Friday, May 31, 2013

MY RESPONSE: "Orthodox Jews Should Not March Alongside the LGBT Sunday"- The Jewish Press


     I am not surprised that The Jewish Press published this article. This is the same publication that has ads for JONAH, the organization denounced by the RCA that works to change people from Gay to Straight.

     As far as this ridiculous (so-called) ban, people can have different views. For those that hold that homosexual sex is a sin, a group that identifies as gay does not violate that. Identity vs. action is a huge difference in Jewish law.

     Rabbi Eliyahu Fink said in his comment,"Have any of these rabbis ever approved of the parade? Their people don't go to the parade anyway. What's the point of this?"

     And banner of Orthodoxy? Like we need to pick up a license from the Rebbe to say we are or not? Paleeaaassee... If we had to do that, we would hardly have anyone called orthodox left.

     Lastly, it is the Israeli day parade. It is not the orthodox parade. It is the parade for all those that support Israel.

-Rich Dweck 

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: 5/31/13 by Alan Betsalel Friedlander- Jewish Press

Monday, May 27, 2013

Shomer Negiyah for those with same-sex attraction? “No Touching!” by Ben Schneider

5/26/13- Full integration of queer people into observant Jewish life will require unique restrictions as well as unique leniencies. The presence of one without the other doesn’t seem to align with Jewish thought. In every area where Jews set ourselves apart, privilege comes with restriction. Shabbat is reserved for princely rest, but controlled with a long list of prohibited activities. Observing kashrut while traveling is costly and sometimes difficult, but rewards those who do with community wherever they may find themselves. Heterosexual sex has the potential for holiness, but only if the biological restrictions of niddah are followed.

The idea of fighting for unique leniencies for queer people (loosening restrictions on same-sex sexual contact) without also fighting for special restrictions also opens up queer people to the criticism that we’re just ignoring or denying certain parts of halacha. I can’t think of what I’m doing in that way, and if the most satisfying answer that can be given for the parts of halacha that conflict with a queer identity is to ignore them, then I don’t understand how anyone can claim that it is now possible to live as observant and actively queer. I don’t want to ignore halacha; I want to figure out how halacha applies to this category of people who aren’t addressed in the Hebrew Bible: men who are predominantly attracted to men and women who are predominantly attracted to women.   
Continue reading article at:
AndIfNotNowWhen? blog

Sunday, May 26, 2013

"Orthodox Parents, United by Love of Torah… and Our LGBT Children" -My Jewish Learning

05/2013- A series by Jewish moms and dads with LGBTQ children.
When a child comes out, a coming out process begins for the entire family. In honor of Mother’s and Father’s Day, we bring you our second post in a series by parent leaders of Keshet’s Parent & Family Connection. The Connection is a confidential peer support program for parents and family members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Jews. We celebrate the support and love that these parents give their LGBTQ children – and the support they now offer other parents. This week’s post is by “MBSD,” an Orthodox parent from Baltimore, MD. You can read the previous post in this series, by a mother of a queer daughter in Colorado, here.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Orthodox Rabbi Barry Dolinger responds to right wing Matzav website for attacking his support for same-sex marriage: "In Response to the "Matzav'"

MY RESPONSE: Thank you Rabbi Dolinger for sticking to your guns and not backing down. You are a man of conviction and one that understands the holistic picture.

The problem with the right wing charedim today is that they are robots. They get upset when you are not quoting the rabbis they hold in high regard. If you have an opinion, then you are a heretic. 

This is going on in Jewish communities around the world and I am sad to say that way too many rabbis back down after being attacked, because they are afraid of the repercussions. The fear paralyzes them and they end up becoming irrelevant. Again, thank you for speaking up and not backing down! by Rich Dweck

ORIGINAL ARTICLE by Rabbi Dolinger: 5/23/13- Today, I was attacked in an ad-hominem way on the popular "Charedi" news website  You can read the article here.  I have submitted the following letter in response to the editor, and assume they will publish it.  After all, it's a general rule in journalism that one who is attacked is given a right of response.  I publish my letter publicly because I was attacked in a public forum. 

Dear Concerned Yid,

CONTROVERSY: "Orthodox Rabbi Barry Dolinger Testifies in Support of RI Same-Gender Marriage Equality"-

MY RESPONSE: This is absurd!The author did not even have the decency to sign his name. It is cowardly and totally disrespectful to call someone out and ask for them to be condemned when you can't even sign your name. 

Many orthodox rabbis have echoed the same sentiment publicly. 

This is about standing up for others. If we only did this more often, we would be doing the work of God. God wants us out there being a part of the world, not in a closed off hole in the wall. Judaism does not proselytize. 

No religion should be involved in whether or not the United States of America legalizes same-sex marriage, unless it forces them to perform them. 

Rabbi Dolinger was clear in his testimony. No clergy of any religion will be forced to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony. 

He did the right thing and should be praised not condemned!    by Rich Dweck

ORIGINAL ARTICLE from Thursday May 23, 2013 4:23 PM 
Dear friends,
A few weeks ago, the state of Rhode Island changed its laws and recognized toeivah ‘marriage’. Earlier, when the bill was being debated, an Orthodox rabbi, testified in public, in the RI State Senate, in favor of the recognizing same-gender marriage, andwas also quoted in the press along those lines.
The rabbi grew up non-Orthodox and it seems that he still retains some of the liberal beliefs of that background. He is also affiliated with the IRF, International Rabbinic Fellowship, an left-wing rabbinical organization.
I post sources for readers to follow. The first contains a video of Rabbi Dolinger’s testimony:
Rabbi Dolinger was raised in North Bellmore, a small town on the South Shore of Long Island. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in political science and minored in Ancient Near Eastern Studies. Afterwards, he spent a year studying at Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh in Israel. He received semichah from Yeshiva University in 2011, and graduated from Fordham Law School. Currently, he serves as the rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom, an Orthodox community on the East Side of Providence, RI, where he lives with his wife, Naomi.
I believe Rabbi Dolinger should be held accountable for such a chillul Hashem. He is a young man, in his twenties, so one might say that he has yet to attain wisdom, but still, as an Orthodox rabbi, and prominently advertising that fact, he should know enough to not act so recklessly in allying himself with forces of tumah.
I realize that perhaps he has escaped censure so far due to his actions not being widely known in the Jewish centers of New York and elsewhere, but, nevertheless, such actions should not be tolerated or ignored. There should at least be public condemnation of them.
A Concerned Yid

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Meet the Maharats: Questions for Ruth Balinsky Friedman" Moment Magazine

Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman
5/21/13 by Sarah Breger- In June the inaugural class of Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to train Orthodox women as spiritual leaders and halakhic authorities, will graduate. The three graduates who have spent the past four years studying Jewish law and ritual as well as pastoral counseling and leadership training will earn the title Maharat (Manhiga Hilchatit Ruchanit Toranit) and become spiritual leaders for the Orthodox community.
I spoke with one of the soon-to-be Maharat, Ruth Balinsky Friedman, last week at the Drisha Institute for Jewish education in New York City. After graduation Friedman will join the staff of Congregation Ohev Sholom —The National Synagogue in Washington, DC

"Harvey: Gays Deserve To Be Fired Because They 'Insist On Displaying [Their] Lifestyles To Everyone'"

5/21/13- by Brian Tashman- Mission America’s Linda Harvey reiterated her belief that schools, and employers in general, should have the right to fire LGBT personnel and urged them to exercise that right. She said that the only person to blame for getting fired is the LGBT employee who refuses to accept their employer’s “high moral standards” and “insist[s] on displaying these lifestyles to everyone and forcing their acceptance.” She said that “no one needs to be involved in homosexuality” and that the “homosexual lifestyle” is incompatible with being “an excellent employee” as it “shows a disrespect” to others.

"Modern-Day Rabbi Must Be CEO, Teacher and Spiritual Leader at Once"- The Forward

Jessica Minnen
5/13/13 by Anne Cohen- Last fall, Jessica Minnen, a rabbinical student at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary, was on her way to officiate at a wedding in Brooklyn. What started out as an ordinary ride on the A train turned into a spiritual revelation about the 21st-century rabbinate.

Minnen was quietly reviewing a course catalog for a new kind of Hebrew school when she noticed a woman, sitting with her son, who shyly asked her about the document.

As Minnen explained, the woman acknowledged that although she is Jewish, her child hadn’t gone to a Jewish school. By the time the train arrived in Brooklyn, Minnen had played three rabbinical roles: congregation leader, educator and counselor.

What Chief Rabbi Mirvis of England can do to make a difference by Dr. Ben Elton of YCT

England's Chief Rabbi Mirvis

1/3/13 The white smoke has gone up. Ephraim Mirvis is to be the seventh Chief Rabbi since the office was established in 1845. He is an unusual choice. He is 10 years older than most of his predecessors were when they started and is known as a pastor rather than a scholar. However, that brings certain advantages.
He will have a 10-year stint, which is long enough to make a difference without becoming bogged down or burnt out. He will make a change after a chief rabbinate which was more outward and less inward-looking. But like every chief rabbi, he will assume office with a list of pressing issues he will need to tackle. Most affiliating Jews (and many non-affiliating) still look to the chief rabbinate for religious leadership. If he is going to retain and increase that following, he must act swiftly and boldly in five areas.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Rich Dweck: "Speak up or stay silent at the coffee shop?"

      5/13/2013- This afternoon I was in a coffee shop in Bethesda, Maryland. I was sitting and enjoying a wonderful cup of Joe and finishing one of my final papers for school when put in an awkward situation. A man started to yell at this homeless man through the window. He called him a nigger. When the homeless man walked in to the coffee shop to find out why the man was so belligerent, the man in the coffee shop started calling him a schizophrenic and so on. I was shocked at this mans comments to the homeless man. Do I say something? Do I wait until after the homeless man leaves? Do I just keep to myself as if nothing happened?

      As a part of two communities that have been and continue to be victims of persecution, I can only think about doing whats right. Being a Jew and a member of the LGBTQ community I know that I must stand up in the face of injustice. If I stand idly by while others are discriminated against or persecuted, am I saying that it's ok to discriminate. Should I sit and watch while someone calls someone a nigger and say nothing? Does not silence=acceptance?

      Furthermore, being someone who is studying psychology I know how insensitive it is to call someone a schizophrenic. This is a  real mental illness that has a ton of stigma attached to it. Calling someone a schizophrenic only perpetuates this stigma and makes it harder for those with this illness to seek treatment because the shame attached.

      I know I should speak up, but what if this puts me in danger? It is hard not to think of the word kyke or fag when someone says nigger. We are taught to try and put ourselves in the shoes of others, but do we? Should we look at the risk vs. reward? What if this man had a gun? What if he was mentally ill and I am putting myself in harms way? When is it an imperative to speak up and when is it important to stay silent? I had to answer these hard questions today. Now, I leave you with the questions  to find your own answers.

My Response to: "Delegitimizing Pro-Palestinian Queer Voices" by Brandon Davis- The Daily Beast

Rich Dweck response to this insanity!- 5/13/13 The bottom line is if LGBTQ people look at the Middle East and try and ally themselves with Pro-Palestinian lobby in order to align themselves with underdogs need to look at the whole picture. Israel offers more gay rights to LGBTQ people than anywhere else in the middle east. If the Palestinians were given the entire state of Israel, then this would only secure an ANTI-LGBTQ state that will persecute LGBTQ people like the other Arab countries."

"Think a little about the entire picture, before you think you are taking the sides of those you think are the underdogs! It is like being in America as an LGBTQ person and voting for the Republicans. Voting for those that persecute you is the antithesis of what we should be doing as an LGBTQ person. We have to stand up for our rights and support those that support us. You can call what Israel is doing as Apartheid and more, but get the full story. Understand both sides before you start calling Israel the persecutors!

Article in the Daily Beast- 5/1/2013- In the last eight years, the Israeli government has sought to rebrand Israel as a “liberal haven” for gay rights in an otherwise-homophobic Middle East as a means of increasing tourism and international goodwill. Critics refer to the campaign as “pinkwashing,” an attempt to whitewash the Israeli occupation by focusing on gay and lesbian issues. Many of these critics are queer people themselves, and their movement against Israeli policies is building within the LGBT community. But recent pro-Israel initiatives hope to change that; rather than simply promoting Israeli gay images in the international sphere, these Israel advocates are actually attempting to sanitize LGBTQ spaces of pro-Palestinian activism entirely.

Video in Hebrew: "Openly Gay Israeli Politician Announces Run For Mayor Of Tel Aviv" by Matthew Tharrett- Queerty

5/8/2013 Horowitz’s announcement in Hebrew:

Could it be time for the gayest little outpost in the Middle East to get its very first openly gay mayor? In 2009, 48-year-old former journalist Nitzan Horowitz became the second openly gay Knesset member in Israel’s history, and became the first to conduct unofficial same-sex marriage ceremonies in protest of anti-gay comments made by Chief Rabbinate Eli Ben Dahan.

If elected in October’s elections, Horowitz will become the very first openly gay mayor not only of Tel Aviv, but of any city in Israel. In a press release announcing his candidacy, Horowitz told reports about his love for Tel Aviv, and his plans to tackle rising real estate prices, reform mass transit, and introduce new city planning for overcrowded neighborhoods.

"The Mouse That Had Two Dads" By Maia Szalavitz Time Magazine

12/14/10 - Reproduction is getting so complicated. In the old days, you had only two biological parents — Mom and Dad. But now, up to two women (three if you count a surrogate carrier) can be the biological mothers of one baby. As far as biological fathers go, though, it’s always been one per child, except in very rare genetic conditions — until recently, that is.
A mouse with two dads could change that — although the technique used to produce this mouse is a very long way from being practical or ethical in humans. The research, which produced both male and female mice with genetic material from two fathers, was just published in the journal Biology of Reproduction. The procedure was incredibly complex, creating offspring with multiple possible parents. 
“It was a weird project but we wanted to see if it could be done,” lead researcher Richard Behringer told the Wall Street Journal.

Rabbi Herzfeld D'var Torah: "The Sin of Indifference" Agunot

The Sin of Indifference
Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Shalom, The National Synagogue in Washington, D.C. 
Shavuot 5773

Monday, May 6, 2013

"Gay Jews Need More Than Tolerance" by Benjamin Schneider

5/1/13 The Jewish Week- I write in response to Stuart Kurlander’s Opinion piece, “Door Is Wide Open For Gay Jews To Be Leaders” (April 26).
I am a 21-year-old observant gay Jew actively involved in my campus Hillel. I fear that articles like this one proclaiming that LGBT Jews “have arrived” serve as a counterproductive distraction to the real issues that remains to be dealt with in making Jewish institutions more welcoming to the LGBT community.
Kurlander’s dilemma is a product of the at-best lukewarm acceptance that existed when his generation was coming of age in Jewish organizations. This situation has absolutely changed in the Reform movement, but the Conservative movement is only beginning to address it, and Orthodoxy has not even started to talk about what comes next after “tolerance.” Even if mainstream Jewish organizations are better at inclusion today, they are by and large still not good. 

"New York’s New Firebrand Rabbi" For Sharon Kleinbaum—friend of Christine Quinn, partner to Randi Weingarten—the personal is political

5/3/13 by Allison Hoffman, Tablet Magazine- Last winter, Sharon Kleinbaum, the firebrand rabbi of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah—the country’s largest and best-known gay synagogue—marked her 20th anniversary in the pulpit with a Hanukkah celebration headlined by the actress Cynthia Nixon, who has been active in gay-rights and a regular guest at the synagogue. 
The evening featured a panel with the political writer Frank Rich, a longtime congregant, and an appearance by Christine Quinn, New York’s City Council Speaker, who came to present Kleinbaum with an official city proclamation. “She is one of the favorite religious leaders in my household,” Quinn told the crowd. “I’ve never seen her at an event or at a function or on the street or wherever where she hasn’t gone out of her way to give me—you’d think she was a bear, that’s what you get from this little woman, I always get that hug.”
On cue, Kleinbaum dashed onstage and wrapped her arms around Quinn, New York’s first female and first openly gay political leader and currently the front-running candidate to succeed Michael Bloomberg as mayor. Then the rabbi turned and made her way back to her seat in the audience next to the other political powerhouse in the room: the labor leader Randi Weingarten, who is head of the American Federation of Teachers, a close friend of the Clintons, and Kleinbaum’s romantic partner. As she sat down, Kleinbaum gave Weingarten an exuberant kiss that was audible from the balcony of the crowded auditorium, at John Jay College near Lincoln Center.
Kleinbaum is hardly the only religious leader in New York who balances a public record of spirited demonstrations and arrests with serious insider pull; the Rev. Al Sharpton practically defines the form, and other Jewish leaders, including Rabbi Avi Weiss, have adopted the model as well. But this, in many ways, is Kleinbaum’s moment: a year in which many of the issues moving the city and the country—same-sex marriage, income inequality, civil liberties—are ones Kleinbaum has long made her own, and in which those closest to the rabbi are politically ascendant.

"A Gay, Orthodox Jewish R&B Singer" by Amy Kellner of

Ari Gold 
I’ve known Ari Gold since we were ten. We went to an Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva together. He was my first big crush because he sang jingles for TV commercials and we both loved Madonna, which, in the Orthodox community, automatically made us freaks. And which, as I of course didn’t realize at the time, made Ari gay. Flash forward 20 years and I’m working at a magazine called Vice while Ari is a successful, dance-chart-topping, out R&B singer who is inclined to perform topless, greased-up, and in a wrestler’s mask, while singing songs with Yiddish lyrics. Like our parents often say, “Oy! Why us? Everyone else grew up normal, why do you have to be so different?” Well, let’s find out.

"Orthosexuality" By Elli Fischer

12/19/11 Jewish Ideas Daily- The Talmud tells a story about one Rabbi Kahana who hid under the bed of his master, Rabbi Abba (better known as Rav), as the latter was having sex with his wife. Kahana, shocked at the type of frivolous language used by his mentor, commented that Rav was behaving ravenously. Rav exclaimed, "Kahana, you're here? Get out! It's not proper!" Kahana replied, "It is Torah—and study it I must."
It is not easy to discern who gets the last word in this jarring little aggadah (indeed, it appears in several places in the Babylonian Talmud—sometimes with and sometimes without Kahana's ultimate proclamation). There is a clear tension between propriety and modesty on one hand, and the religious requirement to understand sexuality on the other.
The balance between these two values has varied from community to community and era to era, and there have certainly been Jewish communities far more prudish than the Talmud's. Yet in contemporary society, characterized by unprecedented sexual casualness, shifts within the Jewish community toward greater openness go unnoticed. Public perception has tended to relate to several controversies that recently erupted within the American Modern Orthodox community—one relating to an Orthodox college student's article about a one-night stand and another pertaining to an Orthodox-style homosexual commitment ceremony in Washington, D.C.—as evidence of cloistering and repression within this community. In truth, however, there has been a subtle but dramatic shift toward greater openness about sexuality in the Modern Orthodox world over the past decade or so.

"Sephardi Stories, on the Record"- The Sephardi Voices history project collects testimony from Jews who fled Arab lands after Israel was founded

5/1/13 by Adi Schwartz, Tablet Magazine-  “Sometimes I still have nightmares,” says Juliette Glaser to her interviewer, as she sits in front of a video camera in her Miami living room, recalling in a confident voice her childhood memories from Cairo—where she was born in 1941 and which she fled 15 years later. “They were putting the city on fire during the revolution of 1952. They were getting rid of King Farouk. The city was black, and there was fire everywhere. I remember Egyptians walking in the streets, holding big knives, saying, ‘We’re going to kill the Jews, where are the Jews? Any Jews around here?’ And we would hide in the basement, turn all the lights off, just shivering, shaking of fear.”
The anti-Jewish policies continued to get worse in Egypt, and in the wake of the Sinai Campaign in 1956, her father, like many other Jews, was given 48 hours to leave the country. With only one suitcase for each family member, Glaser, her parents, and her three siblings left for France and later the United States.

"Teaching Orthodox Couples About Sexual Dysfunction" by Chavie Lieber

5/1/13 The Forward- Sexual dysfunctions within relationships are more common than ever today, with an estimated 30% of women suffering from conditions related to painful intercourse like vaginismus, dyspareunia, and vulvodynia. Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, a marital and family therapist from Brooklyn who specializes in Orthodox couples, has just released a new book, “Getting Closer,”which offers a glimpse of sexual dysfunction issues — from painful intercourse to erectile dysfunction to desire disorders — within the Orthodox community.
Schonbuch discusses marital intimacy using an approach called Emotionally Focused Therapy to help Orthodox couples through difficulties in intimacy, which can be the underlying issue of much of marital stress. The Sisterhood spoke with him about his new book and some of the unique issues the Orthodox community faces. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

"Homosexuality: Another Orthodox Perspective" by Dr. Alan Jotkowitz (Torah Musings)

5/1/13- In the course of a relatively brief time, homosexual relationships have gained recognition and acceptance in Western liberal society as completely normal expressions of human love and sexuality. This is manifested by the growing recognition of gay marriage in many American states and European countries and the appearance of openly gay politicians, athletes and celebrities. The reasons for this change in attitude are beyond the scope of this essay but the impact of the devastating AIDS epidemic may have played a significant role in shifting public opinion. 

This is not the case in many Arab and African countries, where many openly gay citizens live under constant threat and homosexuality is illegal, sometimes even carrying the death penalty. There has likewise been a change in the attitude of many religions towards homosexuality and homosexuals. In many Christian denominations, openly gay individuals can serve as clergy and homosexuals can marry with the Church’s blessing. There has likewise been a change in Jewish attitudes toward homosexuality. Reform and Conservative rabbinical schools now accept gay students and many rabbis perform gay marriages. There has also been a sea change in attitudes towards homosexuality in many Orthodox communities.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, expressing a not uncommon opinion, wrote in the 1970s:
To speak of a desire for homosexual intimacy is a contradiction in terms. In essence, the wicked also have no desire for this, rather the desire is only to do something which is forbidden. The evil inclination entices the person to rebel against the will of the Holy One Blessed Be He.[1]
And now witness, for example, the recent public discussion at Yeshiva University on the difficulties of being gay in the Orthodox world and the Statement of Principles with its message of tolerance and respect toward homosexuals, which has been signed by over one hundred Orthodox rabbis.[2] Notwithstanding these changes, many homosexuals would like to be accepted with their families as part of the Orthodox community.

Historical Perspective

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Gay Marchers Spark Celebrate Israel Parade Boycott Threat Yeshivas Agree To Allow Gays To Participate in Annual Event"

4/30/13 By Josh Nathan-Kazis The Forward-
An Orthodox activist has launched an effort to boycott New York’s Celebrate Israel parade for allowing gay and lesbian groups to participate, despite a reported agreement among Orthodox yeshivas not to object to the gay groups.
Avi Goldstein, a Orthodox Jew from Long Island, called for the boycott of the June 2 parade in a lengthy letter circulated in the Modern Orthodox community. In his letter, Goldstein writes that gay groups’ participation “compromised the moral integrity of the parade.”
Yet Goldstein’s effort appears doomed from the start. Goldstein reports in his own letter that a group of Jewish day schools principals agreed that they would not object to the gay organizations marching in the parade at a recent meeting attended by a representative of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York , which organizes the annual Celebrate Israel event.
A spokesperson for the JCRC would only confirm that the meeting took place. Rabbi Ellis Bloch, a staff member at the Jewish Education Project, which coordinated the meeting, would not comment on the meetings’ content.
This Celebrate Israel parade draws tens of thousands to Manhattan’s 5th Avenue each Spring. This year’s parade marks the second year in which gay Jewish organizations have marched openly. Before 2012, efforts by the gay and lesbian synagogue Congregation Beit Simchat Torah were met with a demand that the group not march with a banner that used the word “gay” or “lesbian.”
Mordechai Levovitz, co-director and founder of Jewish Queer Youth, which marched last year, said that he expects the 150 people to march with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender contingent this year. Gay and lesbian groups participating in the 2013 parade include Levovitz’s group, CBST, A Wider Bridge, and Eshel.
Though the parade is organized by the nondenominational JCRC, participation is heavily Modern Orthodox. Three quarters of the Jewish day schools that marched in 2011 were Modern Orthodox, according to a 2012 Forward report.

Video: "Orthodox Rabbi Barry Dolinger testifies in support of RI State Marriage Equality"

Rabbi Barry Dolinger testifying in support civil gay marriage in front of the senate committee of Rhode Island...

"US Jews among the most supportive of gay marriage"- Times of Israel

4/27/13 by Haviv Rettig GurPew figures show 76% of Jews support legalizing gay marriage, higher than all but the youngest and most liberal of Democrats

American Jews show among the highest levels of support for gay marriage, from all American subgroups measured in recent polls, according to figures published this week by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
According to five polls of Americans in 2012 and 2013, with the most recent conducted in March 2013, 76 percent of US Jews support legalizing same-sex marriage, while 18% oppose and 8% did not express an opinion.
The figure is remarkably high, particularly when compared to the number of Protestants (34%) and Catholics (53%) who support same-sex marriage.
Jewish support is higher than the support among Democrats (61%), self-described “liberals” (72%), and even among Americans without religious affiliation (75%).

"The New ‘Morethodox’ Rabbi Asher Lopatin succeeds Avi Weiss at an influential seminary, offering a pluralistic version of Orthodoxy"

Rabbi Lopatin speaks at the
Yehsivat Chovevei Torah gala dinner.
Avi Weiss has always been known as an unapologetic revolutionary. As a young Orthodox rabbi in the 1960s and ’70s, he was instrumental in helping build the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, a movement predicated on the idea that established Jewish institutions were doing too little to help their brethren behind the Iron Curtain. 
In 1985, he led a group of Jews in a guerrilla Shabbat service at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, a historic and intentionally symbolic episode organized in protest of President Reagan’s visit to a war cemetery at Bitburg, where members of the SS were buried, during a state visit to Germany. Four years later, months before the collapse of communism across Eastern Europe, Weiss and six others were physically attacked after they scaled the walls of a Carmelite convent that had been built at Auschwitz and conducted an impromptu Torah study session in objection to the Catholic presence at the site of so much Jewish death. Weiss’ arrest record is legendary and stretches from New York to Oslo, Norway, where he was detained in 1994 while demonstrating against Yasser Arafat’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1999, Weiss broke with Yeshiva University, his intellectual home and the headquarters of Modern Orthodoxy, to start his own rabbinic seminary in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, under the banner of what Weiss termed Open Orthodoxy: the view that stringent observance of Jewish religious law in the modern world should co-exist with ideological flexibility on a range of questions, particularly concerning the role of women and Jewish denominational pluralism. Four years ago, Weiss took his rebellion one step further and founded Yeshivat Maharat, a women’s seminary, headed by his protégé Sara Hurwitz, the first American Orthodox woman to be ordained.
In January 2010, Weiss caused the biggest uproar of his career by changing Hurwitz’s title from maharat—an acronym for the Hebrew phrase denoting a teacher of Jewish law and spirituality—to the far more straightforward rabba, the feminized version of rabbi. The move drew an immediate outcry, including a statement from the Agudath Israel, a leading central authority of American Ultra-Orthodoxy, declaring that Weiss could no longer be considered part of the Orthodox fold: “These developments represent a radical and dangerous departure from Jewish tradition and the mesoras haTorah and must be condemned in the strongest terms.”
The episode, which Weiss now refers to as “the rabba incident,” exhausted him. Now, at 68, he is preparing for what might once have seemed like another radical move: handing over the reins of his school to Asher Lopatin, a man 20 years his junior, who is universally known not as an incendiary but as a relentless bridge-builder. He comes from Chicago, where he was best known as Rahm Emanuel’s rabbi, and holds dual ordination from Yeshiva University and from the Yeshivas Brisk, the Chicago-based seminary established by Aaron Soloveichik, the brother of Joseph Soloveitchik, Yeshiva University’s intellectual leader. He is also a Rhodes scholar who speaks Arabic, an experienced fundraiser, and a leading proponent of a pluralistic, egalitarian, Weissish view of Orthodoxy he refers to as “Morethodoxy.” “This transition is about two words,” Weiss told me when we met recently. “Institution building.”

"The Gay 'Marriage' Crisis" by Daniel Perez, Jewish Voice Editor

6/29/11 Arutz Sheva- Marriage is a religious institution, and the US government, where religion and state are separate by law, ought to have no place in regulating it.

Let me tell you the problem I have with Gay Pride parades.  It's not the "gay" part; it's the "pride" part. I can understand taking pride in one's culture, one's religion, or one's career field. I'm not even saying that one's sexual orientation should be cause for shame - simply that it doesn't warrant pride of any sort.
As a straight male, I take no pride in being attracted to the opposite sex. I'm also left-handed. Where's the Leftie Pride Parade? My point is that one's sexual orientation just is, and if you hold the politically-correct position that one's orientation is an innate human characteristic with which one is born (like left or right-handedness), there is no volitional element at all.
So what are we celebrating, then? Gay history? Gay culture? Am I the only one who thinks that "celebrations" of sexuality should be, at the very least, kept behind closed doors? If New York held a "Straight Pride Parade," wherein the behavior of participants was every bit as licentious as that of the Gay Pride March, it would be every bit as offensive. Aren't there folks in the LGBT community who are disturbed by this?
To paraphrase a stand-up comedian I once heard (and incidentally, this was at a club in the Village), "No, it's not a choice to be gay. But it is a choice to be flaming." By the time you're dancing, body painted, half-naked, down the streets of Manhattan, a few choices have definitely been made. Choices made, we would argue, in very poor taste.
Personally, it strikes me as degrading for a group to base their whole identity on which type of anatomy they're attracted to. If people wish to debase themselves thus, that's their right - but please, don't make me witness it.
Of course, the real issue du jour is the same-sex marriage legislation that, just a few days ago, cleared both houses of the New York State Legislature. Those directly affected by the new law are literally dancing (fabulously, no doubt) in the streets. But what does it all mean for the rest of us?
Look, if certain religious groups wish to condone and perform same-sex marriages, that's their business. We as Jews or as conservatives may not agree with it, but this is America, where a person is free to express himself so long as his or her choice of expression does not infringe upon the rights of others.
But, if religious groups that only recognize the traditional (read: authentic) definition of marriage (i.e. that it exists between man and woman) are in any way compelled to perform or recognize homosexual marriage, that is a clear violation of the Constitution. The government has no right to make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Where do I get that from? How about the part where it says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (for those of you Americans who slept through your high school Civics class, that's the First Amendment to the US Constitution).

Ergo, traditional Jews, Christians, and Muslims have every right to abstain from performing such ceremonies and absolutely should not be punished for doing so, be it through a denial of federal funding for which they would otherwise have been eligible, or be it through lawsuits by individuals attempting to force their views upon a religious community. 
We can't help but suspect that in the very near future there will be a gay couple attempting to force the issue with their local church/mosque/synagogue/temple, and it wouldn't surprise us if such a case made it all the way to the Supreme Court.
Because for some, it isn't enough to have a recognized "civil union" with the same material benefits as marriage. Some feel, that as a matter of human rights their relationship merits the label of "marriage." Why wouldn't the same line of thinking convince someone that this "marriage" then needs to be sanctioned by their religion of choice, whether or not said religion expressly forbids it? Then you have government dictating to religion what its teachings are - and that's when you have a problem.
Note that none of this is a comment on homosexuality itself. Marriage is a religious institution, and the government ought to have no place in regulating it.
Our solution to the "gay marriage problem"? I propose a new constitutional amendment (really just a specific application of the first) that henceforth the government shall have no role in regulating any kind of marriage, gay, straight, or other. From here on out, couples would register their "civil union" with the local government, and to get married, you'd go to your local rabbi, priest, minister, imam, or what have you.
Then people of all sexual orientations could get their civil unions and be on equal footing with everyone else vis-à-vis the government. And if they want to get married, they simply have to belong to a faith that espouses their interpretation of marriage. Most importantly of all, it would be fair.
Why has nobody thought to do this? Under this new law, no one's civil rights (real or imagined) would be trampled, gay and straight people would be treated equally under the law, and the government would no longer be meddling in matters of religion, which according to the First Amendment are none of their business to begin with! Problem solved!

You're welcome, America.

"Judaism: After the Death of Gay Marriage" by Dr. Aryeh Hirsch

4/18/13 Arutz Sheva- In June, 1989, the American Medical Association (AMA) held its annual meeting in Chicago. The Hirsch family was two months shy of making Aliyah, and on the last Sunday of June, we were driving north to Camp Moshava, Wild Rose, Wisconsin.

After ten years as camp doctor (for one glorious week a year, always the first week, so that the campers weren’t too homesick yet, thereby cutting down on my workload and giving us a family vacation), this was anticipated to be my last stint in Wisconsin after ten summers. As we drove northward, WBBM radio played the following news bulletin:
“The AMA building has been taken over by gay-rights protestors, disrupting the annual meeting. We are live at the site, with an interview with one of the protest leaders. Mr. X, why are you gay-rights activists taking over this building?’"

‘We are demanding rights equal to those of other minority groups. In the light of the AIDS epidemic, we are using this medical venue to demand acceptance of the legitimate civil rights of gays. The fact is that there is simply too much traditional morality in America, and we want to use the AMA and other organizations to teach America otherwise.’ “

We got quite a laugh over that last line about “too much morality”, but as I’ll show, things have certainly progressed in the last 25 years. With dozens of American states now considering gay marriage bills, and the Supreme Court about to deal with the issue, this week’s Parsha, Acharei Mot (After the Death) has a message:

“You are prohibited from doing the sex act with a male, in the manner of sex with a female; it is a to’eiva “ (Leviticus 18:22). King James translates to’eiva as “abomination”, but this may not be accurate. Bar Kappara (Talmud Nedarim, 51a) views the word as a “noterikon”, a contraction of the three words “toeh atah bah”, you are making a mistake”. Torah Temimah explains the syllable “bah” of the three-part contraction as “in this way (derech) “, meaning that you are straying from the fundamental ways of Creation by doing this.
Tosafot in Nedarim translates “bah” differently, as the word can also mean "towards her" saying it refers to one’s wife (or divinely intended wife); that is, one who is involved in homosexual activity is straying from “her”, his wife ( the Torah does not explicitly include lesbian activity in the same biblical commandment, although Rambam notes that it is Rabbinically prohibited ; Issurei Biah, 21:8).

The translation of “error” leads to an entirely different view of homosexuality.
I first heard this view from Rabbi Barry Freundel, who spoke at several summer conventions of the Association of Orthodox Jewish scientists in the 1980’s. I recently serendipitously found his article on the subject when someone discarded it in our synagogue during his pre-Pesach cleaning. The article appears in the Spring, 1986 volume of the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society (pages 70-87):

There is no such thing as a Jewish homosexual. Nowhere in halakha is a persondefined by his sexual orientation. Jewish society consists of halakhically defined priest, levite, king, prophet, Sanhedrin, minor, man(ish), woman, deaf-mute,etc. There are biologically and halakhic definitions of hermaphrodite, menstruant, menopausal female, etc. However, the homosexual does not appear on the list of those with a separate status in the Jewish community.

This is because homosexuality is, as noted above, viewed as an activity, an error -  but not as a definition of a person’s being. “Homosexual” is therefore not a noun, identifying and categorizing the individual, but an adjective describing his sin/error.

Viewed thus, a person who indulges in homosexual activity is to be viewed as no different than one who sins by eating nonkosher food (Deuteronomy 14:3), idolatry(ibid,7:25-26) and committing unethical business practices(ibid, 25:16). All these sins are also described as “to’eiva”. Yet we do not ascribe some special status to those committing these errors.
Furthermore, although the unethical businessman may have deep psychological drives to steal, halakha makes no dispensation for these drives. The thief, murderer, adulterer,etc. is expected to control his urges, and to desist from sin; classically, our rabbis have said that a Jew should say that that he’d love to have a tasty ham sandwich, but that the Torah forbids it.

Even if a genetic or supra-genetic basis for homosexualism were to be found (despite much effort by gay scientists to prove such biological determinism, none has been discovered), the Torah would view it in the same light as the Talmud’s description of King David’s personality: he was a redhead like Esau, with the same murderous tendencies. Yet David controlled his DNA, rising above his biology, “killing only per the sanction of the Sanhedrin”.

Our basic covenant as Jews, the brit of circumcision, enjoins us with the defining command that a Jew rises above the compunctions (viewed as impurity,”tumah”) of the physical, including biology, with its DNA, sex hormones, forces of evolution, etc., and uses conscience, morals, wisdom, belief, and all other human faculties to rise above the level of barbarians (a fact that Hitler, may he rot in Hell, used as his excuse for war against the Jews).

Furthermore, should a Jew commit any sin, he is enjoined to repent, to change his ways - and the sin of homosexual activity is no different. No one can change his DNA, hormones, kleptomania, etc., but a Jew can change his actions.

With this differing view of homosexual activity, Jewish society changes the errant Jew’s perception of himself. He is no longer a reviled outsider, pushed outside of Jewish society and synagogue. Rather, he should be welcomed with the welcome afforded those who eat nonkosher, drive on Shabbos, etc. Lubavich especially has long championed the view that we are all Jews, and as such artificial divisions between us (Reform, Orthodox, gay,etc.) are invalid, and such labels must not be used.

This essentially pulls the rug out of those who advocate gay rights, synagogues, marriage, etc. Gays should be welcomed in our synagogues, as there is no place for granting them separate institutions (any more then setting up a shul called “Rodfei Gezel “, those who pursue theft).

Rabbi Freundel: “ We should couple our tolerance of the individual with disapproval of the activity”.

As a physician, I add that as a young physician in 1981, I saw the issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, which contained three articles on a mysterious illness killing gays in the bathhouses of San Francisco. Later, the overlap of the gay population with the IV drug addicts, whose income was boosted by selling their blood for transfusions, led to AIDS in the general public, as did heterosexual activity by gays. I personally cared for a thirty year old teacher who was killed by the blood transfusion she had received two years earlier during heart valve surgery; and I cared for a 70-year-old who died of an AIDS-tainted transfusion for his bleeding ulcer.

These were innocent victims of an epidemic for whom gays bear guilt. Yet, like other postmoderns, who redefine dangerous behavior that threatens society as benign (as in liberals who redefined the PLO as legitimate freedom fighters and politicians, ignoring Israel’s 1,500 dead and September 11th’s 2,700 dead ), the gays never expressed remorse. AIDS may be treatable, but at tremendous cost, and gays historically played a causal role in the epidemic.

One final point: we find ourselves on a 25 year slippery slope, and “gay marriage” is not the end of it. Recently, well-known gerontologist Aubrey de Grey wrote an article called “The Overdue Demise of Monogamy” (in John Brockman’s anthology "That Expains Everything", pages 15-18). De Grey says that now that gay marriage is a “battle won”, society should now take the next logical step and rid itself of the “inconvenience of monogamy…with all its pain and suffering. For is not sex simply another form of recreational activity?”.

He sees that only problems arise from the “inconvenient responsibilities of deeper emotional attachments”, and sees the benefits of casual sex in a society characterized by “shifts of affection and evolving social interactions”.

De Grey glosses over, as unimportant, the great sexual issues of long-term investment, integrity, love, care, relationship, and what Judaism calls “specialness” (kedusha, also translated as holiness; gentiles too speak of the bond of holy matrimony). Try raising a kid in an emotional quicksand that always “shifts and evolves”. See with what kind of character that child, and his reptilian parents, eventually end up.

That is the future envisioned for us “After the Death (Acharei Mot)” of gay - and all other - marriage.

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