Category Archives: Gay Pride March

Orthodoxy and Homophobia

Steven I. Weiss has done us all a service by putting Agudath Israel’s press release on the Conservative movement’s gay rabbi debate up on the web:

AGUDATH ISRAEL LAMENTS
CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT DECISION

“An Abandonment of All Pretense of Fealty to Judaism”

NEW YORK – Noting with sorrow the Conservative movement’s “Committee on Jewish Law and Standards”’ shameless endorsement of a position permitting “commitment ceremonies” between people of the same gender and the ordination as Conservative rabbis of people living openly homosexual lives, a spokesman for Agudath Israel of America called the decision “an abandonment of all pretense of fealty to Judaism.”

Rabbi Avi Shafran, Agudath Israel’s director of public affairs, stated that “this ruling doesn’t conserve the Jewish tradition, it defies it.”

“The entire corpus of halacha, or Jewish religious law,” he said, “makes abundantly clear that homosexual behavior is sinful. That a movement claiming to uphold the Jewish religious tradition can arrogate to stand halachic Judaism on its head is tragic. It will no doubt cheer those who place contemporary mores above the Jewish mandate, but in the end, it seals the fate of a movement long mired in muddle and malaise.”

“While every Jew is precious in the eyes of Heaven,” Rabbi Shafran continued, “and while some of us may face more difficult challenges than others as we strive to live by the Torah’s prescriptions, that striving is the very essence of what it means to be a Jew committed to Judaism.”

Now the facts. 1. The only homosexual behavior called sinful (actually, an "abomination") by the Torah is male-male anal intercourse. 2. Homosexuals are not called sinful or abominations. 3. Oral sex is not forbidden by the Torah. Neither is masturbatory sex. Indeed, poskim allow married heterosexual couples to do both, without worry about "spilling seed." The Conservative Movement’s new position is based on these points, and is in no way "an abandonment of all pretense of fealty to Judaism."

Agudath Israel – whose leading sages either covered for or ignored a serial pedophile who perpetrated rabbi-on-boy sexual abuse for almost 40 years – has no business commenting on the actions of the Conservative Movement, especially when Shafran and Agudah fell silent when asked to comment on the rabbi-on-boy sex abuse.

But this is not only about Agudath Israel and its snake-oiled spokesman. In truth, what we have here is homophobia dressed in the guise of Judaism. From the RCA’s condemnation to UTJ’s, one thing stands out – a lack of compassion and concern for those born gay who seek, nonetheless, to lead a committed Jewish life.

This lack  of compassion – as so clearly demonstrated during the vitriolic opposition to Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade – again shows Orthodoxy in all its forms to be far more concerned about laws dealing with man’s relationship to God, like the ban on male-male anal intercourse, than it is about the laws of conduct between people. This is why convicted haredi criminals lead haredi communities and are given seats of honor at communal functions, while openly gay men who seek to live the most honest and committed Orthodox life they can are ridiculed and often exiled from their communities.

What do you think God hates more? A convicted swindler with a 30 year record of fraud leading a haredi rabbinic organization and writing a weekly column in an Orthodox newspaper or two openly gay men trying desperately to carve out a life for themselves within Orthodoxy? If you have trouble answering this question you have failed Judaism 101.

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Filed under Gay Pride March, Haredim, Jewish Leadership, Modern Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy and Homophobia

Steven I. Weiss has done us all a service by putting Agudath Israel’s press release on the Conservative movement’s gay rabbi debate up on the web:

AGUDATH ISRAEL LAMENTS
CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT DECISION

“An Abandonment of All Pretense of Fealty to Judaism”

NEW YORK – Noting with sorrow the Conservative movement’s “Committee on Jewish Law and Standards”’ shameless endorsement of a position permitting “commitment ceremonies” between people of the same gender and the ordination as Conservative rabbis of people living openly homosexual lives, a spokesman for Agudath Israel of America called the decision “an abandonment of all pretense of fealty to Judaism.”

Rabbi Avi Shafran, Agudath Israel’s director of public affairs, stated that “this ruling doesn’t conserve the Jewish tradition, it defies it.”

“The entire corpus of halacha, or Jewish religious law,” he said, “makes abundantly clear that homosexual behavior is sinful. That a movement claiming to uphold the Jewish religious tradition can arrogate to stand halachic Judaism on its head is tragic. It will no doubt cheer those who place contemporary mores above the Jewish mandate, but in the end, it seals the fate of a movement long mired in muddle and malaise.”

“While every Jew is precious in the eyes of Heaven,” Rabbi Shafran continued, “and while some of us may face more difficult challenges than others as we strive to live by the Torah’s prescriptions, that striving is the very essence of what it means to be a Jew committed to Judaism.”

Now the facts. 1. The only homosexual behavior called sinful (actually, an "abomination") by the Torah is male-male anal intercourse. 2. Homosexuals are not called sinful or abominations. 3. Oral sex is not forbidden by the Torah. Neither is masturbatory sex. Indeed, poskim allow married heterosexual couples to do both, without worry about "spilling seed." The Conservative Movement’s new position is based on these points, and is in no way "an abandonment of all pretense of fealty to Judaism."

Agudath Israel – whose leading sages either covered for or ignored a serial pedophile who perpetrated rabbi-on-boy sexual abuse for almost 40 years – has no business commenting on the actions of the Conservative Movement, especially when Shafran and Agudah fell silent when asked to comment on the rabbi-on-boy sex abuse.

But this is not only about Agudath Israel and its snake-oiled spokesman. In truth, what we have here is homophobia dressed in the guise of Judaism. From the RCA’s condemnation to UTJ’s, one thing stands out – a lack of compassion and concern for those born gay who seek, nonetheless, to lead a committed Jewish life.

This lack  of compassion – as so clearly demonstrated during the vitriolic opposition to Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade – again shows Orthodoxy in all its forms to be far more concerned about laws dealing with man’s relationship to God, like the ban on male-male anal intercourse, than it is about the laws of conduct between people. This is why convicted haredi criminals lead haredi communities and are given seats of honor at communal functions, while openly gay men who seek to live the most honest and committed Orthodox life they can are ridiculed and often exiled from their communities.

What do you think God hates more? A convicted swindler with a 30 year record of fraud leading a haredi rabbinic organization and writing a weekly column in an Orthodox newspaper or two openly gay men trying desperately to carve out a life for themselves within Orthodoxy? If you have trouble answering this question you have failed Judaism 101.

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Filed under Gay Pride March, Haredim, Jewish Leadership, Modern Orthodoxy

The Fish Stinks From Its Head

Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblum writes a scathing column condemning haredi violence surrounding Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade. The problem? First, his complaints are all tactical:

…An extreme response, for instance, almost inevitably ensures that one’s message will be lost and the focus of public attention shift to the messenger and the impropriety of his actions. Prior to the onset of the rioting, many secular Jews viewed this particular march in this particular place as a deliberate affront to the sensibilities of Jerusalem’s residents.

But as soon as the garbage cans started going up in flames, all public discussion switched from the propriety of the parade to that of the response, and the chareidi community found itself on public trial. Many of the relevant governmental bodies opposed the parade for their own reasons, but they could not appear to be intimidated by threats of violence.

A massive demonstration, such as that against the Supreme Court’s trampling on all religious values, would have made clear that the kedushah of Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael are not matters of indifference to the Torah community. And it would have enjoyed a great deal of public sympathy. But that sympathy was wantonly squandered.…

All the gedolei Yisrael about whom I have written thought constantly about the image of Torah and Torah Jews in the world. It is hard to imagine that last week’s rioters gave a moment’s thought to such concerns. I’m old enough to remember the urban riots that swept across America in the early ’60s. At the time, the most frequently asked question was: What kind of people burn down their own neighborhoods? Now, that question is being asked about those garbed as Torah Jews.…

In other words, Rosenblum decries tactics that are counterproductive to haredism’s larger goals. He does not endorse or encourage the democratic process or civil discourse. And Rosenblum also plays the kiruv card:

…The Torah offers what secular Israel so desperately needs. Last week’s events, however, make it less likely that secular Jews will seek the answers to their admitted spiritual malaise from us and not in some ashram in India. And that is a tragedy for all of us.

