Monday, February 29, 2016

"Coming Out as a Gay Orthodox Talmud Teacher"- by Pesia Soloveichik

Click here for the full article in the Forward: "Coming Out as a Gay Orthodox Talmud Teacher"- by Pesia Soloveichik 2/28/16 The Forward
The following are excerpts from the article:  
“What is it like to be a Soloveichik?” This question about my well-known rabbinic family name has accompanied me for much of my life. My grandfather was Ahron Soloveichik and my great-uncle was Joseph B. Soloveitchik. The questions about my identity became even more complex when, three years ago, I came out as gay in the Orthodox community — while I was a Talmud teacher at an Orthodox high school."

Thursday, February 18, 2016

"The Gay Child in My Daughter’s First Grade Class" by Maharat Rachel Kohl Finegold posted on - 2/18/16

My thoughts: What a breath of fresh air... So often too many in the Orthodox Jewish world don't express their authentic opinions for fear of being unpopular, creating waves, or being labeled as the "other".  
Moreover, some shy away in the hopes that someone else will not (bystander effect). Some stay silent, because they feel they have no skin in the game. And some stay silent because it's simply not important to them.  
Too often we lack the courage to speak up about difficult topics. Ignoring reality keeps us stuck in this "Don't Ask Don't Tell" construct. This has been proven to be hazardous to ones health. I may not be 6 years old, but I understand what denying a persons reality can do to a person. I understand what might seem as harmless words of a teacher at 6 years old can have an effect on that persons self esteem for years to come.  
We may not remember everything about our childhoods, but we do remember the statements that become more relevant to our lives as time goes on.  
One of my earliest and most salient memories I can recall is when my 1st grade teacher told us a story about the firing gates of hell. He spoke of the torture we will endure in the next world if we are not "good". That story never left me.  
I hope more of us can and will find the courage to be as brave as the author Maharat Rachel Kohl Finegold.  
-Rich Dweck 

Article begins: It was a parenting moment that came much sooner than I thought it would. My six year-old looked over at me at the dinner table and told me that her teacher had said that a boy “can’t marry a boy, and a girl can’t marry a girl.”
I paused, chewing.
“Well, what do you think?,” I asked her.
“Well, I know that isn’t true.”

She knows that isn’t true because we have had gay couples at our Shabbat table. She knows it isn’t true because she has a friend with two moms, and because her little sister has a boy in her class with two dads. She knows that sometimes boys marry boys. She knows that gay people exist. This is 2016.

Friday, February 12, 2016

"How Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s Daughter, Adina Bar Shalom, Became Israel’s Leading Ultra-Orthodox Iconoclast" (Tablet Magazine 2/11/16- by Elhanan Miller)

Shas spirtual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (L)
and his daughter Adina Bar Shalom April 06, 2011.
  Photo by Oren Nahshon/FLASH90

This article is absolutely astonishing. What an amazing and brave woman. She discusses her relationship with her father, her aspirations, Women's issues, LGBT issues, Rabbinic responsibility, and education in Israel. I've heard courage is contagious, but has to start with one. She is truly a role model and I hope and pray that her words are heard throughout the entire Jewish world and beyond. 

The Israel Prize-winning educator, activist, and former seamstress seeks to integrate secular and religious lives for a new generation of Haredi men and women. By Elhanan Miller

Quotes from the article: "“The culture shock I experienced was meeting the unusual segments of Israeli society,” she said. “I had never before met the LGBT community up close. You usually associate with people from your own circles, and here I was meeting a diverse, special population. It raised lots of questions and internal debates. These are things you can’t share with your surroundings.”
"Bar Shalom is circumspect in sharing the details of her epiphany but indicates that a first-hand encounter with a homosexual colleague had a profound effect on her. 'For a woman coming from such a different world, to meet a man like that was a big ‘wow.’ I met a person whom I even loved to some degree. A nice, kind person whom I could befriend. Should his [sexual] orientation drive me away because it’s so different? That was a question I asked myself.' ”
"She continued: “They are fearful and, unfortunately, not learned enough. I believe that anyone who is deeply learned can find solutions to every problem. I don’t want to denigrate anyone, but we don’t have enough brave giants. Unlike that high-school student I was speaking to earlier, a great scholar cannot try to please his friends. He must take responsibility as a leader and solve the problems of his people. If he wants to safeguard the Torah, that’s the only way. The moment he tries to please the mediocre scholars, mediocrity wins, and that’s our downfall.”

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