3)
August 12, 2010 | 11:54 am
Posted by Molly Kane
I have experienced tremendous excitement this summer as a result of positive news for the whole LGBT community as well as the Jewish LGBT community. The accomplishments of the summer demonstrate that it does not have to be June in order to feel proud. Pride is something we deserve to have throughout the year. Pride is essential to our strength to continue our fight for equality.
The excitement began with the Op-Ed article from the JTA by Lynn Schusterman announcing that they will only consider funding organizations that have non-discrimination policies, which cover sexual orientation and gender identity and expression was a major call to the Jewish world to practice what it preaches. The response to Schusterman’s announcement was mixed, but Hebrew Union College’s President David Ellenson applauded Schesterman’s decision and responded to those who criticized it in writing. In his Op-Ed in the JTA he wrote, “I hold that the values and principles of empathy and justice contained in our tradition demand an alternative Jewish religious standpoint that would require the LGBT community receives the same privileges and entitlements enjoyed by heterosexuals…” Ellensons’s unequivocal support is indicative of our movement’s commitment to inclusivity and equal rights.
The summer’s events did not end there. At the end of July, for the first time in several years the Jerusalem Open House along with the Israeli Religious Action Center received a permit for the Jerusalem pride parade that allowed people to march several blocks through different neighborhoods ending at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament building. Why was this a big deal? In past years, the parade was subject to violence and threats severely limiting the celebration. In the words of Noa Sattath the associate director of IRAC, “For years people have claimed that Jerusalem is “too holy” a city for a Pride march.” This summer the Jerusalem LGBT community and its supporters were able to take to the streets to celebrate holiness, which in this context is being able to be loud and proud about one’s identity.
And then last week the California state supreme court voted Proposition 8 as unconstitutional. This decision is not specifically a victory for the Jewish community, but it is an integral part of the memento of the events of the summer.
In the spring, I delivered my senior sermon on parahsat acharei mot-kedoshim. I spoke about how a society moves from degradation to liberation. I suggested that we move through five different stages: fear, ambivalence, tolerance, acceptance, and then liberation. I believe we are stuck between tolerance and acceptance, but we are inching our way forward. This summer is certainly indicative of our desire to propel ourselves to a place of liberation.
This week marks the beginning of the Jewish month Elul, where we begin to prepare ourselves for the upcoming High Holidays. Beginning with the second day of Elul until Rosh Hashanah we are commanded to blow the shofar daily. The shofar blasts are meant to be a call to stir us to repentance. Let them also be a call to awaken us from complacency and move us towards action. The decisions by Schusterman and by the judge in California are decisions of change. Such decisions are not made easily. Just as personal change requires discipline and commitment so does change in laws and policies. We can take the excitement of the summer and carry it with us into the New Year. We can use the energy to continue to move us forward to a place of total acceptance and liberation.
To see the full text of Molly’s sermon please visit:
August 6, 2010 | 9:54 pm
Posted by Brandon Gellis
Dictionary.com defines faith as:
1. Confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
2. Belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3. Belief in god or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
With Judge Walker’s recent ruling to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage, I couldn’t help but think “Finally! A little voice of reason.” Just over a year ago, my partner and I “took the plunge” and unified our lives before family, friends, a rabbi, many random beach goers, and God. With last year’s passing of Proposition 8, Judge Walker’s Wednesday ruling, and the on slot of conservative, right wing opinions again bashing the integrity of equality in the U.S., I am reminded of a simple sentiment, “you’ve got to have faith.”
If living in Laramie has taught me anything it’s about having faith and as with any major milestone in one’s life, moving to Laramie has been trans-formative. Last week I was reminded that even in the most unanticipated ways, having a little bit of faith can go a long way. Recently my hubby and I attended our first gay commitment ceremony in Laramie, which was without a doubt an eye-opener to us both. Even in a small, Western, traditional community like ours, equality can prevail. I am reaffirmed in my belief that with a little bit of faith and patience, a loving home can be established anywhere.
As it turns out faith is a subjective notion and is personal. Naturally I recognize that civil unions, marriage, and domestic benefits are key elements in accepting and celebrating GLBTQ members of society, but I have to say that every little bit is a step forward. I am not naive to believe that our modern day civil rights battle is far from over, but with the recent turn of events in California and here in Wyoming I’ve begun to regain a little bit of faith in humanity.
As my mother said Wednesday of Judge Walker’s ruling, “Its something and it’s a step in the right direction.” Enough small, even baby steps combined can ratify this world, and with one wedding at a time, I look forward to see what’s next.
Well, tomorrow I’m off for a wonderful lesbian wedding in Iowa. I know, Iowa, right? So, until next time, I bid you love, happiness and faith!
August 4, 2010 | 8:12 pm
Posted by Janelle Eagle
Imagine being treated like a second-class citizen. Denied rights based on the qualities you inherited at birth. Forced to segregate yourself to avoid violence, discrimination, and intolerance. Enduring a legal and political system that excluded you, told you that you were not protected, because a majority of the population surrounding you didn’t believe you had a right to exist. For many in the Jewish Community, this doesn’t have to be imagined- it actually happened in the not-too-distant past (and still occurs for many).
Today, another group of Jews is experiencing this same exclusion every day. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Jewish community in the state of California has been told that they are second-class citizens. That their sexual orientation, which is not chosen- but inherent at birth, is cause for the denial of over 1000 different rights that our heterosexual Jewish friends enjoy (Read about which ones HERE). The courts have repeatedly refused to protect the LGBTQ minority. In 2008, the passage of Prop. 8 put the rights that we have to protect our families into the hands of a majority that does not like us.
Today there is hope in the state of California for the LGBTQ Jewish community and their friends and family. Federal Judge Vaughn Walker overturned California’s ban on same-sex marriage (Proposition 8), saying the voter-approved rule violates the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians. Not just the constitution of the State of California, but the rights guaranteed to all Americans in the constitution of the United States of America.
“This ruling is an incredible step forward in the history of the LGBTQ movement; a Federal Judge has affirmed the validity of families that want to provide for each other, a principle that Judaism upholds. The multitude of Jewish LGBTQ residents of California are one step closer to achieving full equality.” said Asher Gellis, Executive Director of JQ International, a non-profit organization based out of Los Angeles that works to create safe space for LGBTQ Jews and their friends and family.
The judge made this ruling based on whether proposition 8 violated the constitutional rights of equal protection and due process under the law. According to this judge (and many in the LGBTQ Jewish community), Proposition 8 did violate those rights. Here are some of the points made by the judge about his decision:
THE COSTS OF MARRIAGE
“…Proposition 8 increases costs and decreases wealth for same-sex couples because of increased tax burdens, decreased availability of health insurance and higher transactions costs to secure rights and obligations typically associated with marriage. Domestic partnership reduces but does not eliminate these costs….” (PAGES 85-94)
MARRIAGE AS A TOOL FOR PROCREATION
“The evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry.” (PAGES 109-114)
MARRIAGE AND RELIGION/MORALS
“Conjecture, speculation and fears are not enough. Still less will the moral disapprobation of a group or class of citizens suffice, no matter how large the majority that shares that view. The evidence demonstrated beyond serious reckoning that Proposition 8 finds support only in such disapproval. As such, Proposition 8 is beyond the constitutional reach of the voters or their representatives.” (PAGES 132-135)
These last two elements of the ruling will surely upset religious individuals throughout the state (and nation) who oftentimes vote based on their morals. The proponents of Prop 8 state, including Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage say that “With a stroke of his pen, Judge Walker has overruled the votes and values of 7 million Californians who voted for marriage as one man and one woman.” The separation between church/temple and state is clearly a hot-button item in this debate.
Quite a bit is happening in the LGBTQ Jewish world to meander that very debate. In June, a historic convening took place in Berkeley in which close to 100 individuals from around the country assembled to discuss the next steps for the movement. Representatives from the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox communities sat in the same room as those identifying as post or trans-denominational. The entire spectrum of the LGBTQ and straight community attempted to weigh the same contentious rights and principles. How can we create a safe environment for LGBTQ Jews and their friends and family?
Next week, the conversation continues as the World Congress of GLBT Jews will assemble in Los Angeles to share ideas, research, and thoughts while celebrating their identity on an international level. Surely, the decision from Judge Vaughn will color many of the conversations. On an international level, 76 countries declare it “illegal” to be gay. Israel is actually listed as one of the most progressive countries in the world with policies even American Gay Rights advocates would envy such as open military service for LGBTQ Israelis.
It seems pertinent that both of these historic events are taking place in California.
Recently, a Statement of Principles was released by a group of Orthodox rabbis regarding their stance on homosexuality (which when reposted by yours truly, happened to be the most popular & commented-on post in the Jewish Journal’s LGBTQ Blog called “Oy Gay”).
The responses within the Jewish LGBTQ community have been varied, with many feeling impressed by the openness and compassion requested by the Orthodox Rabbis and many wishing they would go further. There are also many in the Jewish community that still view homosexuality as a “shanda” (scandal).
Regardless of whether readers supported or disagreed with the statement, it was clear that the issue struck a chord. Conversations about what to do with our LGBTQ brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, parents and friends are happening all around the Shabbat Dinner table. For many, the fact that these conversations are taking place is in itself an achievement.
When speaking about this issue with a dear friend of mine Rabbi Amitai Adler, he pointed out something that really stuck with me:
“Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel used to say: the world is sustained by three things: by truth, by justice, and by peace, as it is written [Zechariah 8], ‘Truth and judgments of peace shall you adjudicate within your gates.’” It seems like today’s verdict certainly serves all three. And perhaps what is lacking in the Orthodox Statement of Principles is that it may seek peace, and it is perhaps motivated in part by truth, but it achieves little actual justice.
It is perhaps this reason that many LGBTQ Jews and their allies will see today’s ruling as a step forward that gives hope.
I personally hope that the continued debate around this issue in the state of California, on a national scale, and within the Jewish community is handled through a lens infused by the qualities we possess as children of Abraham: mercy and Gimilut Hasadim (acts of loving kindness).
May the Jewish Community realize that this is not just an advocacy issue; the protection of all families is a Jewish issue.
Janelle K. Eagle is an openly gay Jewish woman living in Los Angeles. She currently works at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and is a regular contributor to the Jewish Journal’s LGBTQ Blog “Oy Gay.” You can find more of her writing and credits at www.journeywithjanelle.com.
August 4, 2010 | 12:18 am
Posted by Tera Greene
Here we go again.
With bated breath I have waited for this day to come, and the Day of Decision for the federal trial of the Prop 8 challenge will be happening Wednesday Aug. 4, 2010. Why I care so much about this Prop 8 stuff and being on the front lines of it, when I feel like I’m in the back of the line when it comes to finding a true, genuine, loyal and communicative partner of my own, baffles me. It’s almost as baffling as trying to create a great foundation with someone - and it happens -, and then one day you find yourself dumped after a couple of years and the person who used to call you best friend doesn’t even want to say hi or hello once in a while - unless they want something. In a nutshell, the path to finding a love to call your own outside of self love is not always kind nor easy from my perspective; but for some reason, I gotta show up and show my support. It has to do with that little part of me who just can’t come to terms with the fact that I’ll end up alone, or that the silence exuding from the person whom you believe to be your soulmate isn’t because they lied about their ability to commit to anyone and is off flirting with people in spite of what they communicated to you, or did not. I suppose I just believe in love, but more so, I believe in the rights of people to be who they are and if they choose, I believe in their right (rite) to marry whomever they want, without politics. Literally.
I mean, I don’t see any LGBTQ people voting on straight marriages. Though, that would be the rub, now wouldn’t it?
So, here’s a great site to which you can see updates about gatherings for Decision Day. It is posted below through the most recent update (2 updates total), but you’re going to want to check back for more updates and to read their article with the links they have in the post.
Also, text EQUAL to 69866 to get the Decision Day verdict when its out tomorrow, if you like instant news via cell.
And if you’d like to see some of my past writings of marches since this all began, you can go to my E-Newsie archive - Pride & Freedom Issue.
To love and especially to life! But regardless of where you are in love, or in confusion, or in waiting or this or that, just remember to still be love and radiate your truths.
Prop 8 Decision to be Announced Wednesday - LAist
The judge presiding over the federal trial challenging Prop 8, which banned same sex marriage in California, will announce his decision on Wednesday, according to the Sacramento Bee. No specific release time has been mentioned, but sources close to the trial have told LAist that decisions can be released as early as 12 a.m. [Update: The decision will be filed sometime between 1 and 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to the court]
No matter the outcome, the decision is expected to be appealed.
Plans for a rally in West Hollywood have been in the works since last month, but organizers were waiting for a date. More details on events will come to light soon.
Update: “Expect the West Hollywood rally - on San Vicente Boulevard south of Santa Monica Boulevard - to begin at 7pm, however commuter travel is expected to slow earlier,” says WeHo News. At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday evening, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the case forward, said the WeHo rally may tentatively begin at 6 p.m.
Update #2: A rally with members from over 15 LGBT and ally community groups will also be held at Olvera Street from 8 to 10 p.m. “Members of Latino, Asian/Pacific-Islander, African-American, Middle-Eastern, LGBT and other communities gather to show their solidarity for social justice after the District Court announces its decision on Proposition 8, the California legislation that bans marriage between same-sex couples,” according to an advisory from the Latino Equality Alliance.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturns Prop 8 and deems it unconstitutional!!!
Judge strikes down Prop. 8, allows gay marriage in California [Updated]
August 4, 2010 | 1:48 pm
A federal judge in San Francisco decided today that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, striking down Proposition 8, the voter approved ballot measure that banned same-sex unions.
U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker said Proposition 8, passed by voters in November 2008, violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians to marry the partners of their choice. His ruling is expected to be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and then up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
[Updated at 1:54 p.m.: “Plaintiffs challenge Proposition 8 under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the judge wrote. “Each challenge is independently meritorious, as Proposition 8 both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.”
Vaughn added: “Plaintiffs seek to have the state recognize their committed relationships, and plaintiffs’ relationships are consistent with the core of the history, tradition and practice of marriage in the United States.“
Ultimately, the judge concluded that Proposition 8 “fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. … Because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”]
Walker, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, heard 16 witnesses summoned by opponents of Proposition 8 and two called by proponents during a 2½-week trial in January.
Walker’s historic ruling in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger relied heavily on the testimony he heard at trial. His ruling listed both factual findings and his conclusions about the law.
Voters approved the ban by a 52.3% margin six months after the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was permitted under the state Constitution.
MORE GREAT LINKS, MORE GREAT CHANCES TO LEARN AND COMMENT (and still more out there):
July 28, 2010 | 2:56 pm
Posted by Chanel Dubofsky
When I’m in Israel, I photograph graffiti- the political, the religious, the secular, the confusing, the desperate, manic scribblings on mailboxes and bus stops. A lot of it is new, some endures from years ago, like “homo=ill.”
I’m not surprised to see it, its Jerusalem, after all. Since I’ve been here, Anat Hoffman has been arrested for carrying a sefer Torah across the Kotel plaza. The other day, when a friend offered to teach me how to wrap tefillin, she told me for our own safety, it was better to do it behind closed doors in her apartment. At the same time as I’m desperately sad to leave, I’m finding myself frustrated by this city in a way I don’t remember before. Where are the progressives, the radical lefties? Where are the secular change makers? What would I do if I lived here? Who would be my people?
This Saturday marks the 1 year anniversary of the attack on the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association in which 2 people died and 13 were injured. It will be commemorated with a march and a unique dialogue-Israelis will travel to Berlin to meet with folks from a German gay youth center to hear one another’s stories, and strategize around protecting queer communities.
Tomorrow is also Jerusalem Pride. The strangeness of these two events happening in the same week is remarkable, the anniversary of a hate crime and a celebration of pride and strength. My flight from Israel to the States leaves just in time for me to miss Jerusalem Pride, and for that, I feel enormous regret. I want to be marching, I want to be part of building a better Jerusalem. I want new graffiti.
July 23, 2010 | 12:09 pm
Posted by Janelle Eagle
Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a
Homosexual Orientation in Our Community
For the last six months a number of Orthodox rabbis and educators have been preparing a statement of principles on the place of our brothers and sisters in our community who have a homosexual orientation.
The original draft was prepared by Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot. It was then commented upon by and revised based on the input from dozens of talmidei chachamim, educators, communal rabbis, mental health professionals and a number of individuals in our community who are homosexual in orientation.
Significant revisions were made based upon the input of Rabbi Aryeh Klapper and Rabbi Yitzchak Blau who were intimately involved in the process of editing and improving the document during the last three months.
The statement below is a consensus document arrived at after hundreds of hours of discussion,debate and editing. At the bottom, is the initial cohort of signators.
If you are an Orthodox rabbi, educator, or mental health professional and would like to add your signature to the current list, please send a short e-mail to:
firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address, cell phone number, and professional affiliation.
Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a
Homosexual Orientation in Our Community
We, the undersigned Orthodox rabbis, rashei yeshiva, ramim, Jewish educators and communal leaders affirm the following principles with regard to the place of Jews with a homosexual orientation in our community:
1. All human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (kevod haberiyot). Every Jew is obligated to fulfill the entire range of mitzvot between person and person in relation to persons who are homosexual or have feelings of same sex attraction. Embarrassing, harassing or demeaning someone with a homosexual orientation or same-sex attraction is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.
2. The question of whether sexual orientation is primarily genetic, or rather environmentally generated, is irrelevant to our obligation to treat human beings with same-sex attractions and orientations with dignity and respect.
3. Halakhah sees heterosexual marriage as the ideal model and sole legitimate outlet for human sexual expression. The sensitivity and understanding we properly express for human beings with other sexual orientations does not diminish our commitment to that principle.
4. Halakhic Judaism views all male and female same-sex sexual interactions as prohibited. The question of whether sexual orientation is primarily genetic, or rather environmentally generated, is irrelevant to this prohibition. While halakha categorizes various homosexual acts with different degrees of severity and opprobrium, including toeivah, this does not in any way imply that lesser acts are permitted. But it is critical to emphasize that halakha only prohibits homosexual acts; it does not prohibit orientation or feelings of same-sex attraction, and nothing in the Torah devalues the human beings who struggle with them. (We do not here address the issue of hirhurei aveirah, a halakhic category that goes beyond mere feelings and applies to all forms of sexuality and requires precise halakhic definition.)
5. Whatever the origin or cause of homosexual orientation, many individuals believe that for most people this orientation cannot be changed. Others believe that for most people it is a matter of free will. Similarly, while some mental health professionals and rabbis in the community strongly believe in the efficacy of “change therapies”, most of the mental health community, many rabbis, and most people with a homosexual orientation feel that some of these therapies are either ineffective or potentially damaging psychologically for many patients.
We affirm the religious right of those with a homosexual orientation to reject
therapeutic approaches they reasonably see as useless or dangerous.
6. Jews with a homosexual orientation who live in the Orthodox community confront serious emotional, communal and psychological challenges that cause them and their families great pain and suffering. For example, homosexual orientation may greatly increase the risk of suicide among teenagers in our community. Rabbis and communities need to be sensitive and empathetic to that reality. Rabbis and mental health professionals must provide responsible and ethical assistance to congregants and clients dealing with those human challenges.
7. Jews struggling to live their lives in accordance with halakhic values need and deserve our support. Accordingly, we believe that the decision as to whether to be open about one’s sexual orientation should be left to such individuals, who should consider their own needs and those of the community. We are opposed on ethical and moral grounds to both the “outing” of individuals who want to remain private and to coercing those who desire to be open about their orientation to keep it hidden.
8. Accordingly, Jews with homosexual orientations or same sex-attractions should be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community. As appropriate with regard to gender and lineage, they should participate and count ritually, be eligible for ritual synagogue honors, and generally be treated in the same fashion and under the same halakhic and hashkafic framework as any other member of the synagogue they join. Conversely, they must accept and fulfill all the responsibilities of such membership, including those generated by communal norms or broad Jewish principles that go beyond formal halakhah.
We do not here address what synagogues should do about accepting members
who are openly practicing homosexuals and/or living with a same-sex partner.
Each synagogue together with its rabbi must establish its own standard with
regard to membership for open violators of halakha.
Those standards should be applied fairly and objectively.
9. Halakha articulates very exacting criteria and standards of eligibility for particular religious offices, such as officially appointed cantor during the year or baal tefillah on the High Holidays. Among the most important of those criteria is that the entire congregation must be fully comfortable with having that person serve as its representative. This legitimately prevents even the most admirable individuals, who are otherwise perfectly fit halakhically, from serving in those roles. It is the responsibility of the lay and rabbinic leadership in each individual community to determine eligibility for those offices in line with those principles, the importance of maintaining communal harmony, and the unique context of its community culture.
10. Jews with a homosexual orientation or same sex attraction, even if they engage in same sex interactions, should be encouraged to fulfill mitzvot to the best of their ability. All Jews are challenged to fulfill mitzvot to the best of their ability, and the attitude of “all or nothing” was not the traditional approach adopted by the majority of halakhic thinkers and poskim throughout the ages.
11. Halakhic Judaism cannot give its blessing and imprimatur to Jewish religious
same-sex commitment ceremonies and weddings, and halakhic values proscribe individuals and communities from encouraging practices that grant religious legitimacy to gay marriage and couplehood. But communities should display sensitivity, acceptance and full embrace of the adopted or biological children of homosexually active Jews in the synagogue and school setting, and we encourage parents and family of homosexually partnered Jews to make every effort to maintain harmonious family relations and connections.
12. Jews who have an exclusively homosexual orientation should, under most circumstances, not be encouraged to marry someone of the other gender, as
this can lead to great tragedy, unrequited love, shame, dishonesty and ruined
lives. They should be directed to contribute to Jewish and general society in
other meaningful ways. Any such person who is planning to marry someone of
the opposite gender is halakhically and ethically required to fully inform their
potential spouse of their sexual orientation.
We hope and pray that by sharing these thoughts we will help the Orthodox
community to fully live out its commitment to the principles and values of
Torah and Halakha as practiced and cherished by the children of Abraham, who
our sages teach us are recognized by the qualities of being rahamanim
(merciful), bayshanim (modest), and gomelei hasadim
engaging in acts of loving-kindness).
(as of 7/23/10)
Rabbi Yosef Adler
Rabbi Elisha Anscelovits
Rabbi Hayyim Angel
Rabbi Marc Angel
Rabbi Maurice Appelbaum
Mrs. Nechama Goldman Barash
Rabbi Avi Baumol
Rabbi Dr. Shalom Berger
Rabbi Dr. Joshua Berman
Rabbi Todd Berman
Dr. David Bernstein
Rabbi David Bigman
Rabbi Yitzchak Blau
Dr. Erica Brown
Rabbi Yuval Cherlow
Rabbi Mark Dratch
Rabbi Ira Ebbin
Rabbi Rafi Eis
Mrs. Atara Eis
Rabbi Yitzhak Etshalom
Rabbi Dr. Shaul (Seth) Farber
Ms. Rachel Feingold
Rabbi Jeffrey Fox
Rabbi Aaron Frank
Rabbi Aharon Frazier
Rabbi Avidan Freedman
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin
Rabbi Mark Gottlieb
Rabbi Barry Gelman
Rabbi Benjamin Greenberg
Rabbi Zvi Grumet
Rabbi Alan Haber
Dr. Aviad Hacohen
Rabbi Tully Harcsztark
Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot
Rabbi Josh Hess
Dr. Daniel Kahn
Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky
Rabbi Jay Kellman
Rabbi Aryeh Klapper
Mrs. Judy Klitsner
Rabbi Shmuel Klitsner
Rabbi Jeff Kobrin
Dr. Aaron Koller
Rabbi Barry Kornblau
Dr. Meesh Hammer Kossoy
Rabbi Binny Krauss
Mrs. Esther Krauss
Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau
Rabbi Zvi Leshem
Rabbi Dr. Martin Lockshin
Rabbi Dr. Haskel Lookstein
Rabbi Asher Lopatin
Rabbi Chaim Marder
Rabbi Dr. Adam Mintz
Rabbi Jonathan Morgenstern
Rabbi Dr. Yaacov Nagen (Genack)
Mrs. C.B. Neugroschl
Rabbi Yossi Pollak
Dr. Caroline Pyser
Rabbi Daniel Reifman
Rabbi Avi Robinson
Rabii Chaim Sacknovitz
Rabbi Jeremy Savitsky
Rabbi Noam Shapiro
Rabbi Yehuda Seif
Rabbi Adam Schier
Ms. Lisa Schlaff
Rabbi Yehuda Septimus
Rabbi Yair Silverman
Rabbi Adam Starr
Rabbi Chaim Strauchler
Rabbi Yehuda Sussman
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
Rabbi Jacob Traub
Rabbi Zach Truboff
Mrs. Dara Unterberg
Rabbi Michael Unterberg
Rabbi Dr. Avie Walfish
Dr. Dina Weiner
Ms. Sara Weinerman
Rabbi David Wolkenfeld
Rabbi Elie Weinstock
Rabbi Alan Yuter
Dr. Yael Ziegler
Rabbi Dr. Stuart Zweiter
July 22, 2010 | 4:59 pm
Posted by Tera Greene
I don’t know if you guys have been keeping up with the new bill that is being proposed by the Ultra-Orthodox Shas party that will basically deny the right of a convert to make Aliyah (return back to Israel/Citizenship), but it really has me thinking of how sad it is that anyone feels they have the right to deny people so blatantly, causing rifts and unnecessary schisms amongst humans. True, I believe in screening people to insure they have the best interests of your home and Person at heart (I mean, I don’t just let anyone come into my abode), but I also subscribe to the adage of doing unto others as you’d want them to do unto you (I paraphrase The Golden Rule).
I look back at just how many rules of denying identity could be applied to me if they were still in effect - and some are -, and if this law were to pass, well, here’s what I’d have to offer in life, as a 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd class citizen:
As a woman, I’d definitely not be able to vote, and true to form, we still don’t have complete equal rights (and even less depending where you are in the world), but I most-certainly would only be able to be a housemaid of some sort, with no schooling or option of schooling. Just having babies, no matter how cute I think they are, would drive me crazy. Beyonce and her army of Independent Women wouldn’t last a day…
But, before being considered a woman, I’d just be Black. Never mind I have Irish and Native American blood; I’d be a slave and certainly still wouldn’t be able to vote. As someone who has worked for the Census in 2000 and 2010, when it came to the enumeration process way back when, if I were lucky, I’d maybe be part of the 3/5th of the population who were able to be counted. Yes, contrary to belief, the Constitution did not define slaves as 3/5ths of a person; instead, it counted them as 3/5ths toward representation to straddle the lines between those that wanted to count slaves as full people, and those who wanted nothing to do with a slave being represented. (The three-fifths compromise is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the US Constitution). I’m curious if this was ever amended to reflect a full 100% of the population needed to be represented (though, many Blacks choose not to be counted anyway).
And what of being a homosexual? Currently Canada, The Netherlands (Holland), Belgium, Portugal, Iceland, Spain, South Africa, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Mexico, Argentina are the only places you can legally get married as a gay individual. And there are other places that will at least recognize same sex couples, including the UK, Germany, Norway, Iceland, and Israel. I’ve purposely left out California, though I live here now, because come November, if marijuana passes it’s legality of rights, I’ll be really perturbed that a dang plant has more acknowledgement that me in this state called Cali. And I’m a vegetarian, for pete’s sake, with funny hair and the last name of Greene! Joking aside, and outside of the idea of subscribing to the institution marriage, as a homosexual, there are still utter bigots who kill, bludgeon and bully LGBTQ individuals, no matter their age, status or religious/spiritual views and practices.
So, how much more identity denying could there possibly be, you ask? Well, as a convert, with Israel’s new bill, I would be denied a place to live that I feel is so beautiful and so my vibe, if I were to choose to want to make Aliyah one day (and I’ve thought of it). It’s offensive on so many levels, starting with the foundations of Judaism resting upon G-d, Torah and Israel. Torah, specifically, you have the whole entire Book of Ruth, but more basically, Jews were the first to proselytize for Converts. (See also Genesis 12.5 in the Tanakh, “..., and the persons that they had acquired in Haran”, which speaks of the people they had acquired, which means converted; and Book of Ruth 1.14, “,... and your G-d, my G-d”, which tells of how back in day, all you had to profess was that the ethical monotheistic One G-d was your G-d to be accepted into the fold).
Biblical scriptures aside, in a nutshell, I’m just tired of being Denied, even if it’s just an attempt to do so that never comes to fruition. Though, history has proven that denying a People their rights somehow finds its way to light, and I ponder When will history stop repeating itself?. It’s as ridiculous to hear anyone try to say someone can not do or Be within the Jewish sect, as it is to hear that Christians follow the Commandments, because even before we get into the act of breaking the laws, the majority don’t even acknowledge the first one: “I the Lord and your G-d who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage…” (Exodus 20.1). When it’s a denying from the people that are of your own Tribe or family, it’s a big slap in the face, especially when many of those people who this specific law would not apply to were born Jewish, but don’t follow traditions, and don’t even prescribe to the foundations of Judaism, even in part. I have a lot to offer, and all these laws that we create upon each other just to feel so Big and Powerful and therefore alienate the people who will help us grow and live in longevity within our microcosm of communities and larger global society as a whole, cause me a pain in my stomach. True, not everyone will invite you to their table, and you can always be bold to invite yourself; but what’s the point of being pro anything that doesn’t want to recognize you and/or the things you contribute to its well-being as a Peoplehood? I’m not saying I’ll definitely want to live in Israel, but it’s a thought, and with this bill, I feel saddened that I could possibly be denied, yet again, simply because humans have become so Power-mongering that they forget the simple, yet more powerful might of The Golden Rule.