Monday, February 22, 2010


As a psych student, I often attempt to merge the schools of thoughts found in the Torah I try to study, and the psychology classes I have taken. How much of Torah takes into account the thoughts and feelings of true human nature?

One of my favorite things of Judaism is the mourning process. The Torah allows for the most natural and safest way for a person to heal after the death of a loved one- allowing a day without Mitzvot until the body is buried, a week of purging- for all emotions and feelings to be expressed. Then a month of remembrance and a 30-day gathering to really heal and remember the good. Finally a year long expression of love and prayer through Kaddish. SO as to never forget the pain that uou have experienced and how to express to Hashem your love for Him and have Him take care of the soul of the departed.

However, I do recognize that often time Halacha seems so out of touch with reality. Like the feelings of pain and anguish I feel over the prospect of spending a life alone as the Rabbi's would want, although that's not my plan. And when human beings try to do the best they can to cope and enjoy life in the world, while sometimes Torah seems to only want us to focus on the world to come and do everything here to make our reward greater there. How does the Torah address social conformity, peer pressure, and the 'struggles' of the 21st century of guarding your eyes and guarding your tongue when there seems to be evil all around us- that's up to us to do our best, but it would have been nice to have more of a guidance, like in the laws of mourning. Torah can be practical, Torah can be out there, we have to figure out a way to make it all work in our lives.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Eyes Wide Open

So last week I saw this movie playing in the Village- an Israeli film entitled "Eyes Wide Open". Shout out to you, who I saw it with. The premise of the movie is a secret gay relationship taking place between two Hassidic Jews in Meah Shearim, Jerusalem. One is married, one a single young struggle Yeshiva Bochur being moved from Yeshiva to Yeshiva b/c he is a sinner.
The dotted section is a spoiler, so if you plan on seeing the movie, do not read the dotted line section.

From a religious perspective it was frightening. The community gets wind that the owner of a butcher shop is harboring a student who was kicked out of his Yeshiva for "a sin". There are "rumors", they say, though the community never mentions the word or sin itself. They also put signs up announcing their is a sinner in their midst. They are 'fearful' for their community and their children, letting such a sin inside. The butcher shop owner, with a wife and children, falls into a relationship with the Bochur, and after they threaten to take away his family and livelihood, he is forced to have Ezri leave.

From a homosexual perspective, the relationship is real, loving, and wrought with the pain and guilt that each party feels, knowing their love is a sin. My favorite part of the movie was when the married man, confronted, by his Rav, claims that before his relationship with Exri, he "had never felt alive, now he finally feels alive". It made it all very real, that there was more to them than simply sexuality or a physical "ta'avah", it was true love.

The ending was the married man entering a purification spring, where he once went with Ezri, dunking three times, then a fourth, and never coming up for a period of about fifteen to thirty seconds and then credits rolled. In my opinion it felt as if it didn't matter whether he came up alive, whether he was killing himself or not, b/c without Ezri, back in this loveless and life void of happiness, it didn't matter, his life might as well have been over.

As opposed to the ultra-Orthodox that the movie portrays, my recent experiences have taught me to thank Hashem that I am Modern Orthodox. I fear, that for me to have grown up more ultra-orthodox, rather than modern, I would not be able to stay frum. It is simply too hard, in a black and white world, to have feelings that are gray and let them in. You either go one way or the other. Being Modern has allowed me to accept the gray areas, explore the gray, and embrace everything- even if it doesn't fit into the strict black and white categories religion often imposes upon us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Don't judge your friends...

... Until you reach the same point as them.
One of my favorite and all time important lessons for life. Applicable to everyone- but I have to relate it back to my own stories.

Recently, in the argument for change (from gay to straight), I've just needed to say it- loud and proud- Don't tell me what I should do until you've experienced it. Until you've experienced the pain and the suffering and struggle and the depression- don't send me a JONAH pamphlet or tell me to buy Arthur Goldberg's book.

At the YU Seforim Sale where I cashiered, someone picked up Arthur's JONAH book and began to announce what an important book it was and how everyone should read it. Now, I can only assume that this person was not a Jonah member or success story, because those are few and far between. And even if someone does advocate change, I promise reading a book will not 'fix' anything. I promise you the road is much longer and harder than that.

So again, I say, anyone out there who is not gay- never has been, never will be- anyone out there who is upset by the panel or the existence of homosexuality in the Orthodox community, you have no right. You have no right to judge or to tell us what what should do. Until you've experienced it yourself, which, trust me, is the last thing I wish for anyone on this Earth.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I promise this is not about any of my friends that are reading this blog. It's very personal, and involves ppl you don't know.
After finally coming out and becoming more confident with that aspect of my life, I finally found inner peace that i hadn't had since puberty. With that, I took the time to work on myself- find my strengths, find my weaknesses, and find all the things that made me who I am.

It doesn't matter how old you are, peer pressure will always exist. That's what makes the world go round and what's creates societies and builds cultures. Everyone influences each other. Its really important to constantly be aware of who you surround yourself with and the people you let into your life on a daily basis. Because as strong and as confident a person you are, others will always have an influence on what you do.

Recently I've been struggling with a fundamental of my religion because many of my friends were also, until I realized that just b/c they were struggling, that didn't make them better or stronger or more important ppl b/c of their difficulties. B/c I certainly have my own struggles and if there are few things about my life and who I am that I am confident in, there is no reason to give that up- it doesn't make me look better or worse in my friends eyes.

I am just me, and that's all I want to be, and that's all any of us should be- ourselves.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Novelty Item

I try not to complain about the mundane things, especially anything about my friends b/c I love them so much, and am so honored to have them in my life. But some friends (usually guys), be it individuals or groups as a whole, tend to focus on one part of me- my sexuality. I know it's not purposely, I know I am some what of a novelty item within the Orthodox Community and people have questions and that's fine and I'm here to answer them.

But honestly, sometimes it's hard to talk about it all the time, every day, every conversation. Especially when there's so much more to me, and especially when it's such a struggling issue, it's painful to talk about all the time. Sometimes it's my own fault for bringing it up in conversation, but usually my friends just want to know about different things- sometimes it's gay sex, sometimes gaydar, sometimes the struggles of religion, sometimes it's rating their attractiveness. It's hard for me to be this "topic of conversation", this person there to answer their questions- when I know that if I wasn't in their lives, they would never ask anyone else and it wouldn't be a big deal.

It's a little bit frustrating. Do they go around asking their straight girl friends who are girls which one of them is best looking? Rarely. It's not a comfortable position for them to put me in- even though they obviously don't do it purposely. And I don't stop them- sometimes it's nice to be the center of attention. But sometimes it's just awkward and I don't like being a novelty item.

I love all my friends and appreciate each and every relationship I have. Just wanted to vent a bit.

It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews