Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Here's the problem. The problem is many religious communities insist on being "amidst" others, to be "a light unto the nations" (a very Jewish concept) and exemplify Jewish way of life as the most befitting in God's eyes. Somewhere along the way, however, this was lost. Somewhere along the way, people decided not just to be a light for others, but to protest, to denounce and to look down upon others for simply being different.

Nowhere in the Torah does it say to look down on others. Does it say to watch over and protect other members of their own nation? Yes. Do many Jews feel the obligation to scold and scorn members of their own communities for wrongdoings? Yes. But the problem is that too many individuals and communities took it upon themselves to be the judge of others and to decide what is best for the rest of the world as well. We have Jews who protest their own Jewish companies because the companies support building a homeland in Israel. We have Jews who say that an innocent sweet boy was murdered because communities didn't protest gay marriage or because Jews let a convicted child molester from their own community go to jail, they are being punished by losing an innocent child. But forget about issues pertaining to their own communities, we have Jews who run out and protest civil gay marriage, when that's not their right, nor does it impact the way they practice their religion.

To me, this does not exemplify any aspect of Judaism or human decency. What ever happened to live and let live? I understand wanting one's own little bubble to be perfect, but individuals who violate one or two standards of "norm", established hundreds or thousands of years ago, should not be criticized as too often happens. In addition, when other people make decisions for their own lives, more religious communities simply have no right to protest or scorn or scold. It is simply a matter of human decency to let someone go about their life as they choose, and not protest it, especially when it doesn't directly impact them.

I know this post comes off as harsh, or as attacking, but it is simply meant to establish the way I feel about respect and equal rights for every person in this country and in this world - without judgment by "others".


  1. Jews are American citizens, are members of the American polity, and how dare you call into question their right to participate in the American political discourse.

    The only way out of this for you is going to be to deny that their political position, against state benefits for gay marriage, is legitimate. But that's an incredible stand for someone who claims to be tolerant and believe in democracy to take.

  2. What Ely means to say is that it is silly to let your religious views color black into the lives of other people. If extending a right to someone will not adversely affect you in the slightest, why not let them have it? Fighting against marriage equality does not benefit anyone! In fact, it divides people even more. By not allowing rights to minorities, we are essentially saying that they have sub-human rights. This poem is a harsh reminder of the consequences of such actions.

    "First they came for the communists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me."

  3. Good luck to you, Ely. It is challenging for every "Modern Orthodox" Jew to balance "secular life" and "religious life". I think on some levels that this balancing act is difficult for every Jewish person. How much more so for the "frum" person. I appreciate you struggle in finding your "derech". Don't depart from the Torah because you too matter, and there's no doubt that they needs to be more "ahavas Yisroel" in these modern times where everyone struggles to find meaning when life events around us can sometimes so absurd.


  4. Where does this article question the right of American Jews to participate in American political discourses? One could argue that any criticism against a political position held by a group of people questions their right to participate in politics. However, the aim of this article was not to question the political rights of American Jewry (a group that incidentally includes the author of this article), but to express frustration against Jewish communities that attempt to push their values on others.

  5. Ari learn your history Niemoller was an anti semite

    "Theological Myth, German Antisemitism, and the Holocaust: The Case of Martin Niemoeller"-Robert Michael

    and to equate the denial of gays to marry in any way related to the denial of rights that the nazis brought with them and the holocaust cheapens the memory of the 6 million and the millions of gays, roma and others killed by the nazis

  6. While I agree Jewish organizations have no right to interfere with the gay marriage fight, as a Jewish organization whose goal is to represent the Jewish community and that alone, I do believe Jewish organizations have a right to lobby those in the NY senate who were involved with this issue to insure that the rights of these organizations and all religious institutions who do not recognize the validity of gay marriage do not see government benefits withheld, government funds, contracts and services denied and privileges such as tax exemptions revoked because of their opposition. Acceptance is a two way street, you cant demand someone accept you right to marry your partner while denying them the right to disagree, agree to disagree.

  7. To play devils advocate:

    First of all, in terms of secular gay marriage for Goyim (and Jews), it is a very important issue for us as religious Jews. It violates one of the 7 Mitzvos Bnei Noach (according to the Gemara it is included within arayos). Chazal say the mabul in the times of No'ach was brought about by homoseculaity. G-d calls it a to'eiva in his Torah even though it was practiced by Egyptians. This is not simply telling Goyim they can't eat pork (which would be ridiculous), this is not "live and let live" (the people by the mabul said that, and they all died), but this is a serious serious issue.

    Second of all, sometimes being a "light unto the nations" means standing up and fighting against evil. Even if it's not an effective kiruv method, but in some situations it may be appropriate to stand up an defend G-dliness in the world. Mesilas Yesharim talks about kana'us as an aspect of loving G-d. If G-d hates something (and presumably that which is not simiply forbidden but also called a to'eivah is something hated by G-d... and I mean the action, not the person who has the desire), then we have to hate it. And when those boundaries are being breached, we have to stand up and defend G-d's honor.

  8. Supposedly there's a medrash that says the Noah's Flood came because they started "kotvin ketuba lezachar". Gay marriage was cause for destruction of the world. Not gay acts, but formal societal recognition. If Jews think the world is in danger from gay marriage is it any wonder they protest? Woulnt you protest the guy in the seat next to you on the boat started making a hole under his seat? A hole under his seat would sink you too.

    Disclaimer: I could not find this medrash. I did find the gemarah in Sanhedrin 108. that says bestiality and adultery were rampant but the Flood was only sealed because of "chamas" (robbery), as it says, (Genesis 6:11-13):

    11 And the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with "chamas". 12 And God saw the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt (see Avodah Zarah 23:, "anytime the bible says 'corrupt' it means lewdness"); for all flesh had corrupted (see Rashi here: "all flesh" refers to even animals and birds were fucking different species) their way [Sifsei Chachamin: "their way" is a sexual reference, like the "way" of a man in a woman] upon the earth (but the fish behaved). 13 And God said unto Noah: 'The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with "chamas" through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.'

    Clearly, there is no reference to homosexuality but in the words of R' Yochanan, Sanhedrin 108. "The farm animals fucked the wild animals and the wild animals fucked the farm animals and they all fucked the people and the people fucked them all... Look at the power of robbery, for that generation did everything bad and were only destroyed for stealing, as it is written, ''The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with chamas'."

  9. רבי הונא בשם רבי אמר דור המבול לא נימוחו מן העולם עד שכתבו גמומסיות לזכר ולבהמה
    Rabbi Huna said in the name of Rebbe that the Generation of the Flood was not wiped out of the world until they wrote marriage contracts between a man and a man and between a man and an animal. (Midrash Rabbah 26:5 in Genesis)

  10. I have seen the argument put forth that G-d created homosexuals as a test. They mean that gays are being tested, to see if they can overcome their desires. I think that's not it. I think more likely strait society is being tested, to see how we deal with a minority group within us. Will the overwhelming majority decide that their discomfort (or worse) is a reason to hurt other people, strip away their rights, make their desires criminal?

  11. This does not compute.
    How can a person campaigning for any rights or privileges say that another group has "no right" to protest? This really puts into question any intellectual honesty you may have claimed to have. You're saying people should live and let live, when you clearly don't practice it- so long as "let live" means "let publicly disagree with something I want."

    In addition, you keep reiterating that you are Orthodox, but then saying that people shouldn't be chided for not keeping Halacha. You say you are straddling a line or integrating Orthodox and Gay, but it seems pretty clear that in many ways, you are over the line, and can't admit it. Live and let live has never in history been a Jewish concept.
    I'm not saying that people should discriminate against anyone else or treat minorities inequitably, but your points are simply not consistent.


It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews