Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Rabbis

Rather than go down the path of expressing my anger, frustration, sadness and struggle I thought I'd take the opportunity to discuss some of the better things that I've found being a gay Orthodox Jew- and hope to try and incorporate more happiness in my future posts.

The first Rabbi I came out to, in high school, simply expressed his wish to make things easier for me. No offered solutions, no discussing how to fix me, just admission, from my Rabbi, that he did not know what to do. The man I had looked up to for so many years, didn't have the solution- and at that point I realized there really was no solution and it would just have to be a path for me to forge, and create the life that would help me find happiness. It was a huge relief to have someone I respected so much struggling with me, trying to figure things out with me, and trying to help me forge a path- because he wanted me to find truth, just as much as I wanted to find it.

In Yeshiva in Israel, for a year and a half, one Rebbe worked with me on ignoring my sexuality, and not letting it be the only thing that occupied my mind, and replacing it with lots of Torah in order to avoid other issues. While not the best tactic, I was distracted from my "troubles" for a nice amount of time and really got a lot of learning done for the 15 months I was studying.

When I got to Yeshiva University, I came out to my Rabbi after I had come out to my friends and family, and figured I could build another relationship and role model. And I did. This man- a very religious, learned and respected Rabbi, albeit younger than most on campus- was the most supportive a Rabbi could be- especially given that I didn't come to him for support, just to have another close Rabbi in my life. His first response was "Wow, I can't believe someone in your shoes is still in my Shiur, learning daily and walking around as a religious Jew". He was awed and inspired by ME! He continued to hear my story and became a tremendous ally over my next few years on campus. He supported my dating men, supported my right to exist in the Orthodox community as a gay man.

None of this should be a shock, but I know for so many it is. Many people assume every Rabbi is bad, and everyone will reject them if they are Orthodox and gay- and I wanted to show that in my experience, that wasn't the case, and I'm so happy to have all their support to this day, and don't be scared of Rabbi's- especially in 2010, some of them can surprise you.

12 comments:

  1. Reb Yid, I'm confused. A rebbi at YU supporting your dating men? Why wouldn't it be a shock?

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  2. It shouldn't be a shock because it shouldn't be assumed that automatically every Rabbi will reject every gay Jew.

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  3. If the rabbi knew you would "out" him publicly, would he be as liberal, as behind closed doors?

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  4. "Many people assume every Rabbi is bad.":

    I am not a big fan of Rabbis (and priests for that matter) because I consider their teachings to be destructive and entirely wrong. But as far as the kind of people they are mostly good, because people in general, most of them, are good. For that matter most Rabbis and most priests are good people from this simple observation at all. As far as the bad Rabbis (priests) go that is a minority of Rabbis (priests). You never hear about good Rabbis on TV, just the bad ones. Thus, the impression is created that Rabbis are the incarnation of Satan himself. It is in human nature to overlook the good and just look at the bad.

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  5. 2011, you mean :P

    Thank you for this post--it is so encouraging. A bit of much-needed hope. :)

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  6. Thank you for your uplifting words. I would also like to share some positive Rabbinic experiences. After studying in Yeshiva in Israel a few years later I came out to the Rosh Hayeshiva of that yeshiva ( I didnt quite have the courage to do so while I was there), while it took him a while to get his head around it, he tells me that he still has great respect for me as a Ben Torah and one who is shomer mitzvos. Over the years we have maintained our relationship and has told me of circumstances where he has viewed situations in a different light due to his learning with me. That the world is not a stark black and white but many gradations of nuanced grey that complicates peoples lives. That he feels enriched for that experience whereby he is no longer so quick to judge what he might have initially seen as wrong or keneged halacha. I believe that the most important tool that we have is our steadfastness in learning Torah and doing mitzvos and having that light shine from us in all that we do, so that being gay is just one of many complicated aspects of who we are rather than a vehicle to separate us from our community.

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  7. when he said he supported u dating men, did that include an endorsement of some physical relationship or was he completely out of his mind and thinking that a relationship between 2 gays men (by relationship i mean a committed and loving relationship as boyfriends) could exist without physical "closeness"?

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  8. Anonymous beat me to it, I too want to know, will this Rabbi allow you to have sex with another guy like you would with a woman just like the Torah prohibits.

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  9. When this topic came up in a morning class, one of the rabbis said if someone he knew were gay, he would tell them to just enjoy their lifestyle. He compared it to a holocaust victim that’s no longer observant. What can you say?

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  10. http://vimeo.com/17101589

    (This isn't a spam thing. It's just the URL to an AWESOME vid in response to the "It Gets Better" project, which is related to the video you have on your blog.)

    Love, Moi

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  11. Your Neighbor (Again)January 22, 2011 at 11:51 PM

    Oh yeah, it relates to gender roles which is the subject of the blog post below this. And it occurs to me that you've probably seen this. Oh, well.

    -Moi, otra vez.

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  12. There has been some good stuff said here for and against.
    But lets face it there are two prohibitions here.
    One sex with a man like you would have with a woman which as Ely pointed out is anal sex and yes as Ely said lets not presume that all homosexuals are having anal sex, there are other entertaining sexual behaviors.
    But then that will invoke two to happen 99% of the time and that’s wasting seed.
    I mean if you going to have oral sex its bound to happen.
    And yes heterosexuals do it as well, waste seed that is.
    Even those who take the pill are in reality causing seed to be wasted even if the mans penis is entering the vagina there will be very little risk that the seed will produce.
    So what are we saying, a homosexual should have no fun just kiss and don’t do any thing else.
    Bottom line, no pun intended, but a good one, I say leave it to G-d and when the time come get punished by him and let the rabbi’s let us live the life we want to live.

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It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews