Saturday, May 29, 2010

Independence and Conformity

When I was in high school I felt that doing anything remotely Jewish meant subscribing to this whole world that I hated so much. It also meant that I wasn't my own person and everyone would think that I was just another Jew. Throughout college I've been attempting to internalize that there is so much more to a person than their religious beliefs or their community- and there is no way that any two people can be exactly the same.

There's an important component to our religion, some may argue the most important component, and that's community. We have an obligation to be part of the community, to contribute to the Jewish lives we all live, and make it feel that none of us are alone by constantly reenforcing being part of one nation. Unfortunately, the Jewish community creates labels, stereotypes, and establishes who you are based on where you pray, or how you keep the Torah based on where you live. While those labels suck, it's important to focus on the better parts of it- like feeling included as part of a whole.

Just by observing commandments, a person doesn't have to worry that they are being "just like everyone else". Going to the same high school, or colleges, or living in the same communities and following the same laws- doesn't mean that a person is not an individual. It just means that they are part of a whole. But every person within the whole can still be an individual. They can build their own connection to God and have their own styles, taste in music, and everything. Don't be scared to be part of a community, just because it comes with labels and stereotypes. Seek to be your own person while still feeling part of a greater whole.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Some theories I have that in no way reflect anyone's opinion but my own. But I do think someone can learn from what I say.

One thing I feel very strongly about is the absolute power of Halacha. It exists, and cannot be changed by any regular authorities today. The greatest of Rabbi's can interpret the law that was given to us. However, that does not mean that every word spoken by sages, commentaries, and the like over the past 3,000 years is absolute truth. Our Rabbis and sages have taught, said, and ruled on many different subjects. Most of them have commented on many subjects, but that does not indicate a Halachik ruling. The more Religious public and learned population takes for granted that everything said by our Rabbi's in the past are automatically rulings for generations. Very often, they were only values for their generations. Our Rabbis today have the right to make rulings based on what is right for our generation.

Another thing that I like to focus on for myself is the understanding that until God comes down from the Heavens, or sends a Rabbi like R' Chaim Rappaport (author of the tremendous "Judaism and Homosexuality") to give a solution as to what a frum homosexual should do with their lives, I will just have to do the best I can to live my life. I will have to live my life the way I feel God wants me to and do the best I can to observe his commandments, while also attempting an emotionally stable existence (via my being out of the closet) to ensure my happiness.

Something I feel incredibly strong about is that God wants us all to try our best. In my humble opinion, Hashem want us all to do the best job we can serving Him. We all have the individual right to create our own relationship with God and no Rabbi, ancient or modern, can tell us how to do that. All God wants is to see us trying, to see us attempting at creating a life within His boundaries, or anything we can do close to that. That's all He wants, and all He can ask for. In my opinion.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I'm feeling stressed. Obviously, it's finals right? No. I'm a senior, thank God finals are pretty okay this year. But socially, I feel like I have a million people that I want to be with in a million different places at a million different times. And while, ideally, I would like to satisfy all of them, I just try do what makes me the happiest, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. While it may not be fair of me to flip-flop from group A to family back to group A and then to group B, maybe it's not fair for me to obligate myself to be in so many places at one time?

I'm not saying this to sounds haughty, even though I know it does. I say this because it hurts me on the inside, makes me very upset and almost irreconcilable sometimes when I know I'm letting friends down. So when I make plans to do three things one night, and satisfy four different parties, and I end up doing only one or two of those things, it makes me very uncomfortable in my own skin, I just want to go back in time and fix everything that went wrong. And sometimes I just need to stick with one group at a time and focus on the people that currently fit the best into my life right now. And while that may be selfish, I know how much I do try to be involved in every group- even though it doesn't always work out.

Sometimes there are things I really want to do, but don't have time for or can't do them, and it upsets me. The problem is I end up upsetting myself by not hanging out with you because I really do want to hang out with you. It's just not so easy sometimes. And I hate how sad it makes me when I can't plan for 28 hours in the day, as well as to have a car, and be able to be where I want to be exactly when I want to be there. In fact, it sucks. I just have to try and get through it and make sure to stay happy? Sometimes I just need to challenge myself, and help myself grow, and writing this out should totally help. So thanks for listening.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Family Outing

Hey, so three topics to come within the next few days, but I'll start by answering a commenter who often asks what my family thinks about everything.

My extended family and cousins have only recently heard of my coming out, and I thank them for all their support and love and hope that people will learn from having me in their family. My parents generation doesn't know as much, many don't know anything about my sexuality, but seeing as their more distant from my life, I don't feel pressured to tell them as much. Although some I see kinda often and it's frustrating to be asked when I'm dating and when I'm getting married.

The hardest people to tell were the people I was closest to- so the last people that knew were my roommate, followed by my siblings. I was so scared that who I was would change in their eyes, so scared of being judged or not trusted or scolded, or worst of all, cut out, from their lives that I didn't want to tell them. My roommate had heard from other sources, since he travels in my social circles but I still pushed off telling him, and he was really was as amazing as anyone could hope for, he had already had time to process, but he didn't ask questions, didn't freak out, just took it in and accepted it, and to this day is still my roommate and best friend. Thanks.

My siblings were another story. One of my (3) sisters has been my rock in this area since high school and I don't know where I would be without her, so thanks. But the others, since they weren't in my social world too much and more conservative based of of how we were all raised, I pushed it off for as long as possible. With some of them it needed to be confronted head on, and with some it just had to be mentioned in passing. And while I wish it was easier to discuss it openly with them like I do with my friends, I love that I can still be a part of their lives as much as I always have been, and they are my four (or more, including spouses) best friends in the world and I literally pray that our relationship only grows and continues in the future, and doesn't stop if I do something they may not approve of.

My parents were the first people I told. I wasn't going to come out socially, and hope it didn't get back to them when they live ten minutes away from YU- and they're my parents. It was difficult, but they knew I had been struggling with this since high school, I just don't think they realized I would ever come out. But I did, and it was discussed once or twice over the course of 18 months and that was really hard. I felt like I hadn't come out at all. But recently, since the YU Panel, the channels have been a bit more open as they are more willing to understand that I struggle with something that conflicts with my desire to be Frum, and I think they realized how deep that struggle can go. I have to thank the awful response of R' Twersky to the event for my father being so angry with him for being unwilling to allow me to be in the Orthodox world. So while I'm not bringing anyone home anytime soon, I know that I will always have their love, and mostly their support.

It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews