Saturday, June 11, 2011

Every Step I Take

Why do I do it?
I've often questioned the reasons why I stay Orthodox. And for a while, I had little to no answer. The community tries to reject me, leaders put me down, and people consistently disappoint me in the Orthodox world. So why do I put myself through this? Reasons in the past have included family, friends, just because it was all I had ever known- I didn't want it to change.

However, last week I celebrated Shavuot, commemorating the day God gave the Torah to the Jewish people. I heard a unique perspective that help me put something into words that I was never able to articulate before. I realized that while various aspects of what laws to keep and what defines "Orthodoxy" are confusing to the nth degree, being Orthodox, and identifying myself as such helps me feel part of a bigger picture. Each day I am able to belong to a strong movement of people, to a larger nation that believes in something, that has a passion and commitment that has lasted close to 6,000 years. Being Orthodox makes every step I take purposeful. Almost everything I do has the ultimate goal of betterment of myself, of humanity, and of the Jewish nation. I have the goal of being close to God at the forefront of my mind, and it's something I wouldn't trade for anything else.

I believe in God, I believe in Judaism, I have pride in that and couldn't imagine my life not being Orthodox. It doesn't seem like an option. For the first year or so of being out, I would say I struggled greatly with whether or not I was going to be religious and how I could go to a gay bar with a yarmulka. But then I envisioned a life without a yarmulka and that was an even scarier thought. It was a process and it took time.

But I wouldn't have it any other way.


  1. Okay, but what if that bigger picture looks down on who I am, my choices, who I want to be with? What if those steps I take are purposeful, but I know that most of mainstream Orthodoxy thinks that they're the opposite of purposeful? What if my idea of bettering myself doesn't seem to jive with the Torah's view of bettering oneself?

    I feel like this strong movement of people, this larger nation, probably doesn't want someone like me to be part of their movement. I do believe in God, but believing in Judaism is something else, because it also requires you to believe in the people of God. The majority of which don't want me the way I am.

  2. I really admire how you remain so strong in your convictions, even with so much being thrown against you. Your choice to remain Orthodox proves how real it is.
    But, like with any "stigma" or "group" that doesn't fit the normal standards, they are often looked down upon/rejected. But it's a matter of acceptance that people need to learn and understand and be able to see a person for who he is, who can become.... not for the label that we attach to them, especially when it is wrongly given.
    Be strong, and be proud. Thank you for renewing my beliefs.

  3. wow thank u Ely needed to read that post!!!

  4. I don't get how you could believe in it, or how you justify being a part of an explicitly homophobic religion, but I do get that you get something on an emotional level out of being a part of it. I just wonder if you could get that thing somewhere else without all the horrible homophobic garbage.

    I don't know if you read Andrew Sullivan, who is a great blogger who is both gay and Catholic, but you might be interested in his take on that position.

  5. "I don't get how you could believe in it, or how you justify being a part of an explicitly homophobic religion"

    And that will never change unless individuals like Ely stay on the inside and fight against it. If something is valuable to you but flaws you can either try and fix it or throw it away. Walking a way might be easy but my bet is future generations of gay Jews will thank Ely and many others for not quiting and fighting to change the hearts and minds of our community for the better.


  6. I can hear the beauty of your commitment to Judaism in your post. Some groups are more difficult to shift than others but there can be joy there too.




It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews