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Interview with an orthodox lesbian

gay frumFor those of you living under a rock, there was a brutal attack on a Gay community center in Tel Aviv this weekend in which 2 people were killed and 11 wounded, as expected the comments on Vos Iz Neias are basically saying that these people deserved it and they better wake up – disgusting indeed. I understand some of the views but the lack of respect for life and fellow Jews was unbelievable.

I met Talya Lev at the ROI Summit I attended last month, and upon finding out that she was an orthodox Lesbian who worked for Bat Kol, an Israeli organization that promotes and sponsors education and awareness on the subject – I asked her if she would do an interview, to which she readily agreed. Based on the ongoing arguement about Gays in the orthodox community going on elesewhere on this blog it could get interesting.

Thanks for agreeing to this interview, can you just give me a little back round information as to where you grew up, where you live now, your age, schooling – all that jazz.

Iím an army brat, which means I grew up all over the US and Germany. It was an adventure; the longest I ever lived in one place was three years. When I turned 18, I made Aliyah and went to bar ilan university, served for a while in the IDF, then started a web design business. Today, Iím 26 and live in maaleh adumim, right outside of jlem..

Youíre an attractive and feminine lesbian, whatís up with that, I thought lesbians where all the ugly girls who couldnít get any from guys?

ūüôā Thanks for the compliment. Yeah, thereís definitely a stereotype about lesbians, but it has nothing to do with Ďgirls who canít get any from guysí. Just take a look at Portia de Rossi! I think that there are many women who simply feel more masculine and others who feel more feminine. Perhaps the more feminine looking ones are harder to recognize outwardly as ďLesbians,Ē and therefore the more masculine looking women who aren’t conforming to typical feminine norms of beauty are considered Ďunattractiveí to the heterosexual world.

Did you grow up orthodox? If not how and when did you become observant?

I didnít grow up orthodox, but my home was very spiritual and committed to a Jewish way of life. When I was at Bar Ilan University, I became exposed to the religious world and was moved by the morality and values of the people who were my friends. It just made sense to me in a very deep and intrinsic way, so I decided to become religious. The entire process was very powerful which it is for most baaleh tshuva, and I am very happy that the process will and should continue for the rest of my life.

At what age did you realize you were attracted to the same sex?

I think I only began to realize same-sex attraction around the age of 17, but I ignored it since I had no idea there was such a thing as normal lesbian relationships. I knew nothing about the gay community and grew up in a world where homosexuality was extremely taboo, Ďweirdí, and disgusting. I figured that even though I found certain women attractive, there was no reason to put energy into pursuing it. Gay was such a negative term.

How did you come to realize this?

There was a girl in one of my classes who I found attractive. Something in the way she interacted with me was a little unnerving, and I couldnít help but be conscious of my attraction. Nothing every happened until many years later, but it definitely opened my eyes to the fact that I had a powerful attraction to a woman.

Did you go through a denial stage or did you just admit it to yourself?

I admitted it to myself, but again, I would never pursue it just based on what I said before. I couldnít even translate attraction to certain women into thinking about an entire lifestyle, so I continued to date men as I had done my whole life. Since men didn’t repulse me and I enjoyed their companionship (and this is true for many lesbians Ė they are not disgusted by men, just indifferent), I just decided to ignore my attraction to women. I never thought for even a second that I was a lesbian; again, I couldnít associate my own attraction with that term. It took a very long time for that to change because of my own prejudices.

When did you come out of the closet?

It took finding a woman who I love dearly and view as my partner to bring me to the awareness that I am a lesbian. After we were living together for a year and a half, I realized that I couldnít keep hiding our relationship from my friends, family, and the world. Living such a closeted way of life was so unhealthy and unnatural. Although I was nervous of what people would think because of living in an orthodox community in Jerusalem, I knew that I would have to begin telling people so that I could live normally again. I decided that if my friends chose to judge me negatively based on being in love with a woman, then they were not really my friends. Baruch Hashem, they were bigger than that.

How did your friends and family react? Did anyone refuse to talk to you again?

I was so nervous, and I still am every time I have to tell someone, but everyone has been so supportive and even happy for me. I feel that itís sad that this surprises me, but hopefully someday, people wonít have to be afraid of hatred and prejudice just because they’ve found loving and fulfilling relationships with someone of the same sex.

A lot of folks believe that if you are attracted to the same sex there must be something wrong with you, for example abusive childhood, traumatic experiences, etcÖWhat do you think of these ideas?

When there is so much prejudice around the topic, it is so much easier to fall prey to misinformation rather that to actually take the time to read up on it. I myself am no exception (I used to think that Ďgay peopleí were Ďweirdí Ďmessed upí and Ďgrossí). I do know that even a brief read on Wikipedia would be enough to expel many of the misconceptions. To put it succinctly, ďsexual orientation probably is not determined by any one factor but by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences.” To Ďblameí homosexuality on negative experiences is a way of rationalizing Ďhomosexual behavior.í Viewing same sex attraction as Ďbehavior,í rather than being as natural and integral as any heterosexual individualís experience of attraction for the opposite sex, leads to the horrible idea that homosexuality can be Ďcuredí or changed.

Have you ever heard of Jonah? (orthodox organization that provides therapy to reverse your same sex attraction) What do you think of this?

I think itís so terrible. Itís hard for me to even talk about it… it hurts so much to think that people would encourage what I experience as natural and healthy to be changed rather than examining where their own prejudices come from. There is an Israeli short film, ďVeíahavtaĒ (And thou shalt love), which shows just how unbearably painful it is to believe that sexual orientation should attempt to be changed at all costs. This is so sad. The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Association of Social Workers state: ďSexual orientation has proved to be generally impervious to interventions intended to change it, which are sometimes referred to as ďreparative therapy.Ē No scientifically adequate research has shown that such interventions are effective or safe. Moreover, because homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality, national mental health organizations do not encourage individuals to try to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Therefore, all major national mental health organizations have adopted policy statements cautioning the profession and the public about treatments that purport to change sexual orientation. The statement of the American Psychiatric Association cautions that ď[t]he potential risks of Ďreparative therapyí are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior.Ē

But so many of us are trapped, refusing to look further than our prejudices so that a child who feels himself or herself attracted to someone of the same sex must suffer guilt and fear, perhaps for the rest of their lives, which so often leads to depression and even suicide. If there was only a move towards tolerance, a real exploration of the sources from a place of love, perhaps those who feel they must reject religion, or attempt to change who they are, will find they can live with both spiritual and emotional integrity without fear.

The torah doesnít say anything with regards to Lesbians, but with regards to Gays its pretty harsh, its quite hard to tell someone not to have sex or fall in love – two basic human needs – but if you are a torah observant Jew how can you reconcile this?

You know, Iím not a posek. Iím not the one to make the decisions for everyone on how to reconcile Torah with homosexuality. All I can do is tell you what I feel intuitively regarding the issue, and hope those who do have the learning and the authority will allow themselves to feel empathy for all their fellow yiddin who are suffering, depressed, and who may even be on the verge of suicide because they canít live with the terrible feeling of guilt and shame that comes from struggling to find a way to be true to Judaism while being aware of their very real, G-d given identities.

Even if you find a way to reconcile this, reinterpretation of the torah risky business and many right wing folks will never listen to you anyway.

Because perhaps people assume that my goal is to ďreinterpretĒ the Torah. Thatís not my goal at all. I am a religious Jew who loves Hashem and strives every day to live a fulfilling life in Eretz Yisrael engaging in Torah, Mitzvot and constant tshuva. If anything ever changes in Judaism, itís because the Rabbis come to certain understandings regarding what mankind is really capable of upholding in order for us to continue living Torah observant lives. Let me give you an example Ė the issue with agunot. Will this ever change? Should it change? What are the risks involved if it does change? Will it mean that we are no longer committed to Torah and Mitzvot, or that we have free reign to go about changing everything we want? It is risky business. Time will tell.

Seems like being orthodox and openly gay is like flaunting your sins?

I think that being in the closet pushes people towards depression, repressed, and erratic behavior due to how unhealthy it is. To be openly gay for someone who is homosexual is actually a return to normalcy and a greater capacity for leading a healthy life.

I understand you run some sort of organization, what is it and what does it aim to do?

I belong to an organization called Bat Kol, which fosters both a supportive community and a framework of mutual
trust for religious lesbians and their family members. Bat Kol also aspires to promote and sponsor education for tolerance and the acceptance of difference within the religious community and society at large. In collaboration with a diverse group of Orthodox Rabbis, Professors, community members and friends, we are determined to pave a way for religious lesbians and their family members to live lives of equality, openness, and active participation in all areas of religious society both in Israel and the Diaspora.

Here are some links

www.bat-kol.org

www.zeek.net/jay_0409.shtml

www.tirtzah.wordpress.com

These questions will take me forever to answer… kinda out of time, it’s taken me so long to answer the previous questions ūüôā its a delicate topic..

What do you think of the Gay Pride celebration in Jerusalem? Many people say its like eating pork in a shul, you can do what you want just donít flaunt it in a holy city?

Why is gay pride important?

Do you have a Rabbi/Rebetzin that you consult with?

What do think of many yeshiva guys fantasies of seminary girls gone wild?

So I guess there is no prohibition of pre-marital sex or shomer negiah for lesbians? Sounds kind of funÖ

Do lesbian couples keep the laws of nidah?

Can you explain to my audience what Gaydar is and how you can pick a lesbian out of a crowd?

{ 118 comments… add one }
  • A23 August 3, 2009, 9:17 AM

    I see she didn’t answer the funny questions… oh, well.

  • Phil August 3, 2009, 9:36 AM

    She needs more of a sense of humour, though her situation doesn’t sound too funny. You should have asked only the funny questions.

    Seriously, I do live under a rock as I don’t watch the news too often. I happened to catch a glimpse of something about a shooting on the French news when I was switching channels.

    As usual, it’s blamed on the intolerant rabbis. What a crock of sh*t!

  • Heshy Fried August 3, 2009, 9:38 AM

    A23 – I was kind of bummed, but she was traveling around US and didn’t have much time.

  • Abe the Gun Guy August 3, 2009, 9:43 AM

    Yeah.. I wanted the fun questions answered… Oh well!

    There is a difference between male and female homosexuality in Halachah. Women have no obligation to “be fruitful and multiply” and there are a few situations where at least female bi-sexuality is permitted in a polygamous relationship…. Which means that even D’Rabbanim it is not the act that “might” be frowned upon, but the mentality that could occur from it.

    The Torah deals with male homosexuality (not going into potential permissible positions) and leave female homosexuality out of question. The Rabbanim spoke out against lesbianism, use their authority to ban it, but since it was created by them, there are ways to reverse it (see Ramabam, Ramah).

    Of course, people have preconceived ideas and because it has become such a large political and social issue, no logical discussion can occur from either side.

  • CHAVI August 3, 2009, 9:49 AM

    HESHY: After meeting you, she’s still a lesbian?

  • Phil August 3, 2009, 10:17 AM

    Abe,

    Let’s not accuse the Rambam, he specifically outlaws it. No Beis din has authority to override another unless they are greater in stature. Being that the Sanhedrin were the ones to put this law in effect, I don’t think you’ll find a more qualified Beis din to revoke the law.

    I really don’t see why orthodox gays and lesbians think that they are so unqiue and special that we need to re-write the shulchan aruch for them so they won’t feel guilty about their deeds.

    What about adulterers or incestuous people? What about those who “can’t” keep Shabbat or fast on Yom Kippur?

    Are we to expect our rabbis to join the reform movement to cater to every pervert’s whim and tell thim it’s OK?

    Maybe we should put Oprah and Dr. Phil in charge of halacha.

    Hesh, I’m with Chavi on this one. You should have gone on “mesiras nefesh” and switched her back to our team ūüėČ

  • mottel August 3, 2009, 10:24 AM

    Hesh, while there is no clear Biblical verse forbidding Lesbianism, it is none the less clearly assur in (at the very least) Rabbinic law! We all have the things we struggle with, and it is not my place to judge who does what. It is one thing for a person to live their life as they desire, we all have the free choice to make our own decisions. That being said, to try to legitimize something that is prohibited in any way (especially in matters so basic as sexual mores) is not only wrong – but dangerous to the very foundation of Judaism.
    My heart goes out to those that struggle . . .

  • Jonathan August 3, 2009, 10:33 AM

    I find it interesting how she talks down on classifying homosexuality as a “behavior” that can also be influenced by environmental factors and then in another question quotes the APA to back up some of her answers, when the APA clearly states themselves:

    “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” http://www.apa.org/topics/sorientation.html

    Just reading through that APA link it is obvious that they consider homosexuality more than just a natural genetic inborn thing.

    At the same time, there is no doubt that people do NOT choose to live homosexually. I think such statements are outrageous.

    However, I think she is also being a bit close-minded completely disregarding the organization JONAH. I happen to know someone who is pretty involved in the organization and they are very open to allowing the individual choose the way they want to live their lives. If they want to live homosexually, JONAH respects that. If they want to try to change, then JONAH will provide proper resources to help them do so.

    And I have seen first hand from this person significant change not only with his same-sex attractions, but also just in his overall happiness in life. While my example is merely anecdotal, the idea that JONAH just brings people to further depression and suicide has no factual bearings, and I highly question whether she can cite examples of people who did involve themselves with JONAH and ended up killing themselves. And while she attempts to find examples, I wonder whether she will regard the deep passion some homosexual Jews have in following all the posukim in the Torah and how being convinced to live the homosexual life may only make living much harder for such an individual.

    All I’m trying to point out is that this issue is not as black and white as she is making it seem. There is much to be said on the idea of changing from homosexuality which is ignored right off the bat. I almost wish Heshy would consider finding people on that side to interview for his blog too.

    I can very much respect the life this Rabbi has chosen to lead, while disagreeing with it. I hope she can say the same thing for those who choose to find ways out of their homosexuality.

  • Abe the Gun Guy August 3, 2009, 10:40 AM

    Phil –

    I was not saying that the Rambam permits homosexuality, merely that he provides a way for halachah D’Rabbanim to be changed (even if instituted by the Sanhedrin)… which will probably never happen nowadays, although it did happen (rather infrequently) during the times of the 2nd Beis Hamikdash.

    I do agree with you that homosexuality should not be a rallying point. We don’t have Shuls dedicated to murderers, thieves or those involved with BDSM…. why should we have Shuls dedicated to homosexuality?

    Oh, and I do have a close friend who is Gay and Orthodox (Hesh knows him)… I have not endorsed his lifestyle, merely accepted that he has a “Nisayon” and I do not ask whether or not he is winning that fight, it is truly none of my business.

  • Avi August 3, 2009, 10:58 AM

    Funny how she avoided answering about what the torah says about it,

  • Adena August 3, 2009, 11:10 AM

    great interview! thank you!

  • Bsamim Smoker August 3, 2009, 11:15 AM

    C’mon Hesh with your wit and charm you should have had her going the other way in no time flat.Just another blown oppertunity.You had her glowing with”Youíre an attractive and feminine lesbian” you could have closed the deal right then and there.But no, you decided to go all “professional” and continue the interview(just cause you needed some stupid blog material)that was precisly the time you should have closed your mouth and put you hands to work.Women can never resist a good message.Never complain you never get laid, you blew it big time!!!