In other words, it will hurt the efforts to expand the haredi population through recruitment, or kiruv. because it presents a bad public image. But that public image is absolutely representative of actual haredi beliefs and practices. Rosenblum wants to mask these in order to entrap innocent, naive people. He continues:

And for the Torah community, it is no less a tragedy that concepts like Kiddush Hashem and Klal Yisrael never entered the minds of last week’s rioters. They are not even on their radar screen.

For the rest of us, it is time to ask: Why not?

The answer to that question is simple. Rioters were egged on by rabbis, leaders of the haredi world, from Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch of Edah Haredit to Rosenblum’s own leader, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. What you saw on the streets was the souls of those rabbis stripped bare for all to see.

There is an old Yiddish proverb, The fish stinks from its head. That, Rabbi Rosenblum, is the answer to your question.

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Filed under Crime, Gay Pride March, Haredim

How Haredim Learn About Sex

Rabbi Shmuel Poppenheim of Edah Haredit, oft quoted in Gil Zohar’s wonderful piece on haredi violence aimed at stopping Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade, notes:

"Of course we don’t talk about the thing itself. Nobody will tell his son exactly what it is. We talk about a parade of immorality, abomination. Nobody says that it’s people walking naked in these parades or talks about what exactly they do. There are people, even 50 year-olds, who are under arrest after demonstrating, and don’t understand exactly what it is. Children do ask, but we think that this world is full of immorality in any case. Our children will find out about these concepts one way or another, so it’s better for them to find out about it through condemnation and protest, through a position of extremism, through a war against it – not through lust."

Or perhaps they will find out about truly abnormal sexual behavior the way most haredi children do – in a mikva or a yeshiva dormitory.

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Filed under Gay Pride March, Haredim, Mikva Abuse

More On Gay Pride Violence

In the most comprehensive piece yet on the haredi violence surrounding the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade, Gil Zohar reports:

…SOME OF the zealots who disobey Badatz are American yeshiva students looking for some excitement to lighten the tedium of constant Torah study. Avraham Erezel is a 20-year-old from Brooklyn who studies at the prestigious Mir Yeshiva. Acting in his opinion on the orders of Rabbi Elyashiv, almost every night in the week preceding the gay pride rally he left the Lithuanian seminary’s study hall with hundreds of other students to clash with police.

"Friends in New York told me that Israel is a crazy place, but I didn’t imagine how crazy," says Erezel, who scorns the police here. "In New York they would have let us have it long ago. We especially are not afraid of the police. As soon as they see an American passport, they release you on the spot. Half the people here are Americans. We’re all Jews and we all have a common goal: to stop the parade and to have some fun."
Israel Rosenbaum of Brooklyn, now studying at the Brisk Yeshiva, explained, "Not everybody has a rabbi whom they follow. They see action and they come running."

Ezra Rubinowitz, 21, of Los Angeles, was equally keen not to miss the action in the streets of Mea She’arim. "The rabbis are in favor of it," he explained. "They think it will stop the parade. They tell themselves, ‘It’s not so bad for the young people to enjoy themselves a little, the main thing is that the parade is stopped.’"

Noting that the parade had been twice postponed, initially because of the August 2005 unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif, and then again due to this summer’s war in Lebanon, New Yorker Yisrael Mendel of the Mir Yeshiva said: "God sent a message. Obviously He doesn’t want it."

Whether divinely inspired or not, once lit, the bonfires proved difficult to extinguish.…

And who heads the Mir Yeshiva? Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, an American from Chicago. Rabbi Finkel’s mother grew up in Minnesota across the alley from my father’s family. I went to preschool, Hebrew school, and junior and senior high school with her nephew, Rabbi Finkel’s first cousin. As an adult, that nephew’s father, Rabbi Finkel’s uncle, would become my friend. And Rabbi Finkel’s brother, Rabbi Gedalya Finkel, now a rosh kollel, taught me in yeshiva.

But there is only one viable solution to haredi violence and anti-democratic behavior: Starve the beast. Please add Mir to the list of haredi institutions you refuse to donate to, unless and until it becomes clear that Rabbi Finkel opposed this violence and his students’ participation in it.

Continue reading

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Filed under Crime, Gay Pride March, Haredim, Israel

Haredim, Block Voting and Homosexual Marriage

A Republican US Congesswoman fights against gay marriage, in large part because her constituency is made up in a significant part by a contingent of hasidic Jews who stronly oppose gay marriage. A wealthy gay constituent tries to get her to change her mind, but she won’t, fearing the wrath of the hasidim, who vote in blocks. So the gay man gives $500,000 to her Democrat opponent through a PAC that relentlessly advertises against her and smears her. The Democrat wins the election. The hasidim? At last minute, they switch sides and vote in a block for the Democrat, because their rebbe believes the group will, by putting the Democrat in office, gain greater pull in a newly-changing Washington.

The hasidim? New Square, whose Rebbe stands accused of covering for an aide who allegedly has raped young boys. The Satmar of Kiryas Yoel.

[Hat Tip: The One Who Emailed Me And Whose email I subsequently misplaced, causing me to Google for this story.]

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Filed under Gay Pride March, Haredim

Haredim, Homosexuality and Child Abuse

One of the most bizarre canards hurled at gays is child molestation. Otherwise educated people confuse pedophilia with homosexuality. This confusion is extremely common in the haredi world, which hurls invective at gays, calls them "child abusers," and then coddles and covers for the real child abusers in their midst. This is exactly what happened in the Rabbi Kolko affair. Same for Rabbi Bryks, as well.

Here is a recent example of this from Jacob Stein, AKA Jewish Philosopher:

A far greater percentage of homosexuals are pedophiles than are heterosexuals; a  study shows 1/3 of pedophile victims are males while only about 5% of the population is homosexual. For more details click here.

The links are to two weak and controversial studies. Here’s what the second says, in part:

Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse presents a number of controversial findings. The first is that a significant percentage of child sexual abuse victims are boys. The second finding of Dailey’s report contradicts the "inaccurate but widely accepted claims of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey" that homosexuals comprise at least 10 per cent of the population. Based upon a study of three large data sets, the General Social Survey, the National Health and Social Life Survey, and the U.S. Census, "a recent study in demography estimates the number of exclusive male homosexuals in the general population at 2.5 per cent, and the number of exclusive lesbians at 1.4 per cent," writes Dailey.

Note the word emphasized in this phrase: "exclusive male homosexuals." Unlike the claims made for this study, what police will tell you is that many pedophiles are married, but they act out against male children. Police will also tell you most of these men were themselves abused as children, most often by a married man, including their fathers, or by a sibling.

So, the question remains – are  pedophiles disproportionately exclusively gay? Based on the evidence presented, I cannot answer this question. But the question should be asked with the following questions, hand in hand: How many pedophiles were abused as children? Are gay abusers more likely to have been abused as children than straight abusers? Are exclusively gay men more likely to have been abused than exclusively straight men or bisexuals?

I do not believe abuse causes homosexuality, but abuse does cause more abuse, forming a chain that often lasts generations, perhaps centuries. If there are more "exclusively gay" abusers than exclusively straight or bisexual abusers, I suspect there will also be a higher level of abuse found among all men – abusers or not – who are exclusively gay.

In other words, homosexuality does not cause child sexual abuse; child sexual abuse causes child sexual abuse. That is a lesson haredim, including the Jacob Stein, need to learn.

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Filed under Crime, Gay Pride March, Haredim, Mikva Abuse