Monday, July 26, 2010


For those of you that haven't seen it, (what are you- living under a rock?):

I had a lot of emotions racing through me when this was released- I read through each paragraph with a fine-toothed comb, and to see names of many Rebbeim who I admire and respect on the signature list, and started to tear up a bit. Then I shared with the world. I am happy. I am proud. I feel like I finally belong in places where, honestly, I was scared to enter because of how the sommunity would judge me. But now I know that the Orthodox community- or at least their leaders are no long judging, and are willing to accept the struggles of a homosexual in the Orthodox world, and understand the difficult things we go through.

Portions that struck me in a good way- gay Jews have the right to belong to a congregation and make it their community, gay Jews have the right to refrain from seeking out reparative therapy if they feel it would be more harmful than helpful, children of gay couples should be accepted fully, and that gay Jews should not be encouraged to marry members of the opposite gender. All these values that are unfortunately not approached properly in other communities, and that many Rabbi's do not believe belong in the Orthodox world for whatever reason. But everyone on that list does believe it.

When asked what the next step after the YU Panel should be- this is it. This is the step that was/is needed for the gay Orthodox Jewish population. Awareness, sensitivity and acceptance into the communities we have always called home. All I wish for now is more and more Orthodox leaders to sign on in order to continue the strength displayed by the Orthodox community in releasing this statement.

And for those who asked, I wouldn't change anything about this letter. Not. One. Thing.


  1. hey, it's Alex Schindler, don't ask why i comment as Helen Thomas, I haven't figured out how to keep my real name but post by another on Blogger, and i keep my Blogger identity semi-anonymous (at ).

    Just commenting to recommend that you include a link to the statement for your readers.

    I'm pretty ecstatic about its content as well. I honestly have far too little faith in the Orthodox community to have expected something so necessary to actually get done, and so flawlessly.

  2. Which section of shulchan aruch does this go in. yorah da'ah perhaps?

  3. Here's something of a different take on this statement of principles:

  4. Hey, I mentioned this post on my blog, and I thought you'd want to know

  5. As per a previous post of mine, I think this "change" is entirely appropriate. The only "changes" that this statement introduced is that all Jews should feel accepted, and should not be discriminated based on the challenges and desires they have. That I think is and always has been the Torah's intent. It did not try and change halachah, or the halachic status of any individual (for example, one who has sinned), or even the attitude one should have towards the act (and even the desire) itself. Regardless of how disgusting an act or a desire is, that does not take away from the "tzelem Elokim" and "beni bechori Yisroel" that we all are.

  6. VERY good news, although there's one thing that bugged me. Why are all gay couples automatically considered "open violators of halachah" (point 8, 2nd paragraph)? This is against dan lekaf zechut.

  7. I would compare an openly gay couple to a person who is openly going out with non-Jews. The fact that a person is publicizing not only his challenges but the fact that he is acting on it (whether it's halachically forbidden I don't know, but it's definitely not appropriate in the spirit of the law) is probably why most people assume that they don't just stop there. I don't know the exact halachic parameters of dan lechaf zechus, but its possible that this wouldn't be a violation of it.

  8. I very much agreed with most of the statement, but I personally would change one thing. While there is benefit for a person to "come-out", I think that in most cases, an Orthodox Jew with homosexual orientation should keep it private. While according to secular culture, homosexuality is an "alternate" lifestyle, according to Judaism it is not. It's a challenge like any other sin. The fact that there are emotional attachments to it definitely makes it more difficult, but a person should not come out to the public about his challenges. If a person had a challenge about keeping Shabbos, kosher, has inappropriate feelings to someone that he shouldn't (whether it's a relative, another person wife, a non-Jew, etc..), desire to serve other gods, atheism, etc... that's between him, those people who he's close with (family, friends, Rebbeim, etc..) and G-d. As far as I know, homosexuality is the only ta'avah that there is such a concept of "coming out" and I think that's a direct result of secular culture viewing it as perfectly acceptable. Like I said, we should accept individuals with homosexual orientation into our community with open arms. There is no crime for having a yeitzer hara. But the acceptance of "coming out" is the first step towards acceptance period.

  9. To Anonymous @July 27, 8:39
    So we should follow the letter of the law regarding dan l'chaf zechus, and the spirit of the law regarding the prohibition?

  10. I am very happy to see such an admirable change sentiment and softening of heart within the orthodox establishment. It seems that much has changed within a very short period of time, and that much positive change will ultimately occur. However, this document leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth. I don't want to detract attention from the core purpose of this document, or take away from this moment, but I must comment, nonetheless. Statement 8 has made a particular impact:

    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.

    This statement ensures gay individuals the rights to participate as full members within many orthodox shuls. It also makes sure that we all know that there must still be distinctions between men and women in terms of participation in Jewish ritual. Pardon the sarcasm, but I am so glad that we can be so liberal with regard to various modern challenges, yet always stagnant when it comes to the position of women.

    The disparity makes a strong statement to me, and is quite in character of the rabinical establishment. Indeed, the rabbinical establishment has truly stuck its neck out to protect individuals affected by the extremely controversial issue of homosexuality. I applaud that. This was an entirely taboo topic not 10 years ago.

    Yet, somehow, despite all of the damage, and all of the hardship caused to women in the Jewish community by many areas of the current halakic system for generations, most rabinical authorities have little commitment and a dogged antagonism toward fixing issues (such as jewish marriage, agunot, etc) that ensure a lesser status and egregious violation to women in a jewish community. For example, at several points within jewish history as well as within current events, there have been propositions to alter Jewish marriage/divorce and to moderately alter certain rituals (in a halakicly acceptable manner) in such a way that allows women freedom from enslavement within a marriage and a more equitable position within judaism. Despite the obvious need for changes and safeties within the system, these proposals have consistently been knocked down as "too controversial." The selective ignoring of controversial issues that apply to women specifically is telling.

    For those who are concerned about a snowball effect in which this progressive attitude changes the position of the jewish woman, stop sweating. I, myself, am becoming convinced that this will never happen.

  11. I'm glad too. I'm a straight sixteen year old girl, but it always worried me that I should be part of a community which doesn't respect gay jews. How could one practice a religion preaching tolerance, if it doesn't practice it?


It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews