Thursday, July 29, 2010


I'm upset for a number of reasons. One, because I have other topics to write about. Two, because I have to address people who think they know all about my life even though they've never experienced it, and three because people can't be happy with small accomplishments. I'm mostly responding to this- Hirhurim.

I can't explain the thought process of other people who are unhappy with the Statement of Principles (now in Hebrew!) issued and signed by over seventy Orthodox leaders and the list is growing. Those who haven't signed have said as follows: Don't ask, don't tell. We don't need to know who in a congregation is gay, and who is straight, all that matters in a Shul is that a person is Jewish. I would ordinarily agree on a fundamental level, but realistically, Rabbi's, that's not true! It's not true that no one judges in a Shul, and it's not true that a person can just grow old and single and no one will try and set them up other than their parents. And even if a few of this person's friends know that they are gay and word doesn't spread (not possible, but let's just say) those friends will watch the person in Shul, and wonder if the Rabbi will accept him, or if he belongs in the congregation. Further, when I've been in congregations and I wasn't out, I felt very uncomfortable taking honors like everyone else. I just felt like I didn't belong. This statement assures me that regardless of the congregation, if the Rabbi has signed on I know that I belong, and I feel comfortable just being like everyone else.

Also, enough of this don't ask don't tell. Don't tell me that the only people who need to know are my parents and maybe a few friends. You know as well as I do that everyone's Shabbos table revolves around who was in Shul that is single and can be set up, or who is dating and who is not and why they don't want to be set up. It's much easier for a person to say "I'm gay" then it is to lie, a million times over, about why they're not ready to date, which, by the age of 25 basically a person runs out of excuses.
Number one pet peeve, stated both in Hirhurim and by R' Twersky at the infamous Shiur- as the line that caused me to walk out in the middle- that coming out is only a result and product of Western culture and the 21st century. Ifrst of all, historically that's just not true. And I will tell you from a personal standpoint, I did not come out because Western culture made it an option. I came out because I was miserable in the closet. I felt empty, alone, like I had no purpose, and like my life would never become anything worthwhile, and I hated myself. And since I came out things have only, Baruch Hashem, improved. So don't tell me why I came out, and why coming out is not necessary for a gay person to do and they should just keep it to themselves. You get to rub your marriages, perfect families and children and heterosexual dating stories in my face every day, I'm allowed to tell you why I don't have those things like everyone else. You get to say on facebook you're interested in women, I'm allowed to say I'm interested in men. It's as simple as that. Until everyone who is heterosexual keeps "don't ask don't tell" gay people shouldn't have to either.

Monday, July 26, 2010


For those of you that haven't seen it, (what are you- living under a rock?):

I had a lot of emotions racing through me when this was released- I read through each paragraph with a fine-toothed comb, and to see names of many Rebbeim who I admire and respect on the signature list, and started to tear up a bit. Then I shared with the world. I am happy. I am proud. I feel like I finally belong in places where, honestly, I was scared to enter because of how the sommunity would judge me. But now I know that the Orthodox community- or at least their leaders are no long judging, and are willing to accept the struggles of a homosexual in the Orthodox world, and understand the difficult things we go through.

Portions that struck me in a good way- gay Jews have the right to belong to a congregation and make it their community, gay Jews have the right to refrain from seeking out reparative therapy if they feel it would be more harmful than helpful, children of gay couples should be accepted fully, and that gay Jews should not be encouraged to marry members of the opposite gender. All these values that are unfortunately not approached properly in other communities, and that many Rabbi's do not believe belong in the Orthodox world for whatever reason. But everyone on that list does believe it.

When asked what the next step after the YU Panel should be- this is it. This is the step that was/is needed for the gay Orthodox Jewish population. Awareness, sensitivity and acceptance into the communities we have always called home. All I wish for now is more and more Orthodox leaders to sign on in order to continue the strength displayed by the Orthodox community in releasing this statement.

And for those who asked, I wouldn't change anything about this letter. Not. One. Thing.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


A few months ago, I spoke about how sometimes a person gives up part of themselves for a specific cause, if they want to. I wanted to expand upon that, to explain that I am not the only person. Something that I am only coming to grips with now, is that this is not only my fight, my cause, my passion. There are so many more out there- just like me- who are struggling, or even who have come to terms with who they are- but still feel passionately about bringing the issue of sexuality or even homosexuality to the forefront of the Orthodox world.

We are many- and we are finally giving each other strength to show the Jewish world that we are here. I know that I do not advocate for someone to come out- ever- if they don't feel it's right for them. But so many ARE coming out, and have been coming out, and this is OUR cause. This is our cause to work on the best way we can, to try and be Frum and gay, to try and be proud of who we are after years and years of being to scared to speak up- or even specifically being told to keep silent. I'm not for an all gay Orthodox community, b/c the Jewish religion is not about separating and branching off (no matter how many jokes you want to make about break-away shuls), Judaism is about community and I, for one, do not want to leave the world I grew up, and feel part of, just because it may not be the most comfortable at this time. I will fight to stay in the world I love and in the community I've always belonged to because it feels right.

I am not alone, and I realize now I never was, ever. None of us are alone, just because we feel alienated, we are making strides every day for homosexuals to be accepted (I do NOT say permitted) in the Orthodox community. I love all of you out there, fighting with me to understand what it means to be Frum and gay. And good luck.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Change, part 1

As part of my summer fellowship, we've been discussing the limits and definitions of change within the Orthodox world. What should change? What shouldn't? Why do certain laws adapt to the times we live in, while others are stuck in their original textual form?

It's important for me to realize that I don't have the answer, I don't know what is allowed to be changed or not changed in Halacha. I do question daily, however, what God wants from his people living in a modern world. As far as the world as a whole, change is key. Change is part of life- growing, evolving, opening new chapters and finishing old ones. Communities evolve, culture evolves, society evolves, towns, cities, countries, all grow to meet the new standards and change the way of life. So why can't the Jewish/Orthodox community? Why do we and many of our leaders insist on being stuck in the 20th century while the world moves into the 21st?

Having grown up in an Orthodox mind frame, I understand and believe that the Jewish community puts up boundaries and avoids change in order to weed out the perceived "bad" from the world around them. However, there is no form of clear definition as to what constitutes good and bad in the world around us. I'm not talking just about sexuality, but women's rights and slavery and all these things that the Torah seems to be clear on, but don't make any sense in a modern context. Again, I never advocate for change of existent Torah law. But that doesn't mean progress and growth and slow change can not occur. It can, and the Torah can be brought into the 21st century, like I honestly believe God meant for it to.

I know i suddenly seem lie a radical liberal, but I hate to be put in any sort of box.I don't subscribe to changing the Torah, but I do believe in questioning it, and ensuring that everything we have stuck to for 2000+ years is what we were meant to stick to, and not just small practices that became strict rules that became rigid laws and unchanging mindsets. There are many things that can change. Stay tuned for "Change, part ii".

It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews