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This is a continuation of the letters to In Jerusalem on Orthodox Gays. Use the arrow buttons to navigate through the letters.

THE LAST WORD ON ORTHODOX GAYS July 17, 1998

 

I am an orthodox Jewish man and I'm gay. Did I want to be this way?

Did I choose this? Did I try to change? No, I never chose this, didn't want it and did try to change. I tried to change because people like Chaya Rochel Schwartz and the anonymous haredi [ultra-orthodox] rabbi hate me for what I am. I tried to change because I was told by the anonymous rabbi's fellow haredim that what I am is evil and if I can't change and can't keep myself from acting on what I am, I should kill myself. This was not something said to me by some schoolyard bully nor by an ignoramus. This was said by prominent rabbis in the haredi world. I'm sick. I'm disgusting. I don't deserve respect.

Anonymous Rabbi, Ms. Schwartz, Ms. Anonymous, and all the rest who feel this way about me, allow me to clear the record once and for all. I'm not ill. I was going crazy, but it was because I was trying to fit into what I was told I should be. Not because of what I am. Perhaps you are not aware of the statistics, so allow me to enlighten you. According to the most optimistic estimates, it is possible for only 1/3 of all homosexuals to change in any way. These are not my numbers. These numbers are from Rabbi David Bleich of Yeshiva University in his responsa on homosexuality. These numbers are from NARTH, a national organization in the United States dedicated to "curing" homosexuality. These numbers also include those who claimed they had changed after being tortured with such barbarous acts as electro-shock therapy. It includes those who learned to lie. It includes those who got married and a few years later destroyed their families because they realized they were fooling themselves. It includes those who claimed to have changed and killed themselves a few years later when they realized that they hadn't.

Finally, allow me to address your readers who feel as Ms. Schwartz and the anonymous rabbi do. I am an orthodox Jew. I keep as many mitzvot as I can. I keep Shabbat, kashrut, teffilin - all manner of Jewish law in fact. However, Anonymous Rabbi, Ms. Schwartz, there is one particular Jewish law that you may have forgotten in your zeal. One which I have tried to hold to as much as possible. It is "v'ahavta lre'echa kamocha." Love your fellow Jew as yourself.

by Kevin J. Cohen

 

I was stunned to read the horrible things that were said about gays and lesbians. The haredi rabbi claims that homosexuality is forbidden by the Torah, although if he is indeed a rabbi, he surely knows this is not the case. That certain acts are forbidden by the Torah is well known, but certain acts are forbidden to heterosexuals as well, and this does not constitute a prohibition against all sexuality/intimacy.

Homosexuality is not and never has been forbidden by the Torah. Only actions are, and not even all of those. It's easy to make unsupported claims that condemn an entire group of people. I think it's shameful that a person who claims to be an Orthodox rabbi would do such a thing.

As to "Anonymous", I feel a great deal of sympathy for her. It is surely true that there may be people who turn to partners of the same sex out of hurt or bad experiences with members of the opposite sex, just as there are gays and lesbians who find partners of the opposite sex out of fear; fear of condemnation, fear of isolation, fear of cruelty and ignorance.

She writes that "God did not make anyone gay." Perhaps He did not make her gay, and I believe that of all people, she is the only one who can know that. And if she has indeed found happiness and freedom in her new choices, I can't be anything other than happy for her. But to label an entire segment of the population as "stuck" and "psychologically ill" because of her own experiences is simply horrid.

Ms. Anonymous, even the group NARTH, which takes much the view you seem to, admits that only a third of the people who come to them wanting desperately to "become" heterosexual succeed in forming relationships of some kind with members of the opposite sex. I find it hard to understand why some people cannot grasp that God made people of all types. Left-handed and right-handed, blue-eyed and brown-eyed, and yes: gay and straight.

I understand that the editors of In Jerusalem wanted to provide "equal time" for other views, but I wonder whether there should be a limit to that kind of thing. Comparing gays and lesbians to murderers, thieves, idolaters and adulterers is nothing short of incitement to violence, and we have all seen in this country what unbridled personal attacks on other people can lead to. It would behoove us all to guard our tongues and pens.

by Kara Silver, Boulder Creek, CA

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