The Bible [Torah] does not condemn homosexuality in general, but
it does condemn three things: homosexual rape, the ritual prostitution
that was part of the Canaanite fertility cult that was apparently, at
one time, in Jewish practice as well, and homosexual lust and behavior
on the part of heterosexuals.
Homosexuality And Judaism
What is Homosexuality?
The American Psychological Association (1996) says as follows:
Three sexual orientations are commonly recognized: homosexual,
attraction to individuals of one's own gender; heterosexual, attraction
to individuals of the other gender; or bisexual, attractions to members
of either gender. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes
referred to as gay (both men and women) or as lesbian (women only).
Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers
to feelings and self-concept. Persons may or may not express their
sexual orientation in their behaviors.
It is very important to distinguish between homosexual feelings,
and homosexual behaviors. Many people of both genders experiment with
their sexuality during adolescence. Many gay people date persons of the
opposite sex, to try to 'fit in'. Many heterosexuals will have at least
one homosexual experience. This does not per se establish sexual
orientation. A homosexual, then, is a person whose fundamental sexual
attraction is to people of his or her own gender.
Many people feel that homosexuality is an illness. The American
Psychiatric Association (1996) is very clear about this:
For a mental condition to be considered as a psychiatric
disorder, it should either regularly cause emotional distress or
regularly be associated with clinically significant impairment of social
functioning. . . [Homosexuality] does not meet these criteria, [because]
a significant portion of gay and lesbian people were clearly satisfied
with their sexual orientation and showed no signs of psychopathology. .
. [Homosexuals are] able to function effectively in society, and those
who [seek psychiatric or psychological] treatment most often did so for
reasons other than their homosexuality.
In my counseling practice, I find that most issues relate to
self-acceptance, families, peers, dating, and lack of acceptance by
others. Sexual orientation does not, per se, cause these problems and
they are found in all social groups. The high level of suicide,
alcoholism and other forms of self-rejection amongst young homosexuals
is more than likely, the internalization of society's stigmatization and
rejection of the natural inclination of gay people to desire people of
their own gender.
There is much debate about what causes homosexuality: is it a
genome, or is it environmental? Nature, or nurture? The debate is, to
me, rather abstract. Realistically, it does not matter why a person is
gay, for we cannot change genomes yet, and we cannot change environments
ex post facto. It suffices to accept that people come to an acceptance
and understanding that they are homosexual, and that this understanding
Many Orthodox Jewish sources emphasize choice in homosexuality.
The assumption is that people choose to be gay. People do not choose
their sexuality. In any case, who would choose to be oppressed and
marginalised by society? Who would choose to be excluded from social
events? Who would choose to be ridiculed, to be stigmatized, to be
beaten up, to be isolated? Who would want to be forced to hide, to
pretend to be what one is not?
In these ways, homosexuals are like Jews. Judaism is not something
we choose, but is that which is chosen for us, by birth or by the
intense beliefs which lead one to conversion. One can pretend not to be
Jewish; one can 'convert' to Christianity, or live whatever lifestyle,
but Judaism is what we are. To paraphrase: one can take the Jew out of
Judaism, but one can never take Judaism out of the Jew. Homosexuals can,
and often do, lead heterosexual lives; yet their souls, their feelings,
and their desires are and always will be towards members of their own
Since homosexuality is not a choice, it stands to reason that one
cannot be 'recruited' to become gay or lesbian. There is much literature
amongst fundamentalist Christian groups, alleging that homosexuals
recruit young people to their 'lifestyle'. It is true that male
prostitutes are often recruited from amongst homeless heterosexual teen
males, desperate for money for food or drugs. The movie, My Own Private
Idaho, includes a discussion of this very issue by the actors portraying
young hustlers. The prostitutes saw themselves as heterosexual in
orientation, in proportion to the general population. Beyond this
specific type of recruitment, a heterosexual cannot be 'recruited' to
change his/her orientation.
We hear much about the so-called 'homosexual lifestyle'.
Homosexuals are not stereotypical, any more than Jews are stereotypical.
There are gay athletes and heterosexual dress designers. Lifestyle,
then, is as varied as the 7-10% of the cross-section of the population
who are predominantly or exclusively homosexual in orientation. Some
gays are politically conservative; some are wild radicals. Some are
promiscuous, some are monogamous. Some live in so-called gay ghettos.
Some listen to Abba and dress well; others listen to Wynona Judd and
dress carelessly. The Internet website, Twice Blessed, which is the
Jewish GLBT archive, (GLBT stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and
includes the following homosexual Jews in its December birthday list:-
a.. Dr. Anna Freud was born on December 3rd, 1895. Anna, a
prominent psychologist and the daughter of Sigmund Freud, died on
October 9th, 1982.
b.. Dr. Gilbert Miller was born on December 5th, 1934.
Gilbert, the father of two sons, died on August 8th, 1986 from
c.. Edward Irving Koch was born on December 12th, 1924. He
is best known for having been the mayor of New York City.
d.. Elly Bulkin was born on December 17th, 1944. Elly is the
author of "Enter Password: Recovery" and co-author of "Yours in
e.. Jason Emanuel Gould was born on December 29th, 1966.
Jason, a handsome actor and filmmaker, will probably always be best
known for being the son of Elliot Gould.
There are many other famous Jewish homosexuals, including Leonard
Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Allen Ginsburg, Janis Ian, Marcel Proust,
Gertrude Stein & Alice B Toklas. We see no specific commonality, no
'lifestyle', in this group of Jewish homosexuals. Along with this
assumption about lifestyle, is the allegation that some homosexuals
emulate the roles found in heterosexual couples, both in sexual matters,
and in lifestyle. So-called "drag queens" and "butch" women are small
minorities. Homosexuals, by and large, are not looking for someone who
acts like a member of the opposite sex. A homosexual male is attracted
to his partner's maleness. As with any relationship, some people are
more dominant or assertive than others, but the stereotypical homosexual
relationship shown, for example, in Birdcage, is just that: a
stereotype, not reflective of reality in all situations, as valid as the
assertion that "all Jews are rich".
Many Orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Christians urge homosexuals
to change, to search out therapy that will make them heterosexual. This
is dangerous territory. The American Psychiatric Association (1996)
There is no published scientific evidence supporting the
efficacy of 'reparative therapy' as a treatment to change ones sexual
orientation . . . There is no evidence that any treatment can change a
homosexual person's deep seated sexual feelings for others of the same
sex. . . [Any] person who seeks conversion therapy may be doing so
because of social bias that has resulted in internalized homophobia, ...
Gay men and lesbians who have accepted their sexual orientation
positively are better adjusted than those who have not done so.
There is absolutely no evidence that homosexuals are more prone to
molest children or young adults, than heterosexuals. Likewise, there is
no evidence that homosexuals would be worse parents than heterosexuals.
Studies comparing groups of children raised by homosexual
parents find no developmental differences between the two groups of
children in their intelligence, psychological adjustment, social
adjustment, popularity with friends, development of social sex role
identity or development of sexual orientation
Jewish society, is for the most part, homophobic and heterosexist
in nature. (Firestone, 1994).
Homophobia is strictly defined as an irrational fear of
homosexuals. In modern usage, however, homophobia has a broader meaning
and includes the expression of negative bias against lesbians and gay
men. It is bound up with a number of negative stereotypes about lesbians
and gay men . . . Heterosexism [describes] a spectrum of ideas and
practices that assume heterosexuality is superior to and/or more
'natural than homosexuality . . . Individuals who neither hate nor fear
homosexuals may still ignore their existence and needs by assuming that
everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is the norm by which
other sexual orientations should be judged.
A gentile homosexual man in his mid-20s told me the other day that
his mother recently married a Jewish man. He described meeting his new
step-grandparents and their family. To paraphrase his words to me, "I
have learned a lot of Yiddish, lately: shiksa, shaygetz, goy,
faygele....." What a positive image of Judaism we portray, with these
pejorative, bigotted terms? Are these the Jewish 'family values' that
are so integral to Judaism?
The President of Israel, Ezer Weizman, quoted by the Associated
Press on December 23, 1996
told a group of high school students in Haifa that he did not
like "a man who wants to be a woman or a woman who wants to be a man."
"I myself am disgusted by this,'' he said. Weizman told the students he
opposed the growing trend of homosexuals coming out of the closet.
``Like alcoholism, I don't think we need to encourage it or say it is
something wonderful,'' he said. Israel's chief Sephardic rabbi, Bakshi
Doron, said he supported Weizman's position, and was quoted by Israel's
army radio as calling homosexuality ``a despicable and abnormal
Weizman later issued a "statement of regret" , but did not
apologize for what he said.
It can be argued that this is but a reflection of society at
large. Judaism, however, is more than a reflection of society. We are a
belief system based on justice and positive ethical behaviors. In the
last part of my paper, I will discuss ways in which the Conservative
movement has suggested that we, as members of Or Shalom, can combat
homophobia and heterosexism, within ourselves, our congregation, and the
community at large.
The Biblical and Talmudic Positions on Homosexuality
[Much of this section paraphrases the research of Jason Knisley,
who wrote his amazing paper on the subject last year, at age 14.]
The Bible does not condemn homosexuality in general, but it does
condemn three things: homosexual rape, the ritual prostitution that was
part of the Canaanite fertility cult that was apparently, at one time,
in Jewish practice as well, and homosexual lust and behavior on the part
Let us examine each of the three concepts mentioned above before
proceeding to the Biblical references regarding homosexuality. The
first, homosexual rape, would be sinful (if not completely evil) even
without the word "homosexual" prefacing the word "rape."
Second, many of the references to men having sex with other men
refer to the Canaanite fertility cult. For instance, some English
translations of the word kedeshim render it "sodomites" when, in
reality, it should be "male temple prostitute."
The final point regards heterosexuals imitating homosexual
behavior. This is probably in place because of not only the Canaanites,
but because, to heterosexuals, homosexual acts would be unnatural. This
may also have been stated because ancient Greek society placed
importance on all men taking a male lover as well as a wife. Since
homosexual acts are not unnatural to homosexuals, this statement does
not apply to them.
Biblical references to homosexuality are very few, and most refer
to things that apply universally, regardless of sexuality. There are few
that could conceivably be about male-male love, not just the sexual act.
Rothman (1996) states that confronting the account of Sodom and
Gomorrah in Genesis is extremely difficult for gay men and lesbians.
Indeed, even without considering the halacha, these passages seem to
strongly indicate that the founding Jewish communities prohibited sex
between male partners.
This connection is made by juxtaposing the request of the
Sodomites with the final destruction of Sodom by the wrath of God. In
19:5 the men ask, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them
out to us, that we may know them." Since Lot responds to this request by
offering his virgin daughters as substitutes, few have questioned the
sexual content of this account, and therefore the prohibitive
implications for gays and lesbians.
In the ancient Near East, hospitality to travelers was considered
not a courtesy, but a religious duty. This idea is not only supported by
the Leviticus 19:33, but by the marked contrast between Abraham and
Lot's treatment of the angels and the townsmen's' treatment of them.
The violation that the people of Sodom made was not that of a
loving, homosexual relationship, but of inhospitality. This idea is not
a new interpretation since most comments, both within and without the
Bible, make the sins of Sodom out to be various things, but not
homosexuality. For example, Isaiah 1:9 & ff. and 3:9 declare it to be
because of a lack of social justice. According to Ezekiel 16:46-52, it
was disregard for the poor. (Schwartz, n.d.).
The Talmud and Midrashim often refer to the sins of Sodom as
pride, arrogance, and inhospitality. One mention of homosexuality comes
in the form of a statement having to do with the rape and robbery of
strangers. ("The Sodomites made an agreement among themselves whenever a
stranger visited them they would force him to sodomy and rob him of his
money.") While such things are homosexual, it is also true that they are
in the context of rape, robbery, and inhospitality. In this case, these
sins are not foreign to heterosexuality, either, and should be no
indicator of whether homosexuality is a sin. And if it were,
heterosexuality would have to summarily be declared a sin along with
homosexuality since heterosexuals have raped people, as well.
Other mention of homosexuality is limited. In Gen. 39, it seems
that both Potiphar and his wife had a sexual interest in the young
Joseph. (cf Gen. Rabba 91:1/Sotah 16b). I Sam. 18-20 describes the
intense love between David and Jonathan, in terms used nowadays to
describe homosexual love. Frequently, the point is made that Jonathan
"loved David as himself".
In another passage, that has been used, there are references to
kadesh and kedeshim mentioned in Deuteronomy 23:17-18, I Kings 14:24,
15:12, & 22:46, II Kings 23:7, and in Job 36:14. Some English
translations render it as "sodomite(s)." The literal translation,
however, is "holy man" or "holy men." This passage forbids the Israelite
men to become such, as it also does women.
Bible scholars today believe that these terms refer to the priests
and priestesses of the Canaanite Fertility Cult. Evidence outside of the
Bible tends to support the inference that both of these engaged in
ritual intercourse with male worshippers. It is asserted by Jacob
Milgrom that this and other later sections of Deuteronomy were additions
by a particular priestly school, known as H (for Holiness). The
Deuteronomy passage also seems to equate kedeshah with zonah, the Hebrew
word for female prostitute. Because of this, it seems a far better
translation of kadesh and kedeshim would be "male cult prostitute."
Rabbi Kelman quotes Harold Schulweis: "What the Bible inveighed against
was the pagan tradition that paid obeisance to pagan gods by all forms
of illicit behavior".(Kelman, 1995).
Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 tells the men of Israel not to "lie with a
male as with a woman;" the latter verse invokes the death penalty
because it is toevah. While toevah is usually translated as
"abomination," it is used, in the Bible, to refer to idolatry and its
In reference to this Norman Lamm states ( quoted in Kellner):
It may be . . . that an act characterized as an abomination is
prima facie disgusting and cannot further be defined or explained.
Certain acts are considered to'evah by the Torah, and there the matter
rests. It is, as it were, a visible reaction, an intuitive
disqualification of the act, and we run the risk of distorting the
biblical judgment if we rationalize it. To'evah constitutes a category
of objectionableness sui generis: it is a primary phenomenon.
A better translation of to'evah might be "distasteful", according
to Conservative Rabbi Joel Roth. And since the injunctions are in the
context of the Israelites imitating the practices of the Canaanites, the
injunctions are probably directed toward the homosexual prostitution
found in the Canaanite cult. It cannot be to prohibit all homosexual
behavior because it does not make an injunction toward female-female
sex. This cannot be an oversight since injunctions were made toward both
sexes regarding having intercourse with animals. Stuart Kelman, a
Conservative Rabbi, speculates that the prohibition may, in fact, be one
against bisexuality. Referring to to'evah, Boteach (1993) says "there
are many other uses of the word to'evah in the Torah which would not
depict a social loathing or repulsion of a particular mode of human
In terms of Conservative Jewish practice, Rabbi Kelman (1995)
further points out that "there is at least one instance where we, as
Conservative Rabbis, disregard to'evah completely. We may, according to
the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, officiate at a marriage
involving the offspring of an adulterous couple (mamzer) to a
In Genesis Rabbah 26:5 (cf: Hullin 92a-b), Rabbi Huna said in the
name of Rabbi Joseph, "The generation of the flood was not obliterated
from the world until they wrote marriage contracts/wedding hymns for
(males with) males and (people with) animals." (Grishaver, 4). The same
Rabbi Huna also equated lesbianism with harlotry.
To quote Jacob Rothman:
As described by Rabbi Yoel Kahn, the following five concerns are
reflected in the halakhic discussion of sexuality: economy of seed; the
procreative purpose of sex; the role of women and the conjugal duty of
men to engage in intercourse weekly (the onah); and the concern for
ritual purity. All five are based largely on ancient conceptions of
physiology, anthropology, and various theological claims regarding the
nature of revelation in the Torah. For example, in reference to the
fourth concern, it is understood that the Torah (Exodus 21:11) provides
an outline for conjugal rights. In the Mishna, the frequency in which
the onah must be provided is further specified. In addition, it is
explained that male sexual energy is boundless, while the energy of the
female is subdued and therefore must be aroused. As a result of this
biblical and physiological understanding there is an emphasis not only
on providing the onah, but on the specific techniques that men must
master in order to perform the latter correctly. The ancient rabbis were
fundamentally concerned with the proper methods of arousal in order to
fulfill this obligation. To be able to arouse a wife is viewed as a
mitzvah, or a sacred obligation for men. Therefore, according to this
understanding, sex between men is not a mitzvah because it occurs
outside of marriage, and does not focus on arousing a woman.
In reference to the other four concerns, the basic understanding
and biases of the ancient rabbis largely dictates the parameters of
sexual expression as defined in the halacha. Summarizing the behavioral
norms that are generated from these beliefs, it can be stated that sex
is only licit and sacred when it occurs: between opposite sex partners;
in the context of marriage; through vaginal intercourse; preferably in
the missionary style; at permitted times during the religious calendar;
at permitted times during the woman's menstrual cycle; with attention to
women's satisfaction and pleasure; with the expectation that it will be
Thus, homosexuality violates the mitzvah of procreative sex, (Gen.
1:28), as Rabbi Janet Marder points out. The natural order, as presented
in Genesis, was that woman was created to fulfill and complete man, so
that man would not be alone. (Diament). This prohibition went with
Rabbinic and Halachic assertions that Jews simply were not homosexuals.
In Kiddushin 82a, Rabbi Judah stated that "Jews are not suspected of
homosexuality". As Rabbi Bradley Artson points out (Grishaver) "The
Torah did not prohibit what it did not know".
Plaskow observes (Lerner, 1993) that "it's ironic that the
importance of procreation in the Jewish world is often coupled with a
rejection of homosexuality and the marginalization of gay and lesbian
Jews who want to become part of the Jewish community and who are,
despite their homosexuality, having children and raising families. And
then this (rejection) is argued for in the name of preserving the
community in the face of feeling that there aren't enough of us."
Maimonides, in Mishneh Torah, establishes rigid prohibitions
against homosexual behavior, although he later asserts that the
practices were unknown. (Hilkhot Issurei Biah 22:2). I will deal later
with the issue of procreation and homosexuality. In summary, the
Biblical and halachic prohibitions are based on three things: the
indignity of religious harlotry; the primacy of family in Judaism; and a
distinction between homosexual love, and homosexual practice, along with
much denial that loving homosexual relationships could be sustained.
There's a story in the Talmud, Masechet Derech Eretz (Chapter 4),
which relates that once Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar was coming from Migdal
Eder, from his teacher's house, and he was riding leisurely on his horse
by the seaside. A certain man chanced to meet him, and the man was
exceedingly ugly. Rabbi Shimon said to him, "Raka (simpleton), how ugly
are the children of Abraham our father." The other man replied, "What
can I do for you? Speak to the Craftsman Who made me." Rabbi Shimon
immediately dismounted from his horse and bowed before the man and said,
"I apologize to you, forgive me." He replied to him, "I will not forgive
you until you go to the Craftsman Who made me and say, "How ugly is the
vessel which You have made."
Rabbi Shimon walked behind him for three miles. When the people in
town heard of the arrival of Rabbi Shimon, they came out to meet him and
greeted him with the words, "Peace be unto you, rabbi." The other man
said to them, "Who are you calling rabbi?" They answered, "The man who
is walking behind you." Thereupon he exclaimed, "If this man is a rabbi,
may there not be any more like him in Israel!" He told the people the
whole story, and they begged him to forgive the rabbi, and he agreed,
only on the condition that he never act in this manner again.
The Holy One created all kinds of people. We have to accept,
welcome, and love that diversity God created, or else take those issues
up with the Creator, not with the person who was created. Diversity is
what makes each of us special. Inclusiveness, welcoming, and involvement
with the diverse people who share this earth with us make us a holy
community. Uniformity is destruction; diversity is our strength and our
It is not up to us to judge people based on the color of their
skin, or their gender, or their sexual orientation. If you have a
problem with the fact that a person is gay, a woman, or of a different
skin color, discuss your problem with the One Who created people to be
different, if you're so inclined. But remember that your problem is not
with the created but with the Creator.
by Rabbi Harris Goldstein, from the book: Being A Blessing :54
Ways You Can Help People Living With AIDS
The Traditional Viewpoint
As Rothman (1996) points out, any discussion of the Traditionalist
perspective must begin by recognizing that there has been a general
repudiation of homosexual relationships by the Jewish community. Quoting
Moshe Spero (1979), homosexuality "destroys the individual's ability for
ontological fulfillment in the halakhic world." Expanding on this
sentiment, many modern rabbis have attempted to explain why Judaism and
homosexuality are mutually exclusive. In reference to this question
Rabbi Norman Lamm (quoted in Kellner) has stated that homosexuality:
frustrates the divine intent of procreation; undermines the family; and
is biologically and anatomically unnatural. Concluding his argument he
asserts that homosexuals should be viewed as patients rather than
criminals. As a result, psychological assistance must be extended to
those who cannot avoid homosexual desire. This statement of course
denies the possibility of viewing homosexuality as a viable form of
sexual fulfillment and personal expression. Regrettably, this has been
the majority opinion of both Conservative and Orthodox rabbis. Although
it should be noted that the Reform and Reconstructionists movements have
generally taken a more tolerant stance on the issue of homosexuality,
there is still a failure on the part of the latter to extend religious
legitimacy to homosexual desire.
The most enlightened traditional viewpoint is expressed by Rabbi
Shmuel Boteach (1993):
Homosexuality cannot be a sexual deviance because the very idea
of a sexual deviance is a contradiction in terms. Sexuality is primarily
instinctive, and deviation is incompatible with an instinct. Why then
should homosexuality be frowned upon? Can we say it is anymore
objectionable than some of the other forms of sexuality or sexual
behavior that are sanctioned by Torah law? The only explanation we can
offer is that it is wrong merely and only because G-d said so. The
Creator of the Universe expressed a preference for heterosexuality and
mandated that it alone be practiced by humans.. . Judaism is willing to
accept that homosexuality represents no more of an aberration than
heterosexuality, because sexuality as a whole is naturally instinctive.
Not being a contemplative act, it is contradictory to label any sexual
behavior unnatural. However, the Jewish objection to homosexuality is
based purely on the fact that G-d has revealed the forms of sexual
behavior He deems to be holy, and those which are not. This is not to
say that any form is any more natural. It does mean that, aside from
heterosexuality, G-d has proscribed all other forms of sexual congress,
however desirable or gratifying, to humankind.
Boteach goes on to state that "Every young person must at some
time consider their sexuality and what they intend to do with it. Is it
to be an instrument for one particular variety of personal pleasure
alone, or is it a part of the whole compliment of human qualities that
can be used to create a thriving and happy community?"
In considering homosexuality, this young Orthodox rabbi, who at
the time he wrote this paper, was involved with the Lubavitch movement,
says that "While various papers have been published offering an Halakhic
appraisal, I have yet to see a coherent and wholesome perspective being
proffered, one which blends into an overall Jewish appraisal of human
sexuality. At present, Homosexuality in the more traditional sections of
the Jewish community is treated as an aberration at best and something
deeply shameful, a sickness, at worst. . .The problem with this
simplistic dismissal of such an emotive issue is its inhumanity." He
criticizes much of modern Orthodoxy for behaving in an intolerant,
homophobic manner. As Boteach says, "this approach contradicts
everything that Judaism stands for in the form of a good, loving,
long-suffering G-d who asks His creatures to emulate His mercy and
A sympathetic and mature Jewish approach to this subject must
begin with the premise that it is not unreasonable for the Creator to
demand that His people regulate their sexual activity. Every
civilization throughout history, from the most religious and
conservative to the most secular and liberal, have not felt it was
sufficient to advocate certain sexual pathways, but have instituted laws
to enforce these pathways. . . Judaism does not prohibit or in any way
look down upon homosexual love. In the eyes of Judaism the love between
two men or two women can be as natural as the love between a man and a
woman. What it does prohibit is homosexual intercourse. . . An
attraction felt by a man for other men or by a woman for other women
would not be described by the Torah as 'disgusting' or offensive, G-d
forbid. A human is a warm, lovable, and attractive being, whatever the
gender. Rather, it is acting upon that homosexual attraction which the
Torah forbids in the strongest possible language. A man's sexual
attraction to another man would be classified in the same category as
being tempted to eat at McDonald's. The Torah is sympathetic to the
attraction, but prohibits translating the attraction into action.
Boteach's argument, based on that of the Rebbe, z"l, is one of
nurture, rather than nature. He does, however, criticize any beliefs
that homosexual intercourse is unnatural.
For all those on the right fringe who argue absurdly that
homosexuality is a 'crime against nature,' and bring proofs to their
points of view from human anatomy and the seeming heterosexual union it
would suggest, I ask this: is oral sex or anal intercourse any more
natural than homosexuality. And how about masturbation? Is there
anything that would lead us to believe that the human hand was designed
for such purposes? And if the answer to both these questions is 'no',
then why are they only combating 'homosexuality' as an aberration and
crime against nature?
Since homosexuality is assumed to be environmental, it can be
'cured' through therapy." If homosexuality is a product of nurture
rather than nature, then there exists the possibility that a homosexual
may find sexual fulfillment in an heterosexual relationship,given enough
exposure." To Boteach, one can be a practicing Orthodox homosexual only
after all attempts at reorientation have failed. Boteach ventures into
some rather muddy waters by asserting that, as there is a shortage of
marriageable Jewish males, homosexual men are obligated to marry women.
Homosexual men must focus, not only on personal sexual and
relational satisfaction, but also on their larger responsibilities . . .
their lifestyles have repercussions that effect the Jewish community
worldwide, and leave many unhappy Jewish women who will never have
husbands.... The homosexual is a sexual being like all others, and
chooses his or her sexual preference. While he or she may indeed have
been born with a specific sexual disposition, that does not preclude the
possibility of finding sexual fulfillment in a heterosexual arrangement,
specifically marriage.... The desire of the Jewish establishment should
not only be that a homosexual should refrain from sinful activity, but
that that person should engage in building a family and find a
fulfilling life within the holy heterosexual institution of marriage.
Every time an Orthodox representative looks upon a homosexual as being
sick, it is simultaneously accepted that the homosexual can do nothing
to reorient his or her sexual condition. . . . the humane Jewish
approach to homosexuality must be based on a positive appraisal of the
benefits of heterosexuality, rather than deploring homosexuality, as
well as a clear commitment on the part of the homosexual to, at the very
least, make a concerted effort to live in accordance with divine law.
Only after an herculean effort has been made in the direction of
heterosexuality can he or she be justified in rejecting the Jewish
prohibition against homosexual behavior.
Ultimately, Boteach argues for understanding for, and inclusion of
homosexuals within the aegis of traditional Judaism.
homosexuality is not a deviance, but simply a divinely
proscribed act which becomes wrong because the Torah labels it to be so,
and not because it is a minority or anatomically incongruent sexual act.
This approach seeks to make the ostracisation or victimisation of
homosexuals logically impossible, because it recognizes their essential
identity with all humans. . . this does not mean that those homosexuals
who find it too difficult to refrain from homosexual life should be
discouraged from participating fully in all areas of Jewish communal
life. If they point out the contradiction that their private life poses
to Jewish observance, and use this as an excuse to remain ostracized,
they should be told that homosexuality is a sin like any other sin:
because someone eats a ham and mayo sandwich does not in any way impair
their ability to participate fully in Jewish life.(emphasis mine).
Boteach, a heterosexual, is more radical in many respects than a
gay Orthodox rabbi, writing under the pseudonym of Yaakov Levado (Anon.,
As a traditionalist, I hesitate to overturn cultural norms in a
flurry of revolutionary zeal. I am committed to a slower and more
cautious process of change, which must always begin internally. Halacha,
as an activity, is not designed to affect social revolution. It is a
society-building enterprise that maintains internal balance by
reorganizing itself in response to changing social realities. When
social conditions shift, we experience the halachic reapplications as
the proper commitment to the Torah's original purposes. That shift in
social consciousness in regard to homosexuality is a long way off.
The Orthodox establishment is far less comprehending than Boteach.
As Levado describes it, he is given only two options - act like a
heterosexual, or be celibate. Perhaps Levado should consider Boteach's
position, and accept the change in today's social realities. But, what
about the Biblical injunction to procreate? Again, Levado points out:
We are a people on the side of life-new life, more life, fuller
life. The creation story invited the rabbis to read God's blessing of
"be fruitful and multiply" as a command to have two children, a male and
a female. Every Jewish child makes the possibility of the Torah's
promise of a perfected world more real, more attainable. Abraham and
Sarah transmit the vision by having children. Often the portrayal of
blessing includes being surrounded with many children. Childlessness is
a punishment and curse in the tradition, barrenness a calamity. ..Gay
life does not prevent the possibility of producing or raising Jewish
children, but it makes those options very complicated. Being gay means
that the ordinary relationship between making love and having children
is severed. There is a deep challenge to the structure of Judaism, since
its very transmission is dependent on both relationship and
reproduction. For Jews who feel bound by mitzvot, bound by the duty to
ensure that life conquers death, the infertility of our loving is at the
core of our struggle to understand ourselves in the light of the Torah.
This problem, among others, lies at the root of much of the
Jewish community's discomfort with gay people. To a people that was
nearly destroyed fifty years ago, gay love seems irresponsible. Jews see
the work of their lives in light of the shaping of a world for their
children. By contrast, gay people appear narcissistic and
self-indulgent. Gay people's sexuality is thus a diversion from the
tasks of Jewish family and the survival that it symbolizes, and is
perceived as marginal to the Jewish community because we are shirkers of
this most central and sacred of communal tasks.
The solution Levado advocates is a creative one.
Holding fast to the covenant demands that I fulfill the mitzvot
that are in my power to fulfill. I cannot marry and bear children, but
there are other ways to build a family. Adoption and surrogacy are
options. If these prove infeasible, the tradition considers a teacher
similar to a parent in life-giving and thus frames a way that the
mitzvah of procreation can be symbolically fulfilled.
The Reform Position
In 1987, the UAHC (the Synagogue arm of the Reform movement)
adopted a resolution that sexual orientation should not be a
consideration for membership of, or participation in Congregational
activities. Congregations were urged to be inclusive. Again, in 1989,
the UAHC reaffirmed its commitment to promoting full congregational
membership opportunities for homosexual Jews, as singles, couples, and
In 1995, a resolution was proposed to the UAHC by the New York
Federation of Reform Synagogues, "not to discriminate on the basis of
sexual orientation in matters relating to the employment of rabbis,
cantors, educators, executives, administrators or other staff." This
resolution has yet to be enacted.
The Reform movement has accommodated a number of predominantly
homosexual Synagogues and Temples within it. On the one hand, this
provides a Jewish spiritual and communal environment where people can
count on acceptance and support. On the other hand, however, this
entrenches a form of apartheid for homosexual Jews. The Orthodox
community appears in many instances, to push homosexuals into the
closet: the Reform movement allows homosexuals to participate Jewishly,
though sometimes they prefer them to do it separately. I rather think
Boteach's position is the more enlightened path: full, non-judgmental
participation in Jewish life.
The Reform responsum to the issue of "be fruitful and multiply"
was best articulated by Yoel Kahn (CCAR, 1989):
I have been repeatedly asked: If we elevate homosexual families
to an equal status with heterosexual families, will we not undermine the
already precarious place of the traditional family? I do not believe
that encouraging commitment, stability and openness undermines the
institution of family - it enhances it. At present, many gay and lesbian
Jews are estranged from the synagogue, the Jewish community, and their
families of origin because of continued fear, stigma and oppression.
Welcoming gay and lesbian families into the synagogue will strengthen
all our families, by bringing the exiles home and by reuniting children,
parents and siblings who have been forced to keep their partners and
innermost lives hidden. Kelal Yisrael is strengthened when we affirm
that there can be more than one way to participate in the Covenant.
This is not by any means, a majority position. Leonard Kravitz ,
in the same booklet, wrote that "if the relationship between two
homosexuals is granted the status of kiddushin, a public matter, we are
changing the circumstances so that those who previously might not have
acted in a homosexual manner, now might." It seems even some liberal
rabbis believe that homosexuality is a lifestyle, and people can somehow
be 'recruited'. Indeed, if you include homosexuals in your congregation,
some people who were closeted, will come out to the congregation. Is
this regrettable, or desirable? What would Rabbi Levado say, if he had
such an option?
There are several Reform responsa to Leviticus. Rabbi Janet Marder
(Grishaver) , said in 1985 "I believe, and I teach my (homosexual)
congregants, that Jewish law condemn their way of life (sic). But I
teach also that I cannot accept that law as authoritative." Alan
Rosenberg (Grishaver) wrote in 1995, "G-d could not have written words
that would result in so much suffering for the Gay community and their
families - not my G-d".
Rabbi Leila Berner, was quoted in 1996, thusly:
"As my friend and teacher Rabbi Arthur Waskow has described it,
I have been engaged in a passionate, long-term bout of God-wrestling,'"
said Berner, whose congregation is predominantly gay and lesbian. "Just
as Jacob wrestled with the divine angel and emerged as `Israel'--the one
who has struggled with God and humans--and prevailed, so I and many
other lesbian and gay Jews have wrestled with Judaism and have
prevailed. Rather than run from our tradition, we engage with it through
a re-evaluation of its sacred texts and teachings and a reframing of a
Jewish ethic of sexuality based on deeply-rooted Jewish values."
Michael Tolkin supports Rabbi Berner (Grishaver) when he says:
Since Lev. 18:22 is as open to interpretation as any other
compound sentence in the Torah.... There are ways of reading it to
soften the harshest understanding, but... it might be more courageous to
say that it means exactly what we don't want it to mean. Better to defy
the law, to stand in direct rebellion to G-d, in a heroic conversation
Rabbi Steven Leder (1995) reinforces this position, in a moving
letter to his brother:
I know what the Torah says about homosexuality in this week's
portion; it's called "abomination punishable by death." But I don't
believe a loving God could have written such a thing. It could only have
come from well-meaning but ignorant humans who could not see that
homosexuality was part of God's diverse plan for humanity. It could only
have come from people who knew almost nothing of what we know today. It
could only have come from people who did not know my brother Greg; your
goodness and your deep Jewish soul.
The Conservative Position
That it has taken so long to get to the position of the
Conservative movement, in preparing this paper, should indicate to the
reader that finding a 'middle point', as the Conservative movement
strives to do, is difficult and at times, unmanageable.
In May 1990, the Rabbinical Assembly (the spiritual arm of the
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism)passed a resolution supporting
lesbian/gay civil rights, deploring violence against lesbians/gays,
reiterating that gays and lesbians are welcome as members in
Conservative congregations, and calling on synagogues and arms of the
Movement to increase awareness, understanding and concerns for lesbian
and gay Jews. The Women's League adopted essentially the same resolution
in November 1992. The United Synagogue adopted a similar resolution in
November 1991, but omitted the fourth point (calling for awareness,
In 1992, the Rabbinical Assembly (RA) Committee on Law and
Standards adopted two responsa on the issue of homosexuality and
Judaism. The majority report, written by then Chair Rabbi Joel Roth,
gave the (expectedly) conservative opinion that homosexuality was
clearly and plainly prohibited by the Torah as a to'evah ,and that was
that, contemporary understandings of the nature of sexuality and sexual
orientation notwithstanding. Homosexuals who acted on their sexuality
and were not celibate were sinning, period. As Rabbi Elliot Dorff (1995)
Most within this group openly worried about the future viability
of the Jewish family if homosexual relations are condoned, and they also
asserted that (acceptance of homosexuality) would establish a slippery
slope which would make it impossible for us as a movement to affirm
Jewish sexual values of any sort. Some within this group also argued
that changing moral perceptions are.... Not sufficient reason to change
Rabbi Dorff wrote a minority opinion that was officially accepted
as such by the fact that it received the requisite 8 votes. This means
that it is an acceptable part of the official Conservative Responsa,
albeit a minor one. Basically, he states that our modern understanding
of the nature of sexuality and sexual orientation makes the category of
to'evah inoperable in this matter and should be halachicly dispensed
New scientific findings and, more importantly, the testimony of
homosexuals themselves provide us with ample evidence that those who are
clearly homosexual do not choose to be so. On the contrary, they
generally have intimations of their orientation early in their lives and
often do everything in their power to convince themselves otherwise so
as to avoid the stigma and prejudice which society inflicts on
Since legal demands or prohibitions only make logical sense if
the people being commanded can fulfil them, and since the Torah and
Jewish tradition clearly assumed the homosexual's ability to choose to
be heterosexual, .... (h)omosexuality should no longer be considered an
abomination, for that implies that the person could choose to do
otherwise. In addition, ... since all of the relevant professional
organizations and most mental health professionals assert that sexual
orientation is ingrained in a person from an early age and cannot be
changed, homosexuals do not pose a threat to heterosexual, family life.
...Recommending celibacy for homosexuals is... cruel, and not in accord
with classical Jewish views of the body and sexuality as God's gift
whose legitimate pleasures it is a sin to deny. . . The same Jewish
norms which apply to heterosexual relationships would govern homosexual
sex . . . This would lead some (Rabbis) to advocate performing
commitment ceremonies as a way of creating strong, monogamous, loving,
and Jewishly committed relationships among homosexuals.
This means that gay men and lesbians should be welcomed as full
participating members of the Jewish community and Conservative
synagogues. Nonetheless Tradition expresses a clear "preference" for
heterosexuality, especially when it comes to raising children (in which
two parents, one of each sex, is to be desired). The paper also called
for the formation of a movement-wide commission to explore sexuality in
general and to look into how our understanding of it might "impact" on
the matter of homosexuality.
In the sprit of this earlier responsum, 1995, Rabbi Dorff wrote a
report on behalf of the Commission on Human sexuality of the Rabbinical
Assembly, entitled, "This is my Beloved, This is My Friend:", a Rabbinic
Letter on Intimate Relations. The report reaffirmed Dorff's earlier
responsum, and made a strong plea for programs to eliminate homophobia
and heterosexism, in order that homosexuals be fully welcomed in
The first suggestion was for synagogue groups to meet with gay and
lesbian Jews, to explore how the congregation may be more welcoming.
"The goal would be to sensitize synagogue members to the fact that
Jewish gays, lesbians and their families are not an outside group but
are part of our own community and should be treated as such".
It was suggested that, in synagogues with programs for special
constituencies, such programs might be created for homosexual Jews.
Information regarding support groups, such as PFLAG (Parents and Friends
of Lesbians and Gays) could be disseminated by the synagogue, and the
synagogue might host such groups. At present, such a group does not
exist in London, but a well-motivated Synagogue group could help in
forming such a necessary organization.
A third suggestion was the inclusion of discussions of sexuality
and homosexuality as a part of adult and teen education programs.
Torati, Or Shalom's adult education group, has indeed included this,
both this year and in previous sessions. As Dorff says, "one consequence
of this is that Jewish homosexuals, like Jewish heterosexuals, should
not be seen narrowly as people who engage in certain kinds of sexual
practices, but rather as people and as Jews, with the full range of
interactions that people and Jews have with each other". The resource
book, Twice Blessed (1989) includes a comprehensive curriculum for teen
groups, and an outline for a workshop on homophobia.
Dorff's final suggestion is that Tikkun Olam (Social action)
programs be organized to advance the human rights of homosexuals.
The corollary of this outreach activity is that , as Dorff puts
it, "like all other Jews, gays and lesbians have the duties of Jewish
study and action, including affiliation and active participation in a
synagogue and in the Jewish community generally.
An anonymous student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, "David",
wrote as follows (1996):-
In a highly controversial and publicized decision, the
Conservative Movement's leadership stated that while gay and lesbian
Jews should be accepted in the community and synagogues, they should not
lead them, and as such, would not ordain openly gay rabbis-the Jewish
version of "don't-ask-don't-tell." This decision fell half-way between
total acceptance of the Reform Movement and the outright rejection of
the Orthodox Movement. It is unclear to me how an institution that has
so wholeheartedly embraced egalitarianism, biblical critique and liberal
social issues has evaded the issue of gay and lesbian leadership. I
cannot imagine how the roles I have assumed in the Jewish
world-educator, volunteer, gabbai, donor and dugmah-have been hindered
by my sexuality. Nor will I even try to imagine how my participation in
tikkun olam is somehow lessened in the eyes of Hashem because of how or
who I love.
This is an evolving situation, in my opinion. The Conservative
movement has endorsed the full participation of women in the Synagogue,
including the roles of rabbi and cantor, and our synagogue is attempting
to develop its own ways of dealing with women as congregational leaders.
Some might assert that the issues are different: there is no halachic
prohibition against leadership by women, and our Matriarchs and Judges
exemplify this leadership. We accept Synagogual leadership by people who
are not fully shomrei mitzvot. To deny leadership roles to committed
homosexual Jews would be hypocrisy, and would reinforce heterosexism and
Michelle Kwitkin, in a posting on December 30, 1996, to the
Internet listserv, "gayjews", summarized the position of a Conservative
As a Conservative Jew, I believe that halakha (=normative Jewish
law) IS binding. The Conservative Movement, however, understands the
traditional halakhic sources (Bible, Talmud, etc.) as products of
different historical ages-which are often very different from our own
age! Deciding what is halakhically permissible is not only a matter of
reading the texts, but also understanding the social/cultural contexts
in which they developed. Regarding the biblical prohibitions against
male homosexual behavior (and the Rabbinic prohibitions against
1) the classic halakhic positions were formulated when
idolatrous, incestuous, hedonistic, etc. homosexuality was known, but
long-term, monogamous same-sex relationships were not.
2) there was an assumption of free choice regarding homosexual
behavior; the fixed/unchangeable nature of sexual orientation has only
become widely understood fairly recently.
Thus, many Conservative Jews-myself included-would say that the
traditional prohibitions against homosexuality do NOT really address the
phenomenon of gay life as we understand it today. Gay/lesbian
relationships can-and should!--be recognized and sanctified Jewishly.
For me, there is no incompatibility between being gay and
leading a halakhic life...the former is not a violation (or temporary
suspension) of the latter. Understanding sexuality this way is, of
course, radically different from how the tradition has understood it for
centuries. However, my (Conservative) understanding of the evolving
nature of halakha allows for-and sometimes even demands!--changes within
halakha. (The status of women in Jewish ritual is not so different: even
though traditional sources forbid it, changed social reality has led the
Conservative Movement to rule that women may halakhically participate
equally in ritual life.)
1. This is certainly not the unanimous viewpoint within the
Conservative Movement. Many continue to see homosexual behavior as
unconditionally forbidden. However, I believe that more and more
Conservative Jews-laypeople as well as rabbis-are becoming more open to
the possibility of full acceptance of gay Jews. Again, a comparison with
egalitarianism (within Conservative) is instructive: limited acceptance
at first, which slowly diffuses throughout the movement, gaining more
adherents as people become more used to and comfortable with the idea
(although, of course, there will always be those who don't accept it).
2. This is how I understand gay issues, from a *Conservative*
perspective. What I have written above is predicated on an understanding
of halakha which is VERY different from an Orthodox understanding of
halakha. Naturally, somebody who believes that the Torah was revealed by
God to Moses at Sinai will strongly disagree with what I have written
above. We have different understandings of the history of halakha.
Neither view can be "proven" more correct or true than the other;
hopefully, we can agree to disagree.
3. What I have written above may also be problematic to those
who argue that gay sexuality should not be confined to the narrow model
of heterosexual norms (i.e., monogamous relationships). While I
certainly support the right of those who choose non-traditional ways of
expressing themselves sexually to do so, I an uncomfortable to
articulate this within a halakhic framework (just as I would consider
non-monogamous heterosexual relationships to fall outside the purview of
The most controversial of all issues from a Conservative
standpoint, is that of commitment ceremonies for homosexuals. Currently,
many Reform rabbis, and about 15 Conservative rabbis perform such
ceremonies for homosexual couples. Rabbi Stuart Kelman wrote a teshuvah
(responsum) on the issue (1995). As a preliminary, he explained,
paraphrasing Seymour Siegel, z"l that there are four categories under
which new laws or changes to older ones are necessary these are ethical
issues, as in the cases of the agunah or the mamzer; technological
advances, such as transplants; social change, in areas such as women's
rights and cases involving marriage to a kohen; and the needs of our
times, in the case of driving to the synagogue on Shabbat. The Committee
on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly is mandated to
achieve a balance between change and tradition. The rabbi of each
congregation is the final authority for the congregation, Rabbinical
Assembly resolutions notwithstanding.
In considering this issue, Rabbi Kelman makes twelve sets of
a.. All human beings are created in God's image (betzelem
elohim) and may enjoy what is commonly called human rights, and
b.. Jews and homosexuals share a commonality, a history of
persecution and suffering. Historically, Jews have always been faced
with ethical decisions. "It seems to me that the defining issue for our
generation is how we treat the "other", defined in any number of ways,
only one of which concerns gays and lesbians."
c.. God and humanity share a common moral framework. The moral
imperative to do justly , as Plaskow points out, applies equally,
regardless of whether homosexuals have any 'choice' in terms of
d.. Geographical context is a major determinant. It is to be
noted that Rabbi Kelman's Conservative congregation is in the Bay Area
of San Francisco, which houses the largest homosexual population group
in North America.
e.. When a synagogue calls itself egalitarian, that means that
rights and obligations apply to all.
f.. Forbiddens (issurim) are dealt with by Conservative Jews
in the context that we are not literal, Torah Jews. As Rabbi Kelman
points out, if we object to the consecration of homosexual relationships
because they are forbidden , we must be sure to "be very, very pure"
g.. The issue of choice is a moot one. Rabbi Kelman states,
"while I do not hold to the view that would equate homosexual and
heterosexual marriage, the matter of choice remains unclear." Science is
little help in this regard.
h.. Rabbi Kelman points out that "sexual ethics has to do with
how we treat the other person, not the gender of the other person." He
emphasizes that as a Rabbi, he is uncomfortable with delving into
people's sexual behaviors.
i.. There is a fear that a Congregational decision to sanctify
monogamous homosexual relationships may drive members away. So it is
with any and every change. Change is uncomfortable. People leave
congregations because they are too rigid, or they are too liberal
(either the people or the congregations).
j.. "We are figuring out just what it is God wants of us".
That is by no means clear. If we are Orthodox Jews, the Torah is God's
word. As Conservative Jews, we must look at "God's will for us today".
k.. It is in discussing language and perceptions that Rabbi
Kelman's teshuvah becomes somewhat unclear. Traditionally, marriage is
defined as a social institution whereby a man and a woman choose to be
husband and wife, according to religious and/or civil ceremonies. Jewish
law sets out marriage as two separate acts: Kiddushin (erusin) is an act
performed by a man and a woman which leads to a change in their personal
status, while nisuin brings about the legal consequences of this change.
Thus, Rabbi Kelman sees the term, "marriage" as being unsuited to a
homosexual relationship. He prefers the term, brit, covenant. "According
to Jewish tradition, 'the covenant (brit) is the foundation for
relationships. Its aim is to create mutually exclusive reciprocal
relationships based on choice and accountability..'....The traditional
Jewish wedding ceremony legally functions to join two individuals under
the rules of property, not to mark a covenant."
l.. In his final argument, Rabbi Kelman discusses the
importance of blessings, berachot. "It seems to me...that it is quite
appropriate for any rabbi to ask for the blessings of God on two
individuals who are joining together in a loyal, permanent, monogamous,
loving, committed Jewish relationship."
Consequently, Rabbi Kelman permits an aufruf (prenuptial ceremony)
on the shabbat preceding a commitment ceremony between two people of the
same sex. He allows joint aliyot for homosexual couples on the same
bases as for heterosexual couples; and he allows and performs commitment
ceremonies, which he renames b'ritot riyut (Covenants of love) for
In my opinion, if "marriage" is an unsuitable term for a
homosexual relationship, it is an unsuitable term for a heterosexual
relationship. If we reject the concept of marriage as an economic union
and a legalistic structure involving super- and subordination, then
Jewish marriage ceremonies must be restructured. The Reform movement
have done so. If, however, we wish to preserve the form of the
heterosexual marriage ceremony, while protecting the substance of
marriage as an equal partnership based on mutual respect and love, then
we should, in my opinion, allow homosexual couples to marry in the same
fashion as heterosexual couples.
The obligation to "be fruitful and multiply", is not always a
factor in heterosexual Jewish marriages. Elderly Jews, where the woman
is past child-bearing age, cannot always be seen in the light of Abraham
and Sarah. We cannot expect such miracles in our age. Yet Rabbis duly
officiate at the marriages of 80 year olds. Are fertility tests a
requirement of any rabbi, or any Conservative (or any other) synagogue?
The primary justification for marriage is that it satisfies the need for
companionship. Abraham exiled his fertile wife, and stayed with the
(presumably) infertile Sarah. Why? Because she was his companion, and he
If we wish to preserve Jewish family values, then we should value
Jewish families, whether they are homosexual or heterosexual. To quote
Rabbi Dorff (1994), "even those who continue to see (homosexuality) as
an abomination... would surely agree that if homosexuals are going to
engage in sex, they should strive to let as many Jewish values as
possible shape their relations. To do otherwise... makes Judaism
irrelevant to them too."
In preparing this combination research paper/resource document, I
would like to thank the many people who have contributed ideas and
material to this rather rambling document; in particular, Rabbis Larry
Lander and Stuart Kelman; Msgr. John Cody; Gabriel Elias; Jason Knisley;
Nettie Schwartz; Joel Grishaver; and above all, to my wife, Judy, our
children, Melanie, David and Laura, my parents, Eve and Syd Silver, and
my brother, Michael Shalev, who demonstrate in their lives, how to be
just, thinking, loving Jews. I dedicate my efforts to the 2,000 gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgendered young people whom I have attempted
to counsel and support over the past three years. They have taught me so
much, and given me great respect and honor. Most of the young people are
believers in one of the three Monotheistic religions: many of them are
Jewish: I hope that this small effort will assist in the ongoing fight
believing homosexual people are involved in, for inclusion in their
This paper is my responsibility: it does not in any formal way,
reflect the views of Or Shalom Congregation or its leadership, of the
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism or its constituent members, or
of any particular organization. Please acknowledge the use of this in
any republication. As a side note, I have, in writing this, tried to
avoid the uses of the terms, 'gay' or 'straight'. To be gay means also
to be happy: to be straight, means also to be narrow.
About the author
I am a retired teacher and high school counselor, married with 3
children. I have an honors B.A. from Victoria University of Wellington,
an M.A. from the University of Windsor, and a B.Ed. from the University
of Toronto, all in political science; and a Post-Baccalaureate
Certificate in Education, in counseling psychology, from the University
of Manitoba. My human rights involvement is life-long: I am a past
vice-president of the Saskatchewan Association on Human Rights, and
served a 6 month term as a human rights officer for the Saskatchewan
Human Rights Commission. My 16 years in municipal and provincial
government included 4 years as an educational planner, and 10 as a
pension supervisor. For the past 3 years, I have been volunteering as a
counselor on the internet, coordinating a program to work with
My Jewish involvement is also life-long. I have been an active
congregant in Orthodox synagogues in Wellington, New Zealand, Windsor
and Hamilton, Ontario, Regina, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, Manitoba; and
Conservative congregations in Winnipeg, and London, Ontario. You may
contact me at ***@sympatico.ca.
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26790 Arastradero Rd
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"Lawrence Glickman" <***@comcast.net> wrote in message news:***@4ax.com...
: On Thu, 24 Mar 2005 06:58:31 GMT, ren#***@anglic#n.org (The +Revd)
: >On Thu, 24 Mar 2005 08:43:53 +0200, "Riain Barton/øéòéï áøúåï"
: ><***@zion.org.il> wrote:
: >>Baruch HaShish!!!!!!!!
: >Why are you babbling in yiddish, you bent Irish fairy?
: >>You fucking filthy piece of dung!
: >You fucking filthy little shirtlifter!
: I don't know if Rainman is aware of this, but
: FUCKING MEN IN THE ASS WITH YOUR PENIS
: is an "Abomination" in the eyes of The Lord.
: G-d have mercy on this individual's soul.
: He commits heinous crimes of Satanic Proportions, and thinks G-d will
: not know about it. Rainman is a deranged _fool_. Condemned by his
: un-natural Satanic Perversions.
: And for historical context, it is for some reason SODOM & GAMORRAH
: were burned off the face of the earth by G-d, because ass-fucking is
: an unforgivable perversion in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
: Sodomite, Sodomy, Hellfire, Lot's Wife turned into a pillar of Salt
: for even =looking= in the direction of that wickedness.
: JUDGEMENT DAY WILL COME, RAINMAN, AND YOU HAVE CONDEMNED YOURSELF WITH
: YOUR WICKED ACTS.
: CALL NOT YOURSELF A JEW ANYMORE. YOU ARE A PERVERSION IN THE EYES OF
: ANYTHING HOLY.