“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
I write this with a heavy heart. I very much understand some
of you that are uncomfortable with me speaking out about such a sensitive
topic. Growing up in the community, I understand that we like to be as private
about internal issues as possible in order to not bring extra attention to
ourselves. In addition, I know that we have some very special attributes, which
are less common in other communities. I know that we try our best to take care
of one another.
It may be a little hard to understand why someone like myself,
who left the community 15 years ago after I came out is speaking up and
wants to reconnect to his roots. If you would allow me to perhaps paint the
picture of why.
It is no secret that we have gay people in the community. Many of us
decide to leave the community and leave Judaism, because we feel like we have
no other way out. For many of us, we go through a mourning process of losing
our community, family and friends. No one should think this an easy call.
many of us, it is about our mental health. I know I went through a time of
being suicidal and engaging in behaviors that were extremely self-deprecating
and painful. I know it's not easy for you to understand, especially when you
haven't been through it. But, it is sort of something you have to try to put
yourself in our shoes and look at the reality of our struggle. No one
should have to go through what I have experienced. I wouldn't wish it on my
Not speaking up might be perceived as the best course of action. By
speaking up, this affects my family and risks possible consequences to all of
us. My purpose is to help and not harm. This is about trying to open up
your eyes to the suffering and pain we experience. The anxiety and fear we feel
can be debilitating. To many of us, we feel we have no choice but to come
My intention is not to create a movement, rather to help
those individuals who are tortured by this issue. Over the last few years, I
have been able to help many of us trying to reconcile our feelings of being gay
and wanting to stay within the community.
A quick story is about a community member that called me
with such fear and anxiety that I was afraid for his life. He was drinking
heavily every night, popping pills and sobbing telling me how much he wanted to
die. Today, thank G-d he is still with us.
Going forward, my focus will be on individual stories and
not of other topics that people might feel threaten the fabric of the
As Yom Kippur (The day of Atonement) approaches, I would like to send my apologies to anyone
that may have perceived my intention as one of malice toward the community. My
continuous hope is for inner peace for all those among us.
As Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) approaches, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my blog. When I look at this past year, I can't help but review my writings. Sometimes, I feel the temptation to change some of the wording, expression and feeling. I have to remember that life is a journey and not a destination. Although some of my feelings, thought processes and ideas have changed over time, it would be an injustice to myself and my readers to have my blog match strictly my current state of mind. All my articles are dated and hopefully provide my readers with a map showing my experience, strength and hope. As human beings, God blessed us with feelings. Sometimes, it's anger, hurt, pain, happiness, fulfillment, love, In Alcoholics Anonymous, they tell us when sharing to focus on "what is was like...what happened... and what it is like now." I find this very apropos to my blog. Another line someone shared was "Paint your story, Em. The colors, textures, etc. It will come naturally, because it is true... If the tears come, so be it. You will have earned every one." My hope is perhaps you relate to a feeling, a moment, a thought or journey in my writings and helps you to know you are not alone. Just maybe, you'll be inspired to trust others with your feelings and open up your heart. Perhaps, it might provide you with an opportunity to understand another person's struggle. Hopefully, it will make both of us better people. May you be blessed this coming year with serenity, meaning and happiness! Le'Shana Tov and Gmar Chatima Tova! Respectfully Yours, Rich Dweck
8/27/13-As the summer ends and the school year begins, I’m quietly watching
the GW campus come to life without me. June marked a momentous time in
my life with the birth of my first child; although I miss not being part
of the firsts of the school year, I’m home treasuring the closing weeks
of maternity leave with my new daughter.
While this may mean my coffee dates with students are on hold, I
still need my morning cup of joe – shared everyday with my beautiful 10
week old coffee date. This daily ritual on the couch has obvious marked
differences from my coffee routines on campus but they share a key
thing in common – they are filled with questions. With students, I’m
filled with inquiries, wanting to know who they are, where they come
from, are they happy, what they seek from their Jewish lives. With my
daughter on my lap, the questions aren’t all that different: Who will
she grow to be? What does she want from her life? How can I support
her in her growth? Of course, the key difference is that other than an
occasional coo, my daughter doesn’t answer back. On the cusp of a new Jewish year, which coincides with the
back-to-school season, I think there’s a great deal to be said about
questions without answers. The start of any new school year is filled
with unknowns, whether one is beginning a life in Washington or starting
to end a chapter that began years ago. For me, the real challenge
isn’t in the asking, but being comfortable with the silence that
sometimes meets us in response. I’ve always craved black and white
answers, knowing that often we learn the most in the grey areas of our
What questions are you asking yourself for this new year?
And where do your discomforts in lacking answers potentially hold space
for growth? May your Rosh Hashanah be a meaningful one (we hope you’ll share it with us!) and may the year to come be filled with joy & growth.