ENOUGH GAY BASHING - Friday, June 19, 1998
I found Chaya Rochel Schwartz's letter to the editor comparing Orthodox lesbians to vegetarian cannibals quite interesting. Since it's impossible to choose whether one is gay or straight, but it is possible to choose whether or not to be Orthodox, I can only conclude that Ms. Schwartz is in favor of encouraging women who are gay to abandon a Torah observant life. I wonder if Ms. Schwartz has discussed this with her rabbi, or whether she simply hit upon this novel idea by herself.
Personally, I have always been taught that one should "love people and bring them closer to Torah." That's from the Ethics of our Fathers (1:12), a book I recommend whole-heartedly to Ms. Schwartz.
by Lisa Liel in Efrat
I was shocked and hurt by Chaya Rochel Schwartz's letter. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered (g/l/b/t), while trying to maintain a life within a religious community is very difficult, particularly in Israel.
There are a variety of opinions regarding religious g/l/b/t. Some feel that we must be accepted into our communities as who we are, and be allowed to contribute to those communities openly, without having to hide, nor live with the anxiety of someone "finding out." Others feel that we can and should change, for several reasons, both halachic [Jewish law-based] and non-halachic. Either way, g/l/b/t are not exempt from keeping mitzvot [observing commandments], and should be encouraged, like anyone else, to learn as much Torah and to do as many mitzvot as possible. These are only two of the many goals accomplished by such support groups.
Of course, I assume that Ms. Chaya Rochel Schwartz meant to bring some humor into this world (as we could certainly use more of it), and did not mean to hurt anyone. However, Ms. Schwartz, as a fellow Jew, I would like to respectively point out to you, that you inadvertantly did. You may very well have hurt members of your own community who are hiding in fear, yet whom you may very well love and care about.
This is not the first time that I have been referred to as "a contradiction in terms," but I am not. I am a gay and Orthodox man. I exist.
Name Witheld Upon Request