  • Phil August 3, 2009, 11:22 AM

    Hesh,

    For your next s*xual topic, I think you should interview frum people with weird fetishes such as sh*t eaters, and the ensuing halachic ramifications injected with your special brand of satire.

    Good luck finding the weirdos, I’m sure they’re out there, maybe Shaindy or the tefillindate guys might be able to help you out.

  • Schwartzie August 3, 2009, 11:24 AM

    The inability to admit that there are some things in the Torah that should be adapted to the modern world is fanatical behavior.

    Maybe we should seek out and eradicate Amalek down the the last goldfish? Or, more practically, maybe we should torch the Bahai garden? Maybe I’ll go out and buy me an 11 year old girl to marry. It’s in the halacha.

    We ought to be able to find a way to accommodate this significant group of people and make them feel welcome as Jews. Iranians hang homosexuals. We needn’t look like the backwards Islamic theocracies that we constantly condemn.

  • Phil August 3, 2009, 11:40 AM

    Schwartzie,

    How about chicken f*ckers, adulterers or child molesters? Would you like to be the rabbi of the NJSD (new Jewish s*xual deviants) congregation?

    Maybe you can wear a mask and black cape like Zorro and pass yourself off as the fetish Rabbi, then have the Jewish pervert web sites like the frumporn guys sponsor your building.

  • ck August 3, 2009, 11:42 AM

    Kol Hakavod to Talya for having the courage to open herself up in a forum like this. Though I also commend y’all for showing some restraint. I’d love to see Heshy interview a life long homosexual who has managed to change his sexual orientation. I know that you could put me on a planet full of gay men, Brad Pitt clones even, and that there’s nothing you’d be able to do to make me want to get with them. Nothing. Maybe I’d get pedicures more often, but that’s it.

    That being said, I’d like to see more organizations like Jonah spring up! Let’s see. We could have Tone-ah to help those amongst us who have an irresistible longing for lashon harah. Or we could have Dinah-deh-Malchutei-Din-ah for those of us amongst us who insist on creating a hillul hashem by committing “civil” crimes like fraud, money laundering, smuggling, hiring and mistreating illegal aliens, trafficking illegally in human body parts and openly selling pirated videos all over town while wearing kippot and tzitzit. Or wait, what about Agun-ah for Rabbis who don’t have the cojones to do the right thing and feel that misconceived notions of Shlom Bayit are more important than the obligation of Pru u’rvu. Speaking of cojones, what about an organization called Chumr-ah for Rabbis who confuse adding stringencies on top of stringencies with, you know, halachic prowess. Also we ought to create dipshit-ah where we try to help those Neturei Karta idiots who insist on wearing Palestinian flags and supporting Hamas and Ahmadinejad. Finally, we ought to create Homophobi-ah where we teach ignorant yiddles about homosexuality. Like how even by the strictest standard, man-on-man sex is as bad as… eating shrimp, or that those perverts who molest children are overwhelmingly heterosexuals (and how when said perverts are Rabbis, as a community we tend to protect THEM and not the children) and how nowhere in Judaism is one entitled to take the law into his own hands and gun down people for being gay – which is not in and of itself a sin etc. etc.

    We have a long way to go before we’re ready for mashiach. We have a lot of things we need to work on both individually and as a community ie ahavat chinam, derech eretz, ve’ahavta lereacha kamocha etc. Obsessing over gays is about the least important thing I can think of. Thanks for bearing with me.

  • Abe the Gun Guy August 3, 2009, 11:46 AM

    Schwartzie – Halachah does not “adapt”. The reason we do not wipe out Amalek nowadays is two fold. First, we do not know who they are anymore and secondly, you need a Sanhedrin… it is a Milchemet Mitzvah.

    I am not sure the Bahai Garden is worshiped as an “Asherah”…. but since Israel is not being run according to Halachah, there is no authority to destroy it anyways. And although Halachah permits marrying an 11 year old girl, it does not require it, no more than it requires multiple wives. Merely that it is not forbidden but laws such as “Dina D’Malchusah Dina” (The Law of the Land is the Law…. so long as it doesn’t require violation of Halachah) still apply.

    No one has said homosexuals are not welcome… just that Aveirahs are just that and no amount of passion or ideology can change the rules =)

    As one of the great Rabbis of our time recently said (I believe it was R. Mattisyahu Solomon):
    If we had the power and authority, Torah would make the Taliban look moderate.” We condemn Islamic Theocracies because they do not recognize fact, when we could get along with them quite well if we could both forget about politics…

  • Phil August 3, 2009, 11:51 AM

    CK,

    What makes you think to gunner was a rabbi or chareidi person?

  • Fruitfly August 3, 2009, 11:52 AM

    Jonathan, I had a friend who struggled to get rid of his homosexuality for YEARS including trying marriage, children, and JONAH. He killed himself 3 years ago on Yom Kippur. ūüôĀ I have other friends who sincerely wanted to change, went through JONAH and also became severely depressed. I’m not saying JONAH is bad, it’s true the dude says if you want to be gay, “Gay Gezundaheit!” … the trouble is that they claim to be so useful and helpful while honestly their stats aren’t that great. (I BEGGED them to introduce me to an Orthodox former (preferably butch) lesbian so she could help me and they had none to offer me) And then there are parents (like mine) who believe the stats that JONAH touts and then harrass, cut off, sit shiva for, blame their gay children when they refuse to do JONAH or are unsuccessful.
    I hope some of what I said helps you understand how this is really affecting the lives of Orthodox gay and lesbian (and transgender) folks.

  • Heshy Fried August 3, 2009, 11:56 AM

    CK: I would love to interview someone who successfully completed a program like Jonah, though I think that those people are probably more in the closet then those who are actually gay. Maybe they have a Jonah -Next program for Jonah alumni.

  • Anonymous Frum Lesbian August 3, 2009, 11:57 AM

    I really appreciate this interview and relate to much of what she says. I also live a frum life with a frum same-sex partner. We strive to be good, mitzvah-observant Jews. We are involved in a group of other women like us, trying to support each other in maintaining our frumkeit (rather than just leaving Judaism as so many lesbian, gay and bisexual people do because they feel there is no room for them – some get driven out rather violently, in fact). It’s not about rewriting the Torah, it’s about understanding that same-sex relationships don’t negate the rest of one’s yiddishkeit, that it’s not comparable to eating a cheeseburger (who commits suicide or is destined to a life without companionship because they can’t eat a cheeseburger?) and that we need rabbis and fellow Jews to understand who we *actually are* before they can be expected to be compassionate to us. I think JONAH is a shonde, they themselves as an org admit they have little success. Most reputable mental health orgs warns not just that there’s no proof of people changing due to reparative therapy but that there are actual damages done to many people who go through those “therapies.” I know several people who’ve gone through JONAH and all have had damage done and found the “therapy” didn’t work. Also, I think it’s worth asking – Would you want YOUR daughter to marry a guy who was “straight” only because he’d been converted by an org like JONAH? Would you trust he would be a good partner, authentically heterosexual, and not destroy her life?

    Also, it’s ironic that many of our fellow frum Jews would rather we go completely off the derech and live secular gay lives than that we should stay observant committed Jews but happen to have one small area in which our lives are different than theirs (not to mention many of them aren’t keeping many important mitzvos, from ethical business dealings to taharas ha mishpacha, which is certainly much worse than a woman loving another woman, but that’s besides the point). We not supposed to get in the way of a fellow Jew performing mitzvos, and by shaming and ostracizing lesbian and gay Jews, you basically are doing so.
    Thanks again for this.

    -Loyal FrumSatire Reader

  • Fruitfly August 3, 2009, 12:02 PM

    Jonathan, I just wrote a long response but somehow it got erased. just wanted to let you know that I had a friend who tried to change his orientation using marriage, children, and JONAH- he killed himself on Yom Kippur about 3 years ago. I know multiple other Orthodox or formerly Orthodox men who tried JONAH and had to quit because of depression. You are right that JONAH doesn’t FORCE anyone to “get straight” … the problem is more in that they are not honest about their stats. I have NEVER met someone who successfully got straight. I even called to beg them to introduce me to a “successful” orthodox “butch” lesbian who is now straight and married etc… they had none to offer me. But because they claim to be so effective, my mother has not spoken to me in 2 years because she believes that this can be reversed. If it could, it would have been reversed in years and years of therapy and me trying my best to be a frum straight girl… cuz believe me, G-d knows how much I tried. I don’t understand G-d’s ways in all this. But I have emunah that we’ll all be okay in the end.

  • Sergey Kadinsky August 3, 2009, 12:07 PM

    Sounds like she’s a “612 Yid,” one who considers herself Orthodox in observance, but is unable to overcome that last hurdle. Instead, she accepts and flaunts it.

    I’m not perfect in my observance either, and who is? When I do something, I keep in mind what’s right and wrong. I don’t try to justify my wrongs.

  • steven smith from scranton ohio August 3, 2009, 12:09 PM

    being gay or lesbian is not an intrinsic issur acting on it by doing the maiseh is and issur. The torah doesnt force someone to change who they are but it does require you to have self control ie. even if my neighbors wife is a supermodel I may be attracted to her but i’m not allowed to act on it

  • ck August 3, 2009, 12:28 PM

    Phil: I actually seriously doubt it was a Rabbi or a haredi person. I have yet to see a haredi with a gun here and how can one be frum and commit murder?

  • Jonathan August 3, 2009, 12:29 PM

    I definitely don’t believe that everyone who goes through JONAH will see success. I can only imagine that it must be hard to change even under the assumption that envrionmental factors play a part. The way I see it is that those who try to change are similar to other people who enter therapies for other things. And the common factor of “therapy” in general is that not everyone see’s success and that it is never easy to change any behavior.

    But to blame JONAH on a person’s suicide (can you really know so surely what drives a person to suicide anyways?) and to completely disregard it when JONAH can indeed bring real cases of people who have seen true success and found a much more wholeness in their life is wrong.

    I am almost certain those who have a profound hate for JONAH don’t understand fully what they try to advocate. There are so many misconceptions about the idea of today’s reparitve therapy. And I believe the reason for this stems from people’s close-mindedness about it, both in the frum and non frum worlds.

    All I ask really is for people just to be more open-minded, don’t be quick to judge, and respect both sides, even when you may disagree in the end.

  • talya lev August 3, 2009, 1:08 PM

    some thoughts.. first, i’m thankful to all of those who have take time to respond.

    -regarding jonah: i would be surprised if a person arrived at the conclusion to contact jonah if they had experienced total acceptance and support for their sexual orientation, and were taught that it was a viable lifestyle option within the framework of orthodox judaism. since this is not the reality, i know that many people arrive at jonah because of a desperate desire to change what they are taught is abnormal and an abomination, so that they can live ‘normal’ happy lives. If individuals find joy and health in this path, then obviously i have no objection. I just would hope that if a person does choose to attempt to alter their sexual orientation, it would be a choice that wasn’t influenced in any way by social or religious pressure.

    -regarding my lack of humor: meet me in person for that. this topic affects so many people’s lives that it’s difficult for me right now to joke about things.

    -regarding the recent shooting: i think it’s terrible that the left chiloni community has used it as an opportunity to bash the haredim. yeah, blaming earthquakes on homosexuality doesn’t quite resonate with me either, but to foster even more hatred is not the proper derech.. jews were wounded and killed.. we should all join together to mourn for the loss of life and work even harder to combat sinat chinam..

    -regarding not going into halachic details: if you’re interested, you can find many articles online. i’ve done my research over the years and am actively engaged with organizations that are beginning to explore the issue. I do have to say though that I’m surprised that those of you who’ve brought up perspectives on the issur on homosexuality have failed to mention Agunot. Tamar Ross and Hanah Kahat, brilliant frum women, have spoken extensively on both subjects and gave enlightening view points.

    -on a last note for now, i don’t view my sexuality as a hurdle. it is part of who i am and i do not obsess over it any more than the average religious woman looking for a chatan. what is really a hurdle for me is dealing with the hatred out there and not allowing it to cloud my soul with negativity or push me away from torah and yiddishkeit. when i came to israel, i had a lot to learn about lashon hara and derech eretz, and i pray to Hashem to help me find love in my heart for all of am yisrael no matter where they are holding religiously or spiritualy.

  • NYC23 August 3, 2009, 1:12 PM

    Now I see what you mean by “it aint always Frum, and it ain’t always Satire”.
    But it does suck that you didn’t get your last few question in!

  • NYC23 August 3, 2009, 1:14 PM

    Anonymous Frum Lesbian: Can you answer the last questions? lol

  • Phil August 3, 2009, 1:15 PM

    CK,

    You were the one that implied the guy taking law into his own hands to kill a sinner. I don’t know of any non religious people that have a problem with sinners.

  • jacob da jew August 3, 2009, 1:20 PM

    wow, u got ck commenting. noyce

  • bitterwater August 3, 2009, 1:23 PM

    Quite insightful, although I wish she would elaborate on how she justifies and reconciles the Torah prohibition. She seemed to deviate from a clear answer, presumably because she has no answer.

  • ck August 3, 2009, 1:29 PM

    Phil? What? I said “nowhere in Judaism is one entitled to take the law into his own hands and gun down people for being gay Ė which is not in and of itself a sin etc. etc.” By saying “Judaism” I established the context as religious and inferred that anyone that sought to justify the shooting on religious grounds was grossly ignorant and probably homophobic. Hence it was unlikely that a truly religious person was involved in the shooting.

  • larry August 3, 2009, 1:44 PM

    do you feel “intuitive” about shabbos or kosher or any other commandment of the torah that you aspire to?? no!! so what give’s you the right to feel intuitive about being gay??!!

  • Schwartzie August 3, 2009, 1:45 PM

    Phil- your response was hilarious. I actually wanted to tell you sorry for biting your head off at the first post I did- I had thought you were someone else who was repeating himself for the third time. While you did kind of miss the point, I wouldn’t have said that if I didn’t mistake you for that other user. Though my article probably sounded less tongue-in-cheek than it was really meant to be.

    That said, I would love to wear the Zorro cape and mask to shul, even though I’m not capable of being the rabbi of even a congregation of perverts. I dunno. Maybe I am. We’ll have to see. But I’d hate a shul like that because people would put on airs, and there would be a certain level of pretention, and anyways I believe that perversion belongs either in the bedroom or on paper only.

    But in any case, you can’t liken homosexuality to child molesting or bestiality, as I’m sure I’m not the first one to draw the distinction that homosexual relations are consensual. Plus, gayness doesn’t hurt anybody any more than jerking off does. Who cares? I’m not following you into your shower and telling you what to do. Why do people have to be so vocal about what gay people do in their own bedrooms? Bottom line, sometimes people do sins. Who gives a shit.

  • bitterwater August 3, 2009, 2:06 PM

    Schwartzie
    Bottom line, sometimes people do sins. Who gives a shit.

    no one does, the problem occurs wheen people try to justify it and claim that realy its ok and not rendered a sin.

  • Avrumy August 3, 2009, 2:07 PM

    Based on ckís excellent and pointed post, I was going to ask her to marry me. Then I realized she is a he. And if he wouldnít be able to find a partner on a gay planet full of handsome models, what hope do I have? And besides I already have my wonderful Jewish partner.
    It is a wonderful service that Heshy posted this interview. Too much attention is focused on gay men in general. We (the frum gays) always wonder where the frum lesbians have gone off to. Because even orthodox gay men sometimes need a flat tire changed. Yuck yuck.

    Anonymous Frum Lesbian is correct about JONAH. Sure they say live and let live. But by putting out false statistics they get guilt-ridden parents to send their kids for treatment (and make a few bucks). JONAH was founded by 2 parents of gay sons. Since their own sons wouldnít ďchangeĒ they made it a mission to change other peopleís kids. I know single and married guys that go to JONAH meetings. Some enjoy the camaraderie and discussions, but none of them have turned straight. Some see it as a way to meet other gay guys and hang out after the meetings. If any of them feel better about themselves after a meeting, kol hakavod. If they can maintain a marriage and a s*xual life with an opposite s*x partner, OK, I guess (as long as the partner knows and agrees). But donít expect any miraculous changes to sexual orientation. IT DOES NOT HAPPEN. Basically it just adds guilt to those who feel they are not making the progress that was ďexpectedĒ. It, like all reparative therapies, is a sham.

  • Aaron August 3, 2009, 2:19 PM

    Its not a sin to be gay, only the act. Further, the torah only prohibits it when its between two men. Be sure to get that straight.

  • Chavi Stark August 3, 2009, 2:22 PM

    Go Talya!! I love you girl!! I think Bat Kol and any other organization like it is incredible and I thank such people for creating open spaces for those who need them. We need to get the word out more and get more support for the Gay Jewish community.

  • Schwartzie August 3, 2009, 2:25 PM

    oh, reaaallllllllyy. it bothers you THAT MUCH, eh, whether people call it a sin or not. again, it comes down to childish finger-pointing and poking your nose into other people’s business. imagine yourself eight years old and ratting your sibling out to your parents, “on principle”. when I was little, I would tell on my siblings for any little benign crime, and my parents, who had better things to do, couldn’t have cared less if someone was watching TV or something. “But it’s wrrrroonnngg”, I would whine to them. again, who gives a shit. they’d have been happier if I had just freaking left them alone for five minutes. I feel that there is a deep parallel between the two situations. the base sentiment is the same.

  • CW August 3, 2009, 2:32 PM

    Dude, no pics?

  • E. Fink August 3, 2009, 2:45 PM

    It will never cease to amaze me how people can get so riled up over this issue.

    Lo Sisna Achicha Bilvavecha is D’Oraisa. Lashon Hara is 17 Laavim. Murder is yehareg V’al Yaavor.

    “Do not judge your friend lest you are in the exact same position” (which will never happen).

    And yet we just love to talk and opine about other people’s sexuality.

    For shame.

  • Frayda August 3, 2009, 2:51 PM

    Good interesting interview. Thank you.

  • Heshy Fried August 3, 2009, 2:53 PM

    I will tell you why people fuss about it – because unlike stealing millions of dollars, homosexuality is public and is one of those things that is not widely discussed.

    You never hear frum people talking about gays, if it were more known it wouldn’t be battled as much – the other problem is what they teach in yeshiva is summed up by what I learned.

    I heard mutliple times from different Rabbeim that Gay people were sick and let themselves be overpowered by the yetzer harah and were weak people who succumbed to their taivos, I was also told that gay people were the types who had their fun with women and needed to move on to keep things exciting – go ask any Rochester guy who has ever heard Rav Baruch give the Mr. Ed schmooze.

  • Chris_B August 3, 2009, 3:09 PM

    There’s pretty much no scientific evidence one way or the other as far as 3rd party influence on changing an individual’s sexuality. There are groups similar to JONAH in the non Jewish world, they also suffer from lack of clear methodology, fuzzy statistics, etc.

  • Dan August 3, 2009, 3:12 PM

    First, Kol HaKavod to Talya for having the guts to come out and let Heshy put her into the public space for humiliation.

    But, I need to ask, what is with all you Torah loving/Mitvah loving jerks? Where is it taught to disrespect others? Where is it taught to not have compassion for others?

    I’m certain I’m not the only commenter on this post (besides ck and Heshy) who knows Talya. I consider her a friend and I respect her for her choices. Are they mine? No. So what. Is this a reason, even in the polite comments of most, to not support her?

    Big deal you would choose otherwise for yourself. As Jews, if we can’t honor, respect and support our own, what/who are we? Really. (I’m not talking about supporting, say a pedophile or a murderer.)

    We need to remember everyone has their own strengths and being they bring to our world. Let us cherish them. Otherwise the ayatollahs and their kind will ultimately win.

  • Evan August 3, 2009, 3:15 PM

    So I happen to know Talya personally, and consider her one of my better friends that I’ve made since I made aliyah. I’ve been by her for Shabbat a few times, and can attest to the fact that she does indeed have a sense of humor. She also happens to be a warm and wonderful person.

    That said, I want to leap into the fray of the halakhic discussion. If I am remembering correctly, the main justification given for why women aren’t allowed to be in homosexual relationships is that it was somehow offensive to the rabbis who wrote the halakha. I think it was referred to a licentious. So following up that train of thought, dancing, wearing the color red (for women), showing ankles or wrists, and singing in public are all as forbidden as lesbian relationships. Yet, I know Orthodox girls who wear red, one or two who will sing in public (with or without a group of people), a hell of a lot of nice dati leumi girls who wear skirts that don’t cover their ankles and shirts that don’t cover their wrists, and I myself love to salsa dance. Just because it’s written doesn’t make it so. I would wager any number of you “Torah Observant” Jews out there clap and sing on Shabbat. Well, stop it! Both the Rambam and the Shulchan Arouch forbid you from doing that for fear you might get up and get an instrument. For that matter, banging on the table isn’t permitted either.

    I will be honest, in our numerous conversations about this and other things, the discussion of male homosexuality has come up a few times. Talya knows my stance on this. People mistakenly say that male homosexual relationships are on the same level as eating shellfish. This is simply not true. Eating shellfish does not carry a death penalty according to Torah law. However, breaking Shabbat, eating chametz during Pesach, and being a snotty little brat all carry a death penalty too. (I’m willing to be argued out of Pesach, because there is a belief that having your nefesh cut off from the people means that it’s G-d who will punish you.) I have heard alternative ideas offered for what the law prohibits dealing with male homosexual relationships, and I find most of the arguments lacking. Even if the original intention of G-d when writing the Law was a certain thing, we are bound to an extent by the interpretation of poskim over time. Most poskim who talk about the subject say any form of sexual contact between men is forbidden by that particular law.

    Let’s assume for a moment that we all really know what G-d plan is. I know, it’s a fun flight of fancy, but bear with me. If we can assume that G-d wouldn’t willingly force someone to a burden they can’t bear, and that gay men simply need to overcome it, I would certainly hope that the intolerance I see constantly on this issue would not be found. If homosexuality is a combination of genetic, hormonal and sociological factors, then gay men should not be treated as these pariahs or Untouchables. We won’t be damaged by being around them, so stop acting so freaked out by them. I happen to have only one or two gay friends here, but I have never been averse to friendship with a gay man in my life unless for some reason he was otherwise undesirable to be around.

    Halakhically, I can’t really find much evidence for why it would be permissible for men to have homosexual relationships, but I also have never found a rule that says that breaking one of the commandments means you shouldn’t obey any other. I would rather gay men openly and willfully break this commandment and be greeted with kindness when they fulfill many many other commandments that they are required to do. If we create (or perpetuate) a hostile environment for people who are interested in fulfilling mitzvot, we are as surely committing a hilul haShem as they are.

    Derekh eretz kadma le’Torah has always been a concept found in Judaism, from the time of Moshe Rabenu to Hillel the Elder to Rebbi Akiva to the Ramban to Rav Kook. To treat someone without respect and kindness debases us more than any other sin. It is the root of why the world was destroyed in the Flood, why the Second Temple was destroyed, and why even now sectionalism and divisiveness plague the Jewish people. If we really want to be more holy and be a goy kadosh, we have to remember that G-d cares intensely about how we behave, not just how well we obey His commandments.

  • Gefilte Fish August 3, 2009, 3:48 PM

    Evan writes:

    “If I am remembering correctly, the main justification given for why women arenít allowed to be in homosexual relationships is that it was somehow offensive to the rabbis who wrote the halakha.”

    That is incorrect. The Rambam (Maimonides) writes that women touching each other intimately transgress the commandment of “Kemaaseh eretz mitzraim lo saasin” or something like that, meaning that the things the Egyptians in Mitzraim did, thou shalt not do, and apparently lesbianism was a trend in ancient Egypt.

    So that “offensive to the Rabbis who wrote the halacha” is a bowl of crap! and I find if offensive too.

  • Phil August 3, 2009, 3:50 PM

    Schwartzie,

    Truth be told no one gives a sh*t what they do, just as they shouldn’t care what I do. It’s when they come out with stupidity like pride parades and these other “I’m out of the closet, feel bad for me” groups, it starts getting ridiculous.

    If heteros humans can live without them, gays should be able to as well if they believe they a just as human as we are.

    Married or gay, keep your bedroom stories and adventures where they belong: in the bedroom, not in the shul, street or media.

  • anonymous ger August 3, 2009, 3:54 PM

    People (including you, Heshy) may be interested in the Documentary “Trembling Before G-d”, which is about both in-the-closet and out-of-the-closet homosexual people in the frum community. It is a well-done movie, and is eye-opening as well as interesting.

  • Mark August 3, 2009, 3:56 PM

    I was also told that gay people were the types who had their fun with women and needed to move on to keep things exciting

    This is clearly ridiculous as so many gay people realize that they are gay early in high school before they’ve ever had “any fun” with women!!

  • Anonymous August 3, 2009, 4:32 PM

    I’ve heard this before…

    It’s hipocracy. Homosexuality is not a Torah life, and there is no Halochik basis for any claims to support such a life. Countless issues are present, such as reproducing (which is clearly not possible with same-sex marriages). 100 years ago there were no homosexuals…now everyone wants to be homosexual because they need to feel ‘liberated’ and they claim they ‘cannot’ find any suitablity in the opposite sex. It case anyone hasn’t read Bereishis yet, check out the 1st and 2nd prakim and see if opposites were suited for each other or not…

  • Miriam August 3, 2009, 5:06 PM

    Kol ha’kavod on this great interview! Well done!

  • Susanne August 3, 2009, 6:54 PM

    Wow. Impressed you kept this so kosher Hesh. Great interview with Talya!

  • ck August 3, 2009, 8:06 PM

    Phil wrote: “Married or gay, keep your bedroom stories and adventures where they belong: in the bedroom, not in the shul, street or media.”

    For a gay person, every day is the equivalent of a heterosexual pride parade. Every day they are made to feel flawed, marginalized and different in the shul, street and the ubiquitous media . That’s why I wouldn’t wish homosexuality on anyone and I thank G_d every day that I am not gay. They want to have one day to parade and counteract all that? It’s no sweat off my nose.

    Anonymous: Attitudes like yours drive homosexuals away from any Torah life and Torah community. But that point’s been already made. Homosexuals can indeed reproduce via artificial insemination, adoption, surrogacy etc. all the same things available to infertile couples. There weren’t homosexuals 100 years ago? Just because they were more likely to be closeted doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. You also said “everyone wants to be homosexual” – good grief, are you kidding? Do you want to be a homosexual? I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be gay. Not for anything. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • Avrumy August 3, 2009, 9:20 PM

    Of course Anonymous chooses anonymity. He or she is an idiot. ck pointed that out quite clearly. Yasher koach.

  • Danny Greene August 3, 2009, 9:33 PM

    I’m so impressed by Tayla’s honest and open responses to these questions. Kol hakaod! Thank you for sharing your story and continuing to shed light on the world of Torah observant Jews who also are gay. This story is not new — but it’s so great that more and more people are feeling comfortable discussing it publicly. I personally am not a Torah observant Jew — but I am very connected to and passionate about Jewish life. Judaism to me is about providing the tools for people to become better versions of themselves. Considering that everyone is different, we’re pretty lucky to have such an extensive toolbox (mitzvot, history, values, community, land, language, spirituality, etc). Any prohibition that prevents someone from becoming their true self doesn’t work for me.

  • Mark August 3, 2009, 9:38 PM

    ck – For a gay person, every day is the equivalent of a heterosexual pride parade. Every day they are made to feel flawed, marginalized and different in the shul, street and the ubiquitous media.

    I don’t quite understand this? In shul? How can anyone possibly know of someone is heter or homosexual in shul?

    I mean, I was single until age 30+, did people look at me and assume that I was homosexual?????

    And on the street? How can anyone tell? Maybe I am missing something.

    But I agree that the media makes a big deal of homo/hetero differences, entire plotlines even.

  • bitterwater August 3, 2009, 10:32 PM

    No, no one cares. do whatever the hell you want but donít say that the torah doesnít condemn such behavior.

  • Sergeant J August 3, 2009, 11:06 PM

    The torah condemns violating civil laws too, but people rase money for criminals to get support in jail… as if they were victims..

  • Schwartzie August 3, 2009, 11:21 PM

    I mean, I don’t approve of gay pride parades for the same reason I wouldn’t want to daven with a group of perverts who look to me in my Zorro costume for support. I hate when people adopt personas that generalize who they are. But to play devil’s advocate, if there wasn’t so much homophobia there wouldn’t be a necessity for people to come out with pride parades. While I don’t agree with the means (and for more a wider ideoligical reason, not because of a disagreement with the end) I would have to temporarily endorse the homosexual community in doing what they feel in necessary, at least until people stop harassing them. Hopefully soon they will be able to live free of cop-like harassment, and they won’t feel the psychological need to compete with mainstream society for everyday rights. After all, who wants to need a parade just to feel accepted?

  • Phil August 3, 2009, 11:47 PM

    CK,

    You’re just buying into their bogus theories. If I take my kids to chool or walk down the street with my wife, I’m not parading my status as a hetero. I’m just living.

    On the other hand, these freaks of nature that organize a parade of crossdressing dudes in pink shorts and leather caps, chanting with posters and blowing whistles to let everyone know what their orientation is is simply sickening, especially in Jerusalem.

  • shulem August 4, 2009, 12:48 AM

    hey hesh, can you interview a frummie gay guy. iwant to know what im missing…since i think its obsolutly disgusting….

  • Gefilte Fish August 4, 2009, 1:12 AM

    I love the way this discussion is progressing, Hesh! it almost looks like Vos iz neias comments… lol!

  • s(b.) August 4, 2009, 2:07 AM

    Thanks. ūüôā

  • ck August 4, 2009, 3:22 AM

    Oh Phil,
    Allow me to explain about “heterosexual pride day.” The norm in society is heterosexuality because most people are, well, heterosexual. A hundred times a day a gay person will be reminded that he or she does not represent the norm. In media advertisements are geared towards heterosexuals, romance novels, movies and popular music extoll heterosexuality. On the street you see mostly heterosexual couples, some are holding hands, being affectionate with each other, walking with their children etc. and no one stares because it’s the norm. This is all harmless stuff of course, but it can reinforce feelings of alienation. As Jews, we ought to be able to easily relate. Why do so many of us get nose jobs? Why do our women straighten or dye their hair? Because standards of beauty, reinforced by the media, value button noses and WASPy hair. Why? Because in the diaspora, non-Jews are the norm. See how that works?

    So one gay pride parade to help counteract that is no skin off my nose. If it grosses you out, don’t look. The date of these parades and their routes are always advertised way ahead of time. Use that time to stay at home and study Torah or take your family out for a tiyul.

    Just for the record, cross dressers are predominantly heterosexual. I live in the center of town in Jerusalem and have seen 3 pride parades pass through. It’s a very sedate affair compared to just about any other pride parade anywhere else in the world, in keeping with the sensibilities of the residents.

    I hope that answers your questions as well Mark.

    And please note, I haven’t made any judgement about how this corresponds with halachah. I just know that I am not going to shun someone because of their sexual orientation and thus drive them away from doing other mitzvot. Talya has been a frequent Shabbat guest and I’ve been by her for Shabbat as well. Her spirituality and the purity of her ahavat yisrael have been an inspiration. No way am I going to shun her and thus jeopardize all the other remarkable aspects of her Judaism. No way.

  • Sergeant J August 4, 2009, 7:00 AM

    Phil must only go to the ones with cross-dressing and crazyness, he seems to like to talk about them alot, over and over again, post after post..

  • Phil August 4, 2009, 8:34 AM

    CK,

    I still don’t see the need to parade about everything that goes on in the bedroom. Do you think every type of s*xual deviant group or fetish should have their own parade?

    Why only gays?

    Whay do they think or want us to think that they are “special” in any way, more so than heteros or any other deviants?

    Why do they insist on rubbing everyone’s noses in their crap with their parades or with groups that attempt to “accept” their lifestyle into mainstream orthodox Judaism when it’s clearly forbidden?

    In that context, are they any better than the reform people that accept interfaith marriages because the “poor” couple is in “love” so we should feel bad and accept them for who they are?

    I have nothing against anyone in particular, just this stupid movement of people that have the the constant need to be accepted by others.

    I daven in a Chabad shul. I like to wear jeans and a T shirt, most wear hats and capotas. If some people look at me funny, do you think I’m going to start a movement for T shirt wearing lubabs to be accepted?

    Why should gays care what anyone else thinks about their lifestyle. They obviously feel guilt, and you don’t feel guilt unless you’ve done something wrong.

    Sergeant J.

    As usual, I use the most flamboyant and extreme scenarios to prove my points. It’s simply my way of making a case. No, I don’t think all gays walk around in women’s undies or that all lesbos have mustaches and lumberjack shirts with beer bellies hanging out.

  • ck August 4, 2009, 9:27 AM

    Phil wrote: “I still donít see the need to parade about everything that goes on in the bedroom.”

    I don’t understand. Do they have sexual intercourse at these parades? Uh… no. And whatever they do, no one forces you to look.

    Phil continued: “Do you think every type of s*xual deviant group or fetish should have their own parade?”

    As long as they aren’t breaking any laws, in the US their 1st Amendment rights and Freedom of Assembly guarantees them the right to do so. Besides, Homosexual sex happens between two consenting adults and isn’t criminal. If pro-Israel Jews and Puerto Ricans and people of Caribbean ancestry and Christians etc. can freely assemble, there’s no reason why gays can’t either. So yeah. It’s not only the gays.

    I don’t think they care what you think of them per se. I don’t think they want you to think they’re special. They just want to unite with like minded individuals and celebrate who they are and express themselves in the same way every other special interest group does.

    Phil: “Why do they insist on rubbing everyoneís noses in their crap with their parades or with groups that attempt to ďacceptĒ their lifestyle into mainstream orthodox Judaism when itís clearly forbidden?”

    I don’t understand. Where you live are all residents required to attend the pride parade? As for these groups, like say Bat Kol, all they are saying is that one’s sexual orientation ought not preclude you from performing as many mitzvas as possible. Their outreach is as much within the gay community as it is without. It’s often about not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    Phil continued: “In that context, are they any better than the reform people that accept interfaith marriages because the ďpoorĒ couple is in ďloveĒ so we should feel bad and accept them for who they are?”

    I think Reform Judaism dispensed with a whole mess of rules and halachot. They abrogated stuff mi deoraysa – kashrut, taharat mishpacha, the entire body of rabbinic Judaism, sabbath observance etc. Reform Judaism is a post emancipation movement meant to make Judaism seem less foreign. I sure as heck am not going to defend that.

    And yes, it’s well within your rights to start a t-shirt wearing lubabs movement. That was a bad analogy Phil.

    Phil concluded “Why should gays care what anyone else thinks about their lifestyle. They obviously feel guilt, and you donít feel guilt unless youíve done something wrong.”

    Come on! Why do some Jews take off their kippas even though there is no risk of violence? Change their names and their appearance to seem less Jewish? Is it because there is in fact something wrong with Judaism? No. I don’t think so. There is however something wrong with prejudice and ignorance.

  • anon August 4, 2009, 9:50 AM

    I got an idea:
    How’s about a “child molesters parade”
    or a “Kindey on ebay sellers parade” but oh no that would be offensive ,right.\even though some of the people who do those things are othodox.Let’s get something straight the average american doesn’t give a shit what anyones sexual orientation is as long is it don’t affect them,all these parades are a waste of fucking time,put on by bored rich academics trying to “raise awarness”,real people laugh at this shit. Most people care about where there next dollar going to come from that’s about it!You guys are living in fantasy land, bottom line.WAKE UP TO THE REAL WORLD

  • Phil August 4, 2009, 9:54 AM

    CK,

    You’re still missing the point, which is that these people aren’t gathering for themselves, the way we do for simchas beis hashueva. They are parading for the world to accept them, that is by and large the theme of the pride parades last I checked. Makes all the difference.

    Why does the author need an organization to tell him/her or others that they don’t need to be precluded from Judaism just because they are different? First of all, it’s self evident. Second, we don’t have any parallels when it comes to other transgressions.

    Let’s assume that a normal married couple has a problem not being with each other while the wife is a niddah. Can you imagine them “coming out”, finding other couples like them and making a support group to have mainstream orthodoxy change Taharat hamishpacha laws, because a few people can’t keep their pants on?

    Religious Jews who take off their kippahs aren’t doing so because of guilt, it’s more likely that

    a) It isn’t their minhag, such as some sephardim.

    b) They have some sort of inferiority complex and think they won’t be accepted if they show up to work with a kippa.

    c) They don’t want to be seen as Jews because of possible chillul Hashem or maras ayin if they are at a place they shouldn’t be seen in.

    Gays obvously have guilt, as mentioned by the author of this post, as well as other related posts Hesh has done in the past.

    These people claim they are suffering from guilt to the point of some of them being suicidal. Doesn’t that clearly indicate that they feel they are doing something fundametally wrong?

  • Heshy Fried August 4, 2009, 10:01 AM

    I got an idea:
    Howís about a ďchild molesters paradeĒ
    or a ďKindey on ebay sellers paradeĒ but oh no that would be offensive ,right.\even though some of the people who do those things are othodox.

    This is ridiculous – gay people aren’t hurting anyone or doing anything illegal, they are just trying to live their lives in peace and ignorant bastards like you are too hung up to realize that.

  • ck August 4, 2009, 10:01 AM

    Hereís a question Phil. Do you have any positions against Homosexuality that arenít based on Judaism?

  • Chaya August 4, 2009, 10:10 AM

    Great post! Sounds like a cool chick

  • Mark August 4, 2009, 10:12 AM

    FS – arenít hurting anyone

    Who are “kidney sellers on ebay” hurting? ūüôā

  • Heshy Fried August 4, 2009, 10:16 AM

    You got me mark – let the kidney parade begin

  • P. da Costa August 4, 2009, 10:24 AM

    I agree with what ck said.

    Gays don’t parade what they do in the bedroom; the point is to say “hey, we exist”.

    What people (gay or straight) do in bed isn’t a whim, it’s an expression of who they are. The only thing gay s*x and sh*t eating have in common is that Phil finds them disgusting. I respect that, but surely it isn’t strong enough an argument.

    As Jews, we should try to empathize with people who are different, even if we find them gross. We have been “them” quite often. It wouldn’t be very Jewish to roll one’s eyes and say, “well, really, what’s the matter with those orphans and widows whining all day, can’t they just stop making a fuss”.

  • Sergeant J August 4, 2009, 10:55 AM

    Well, depends if the kidney sellers on Ebay are selling their own kidney, or the kidney of someone else, doesn’t it?

  • Heshy Fried August 4, 2009, 11:08 AM

    Well from what I understand they would put a gun to your head and steal your kidney

  • Sergeant J August 4, 2009, 11:13 AM

    Actually, in some countries they would use blackmail, or collect organs from accident victims in hospitals without consent.

  • Mark August 4, 2009, 11:15 AM

    Well, depends if the kidney sellers on Ebay are selling their own kidney, or the kidney of someone else, doesnít it?

    Willing buyer, willing seller, willing broker, morally okay.

    Well from what I understand they would put a gun to your head and steal your kidney

    Immoral, illegal, evil, harmful, close to murder, etc. Basically, really really really bad!

  • ck August 4, 2009, 12:13 PM

    No Mark. In most civilized countries, trafficking in organs is illegal. Dina Deh Malchutei Dina applies and it is thus immoral, illegal and an aveira.

    “Willing buyer, willing seller, willing broker, morally okay.”

    So heroin trafficking is ok too?

  • Mark August 4, 2009, 1:08 PM

    ck – No Mark. In most civilized countries, trafficking in organs is illegal. Dina Deh Malchutei Dina applies and it is thus immoral, illegal and an aveira.

    I think you are confusing “moral” and “legal”, that is very common. For example, in Saudi Arabia, because the legal system cuts off the hand of a thief, are you saying that it is also moral?

    Mark – ďWilling buyer, willing seller, willing broker, morally okay.Ē

    ck – So heroin trafficking is ok too?

    Not legal, maybe moral. Certainly similarly moral to tobacco trafficking. Okay? Depends what you mean by “ok”.

  • Adam Jessel August 4, 2009, 3:56 PM

    I wrote an article on the subject for Jewish Action some time ago. You can click on my website to see it.
    While one cannot help but feel compassion for Talya, my experience has been that the environmental contribution to homosexuality which Talya mentions is usually the major factor.
    Those who get good therapy from someone very knowledgeable in the field — I know of at at three — not only are able to understand and largely overcome lesbianism, but grow in many other ways, too. And we all know former lesbians who became predominantly heterosexual later in life.

    So I think it’s much more complex than Talya presents it, and I don’t think we should knock groups like JONAH which offer support to those who prefer not to live a homosexual life.

    By the way, the email at the end of the article is no longer valid. I have a gmail account instead: szjessel . I welcome further discussion — it’s an important topic.

  • Phil August 4, 2009, 4:11 PM

    Ck,

    No, I don’t have any positions against them that aren’t religion based, other than I find them disgusting. If I’m watching a movie and a gay scene comes on, I’ll change the channel or fast forward because it’s repulsive. For some reason, lesbos don’t do that to me, I can watch them as I would a normal s*x scene.

    Yes I know, I shouldn’t be watching any of the above or TV in general, but I never claimed to be perfect.

  • Jimmy37 August 4, 2009, 6:29 PM

    I find it interesting that when it comes to getting your eyes corrected, no one objects to getting glasses, contacts, lasik, etc. But when it comes to getting your sexuality fixed, all of sudden being abnormal is normal, and shouldn’t be corrected.

  • karen August 5, 2009, 12:31 PM

    Phil, your homophobic rants are obvious. Calm down we all know you’re a homo hiding in the closet.No need to go on and on especially mentioning channel changing when two men kiss. How obvious.Your so gay!!

    Great interview..How can I contact Talya??

  • Phil August 5, 2009, 12:46 PM

    Karen,

    Actually, I’m a closet vampire waiting to drink the blood of my innocent Shabbos guets after I’ve lured them in with my charmin looks and expensive Tequila. Just don’t tell anyone.

    Don’t forget to floss when you finish carpet munching.

  • Bsamim Smoker August 5, 2009, 12:56 PM

    Phil
    I suppose after you finish sucking out there blood you steal thier kidneys and sell them on ebay.

  • Bsamim Smoker August 5, 2009, 12:58 PM

    I always thought mohels were vampires.But that’s a whole nother story

  • Sergeant J August 5, 2009, 12:58 PM

    Aww, is philly boy jealous? Does he have to cry in his room while wifey -poo goes out at night, and then comes home to floss after carpet munching?
    Poor philly…. Guess it’s tiem for him to have one of those “overnight fishing extravaganzas” that are “men only”again… and no, phil, no one here wants to see your tackle…

  • Phil August 5, 2009, 1:09 PM

    Bsamim,

    Ebay doesn’t allow the sale of body parts, but I use the liver to make foie gras.

    Sergeant gay,

    I see you’ve joined the ranks of the childish and immature, so I’ll humour you and play along. I’m sure you’d love nothing more than spending the night with a bunch of men in shorts pumping their rods. Then again, ever since Clinton allowed gays in the military, you’re probably off just fine where you are. Is that how you made Sergeant?

  • Sergeant J August 5, 2009, 1:15 PM

    Phil, what can I say, I decided to join you in your childishness for a second. I see that you still assume that anyone who might even think homosexuals deserve to not be ridiculed is one..
    Or maybe because I know some? Hmm, you did say you “know” sh*t eaters.. Guess it’s a good idea to stay away from any fudge or chocolate ice cream offers at your place..

  • Josh F August 5, 2009, 2:59 PM

    Talya: Kol HaKavod for putting yourself out there like you did. Regardless of what any person thinks God demands, no one can make a halakhic decision until they know all of the facts, and meet the individual people that his or her decision will affect. Unfortunately, our Orthodox society has set up so many barriers of prejudice that it is very difficult for most leaders, lay and professional, to meet people, and to develop the proper empathy that is needed. Your frankness, and your willingness to expose yourself in so public a way is a powerful first step. I bless you that you should continue to have this strength, and I bless us all that that strength help us understand and realize God’s will in our world.

  • karen August 6, 2009, 10:49 AM

    Phil, your brain and attitude is as ugly as you look. Do you have a life other than commented 24/7? You make H’s blog boring. Go keep your wife busy so she wont come to me all the time asking for some sexual attention.

  • Meredith August 6, 2009, 8:30 PM

    Babe, you are beautiful and eloquent, and you leave me in awe…while I would support any choice you made you made such a compassionate and well-written argument, asking for understanding and love. It made me even more proud to be your friend. I love you, you are my soul-sister.

  • R August 7, 2009, 8:33 AM

    two things; firstly – Jonah and other organizations do NOT work. You cannot change somebody’s genetic makeup; you can only surpress it; which doesn’t work.
    secondly, for everyone who judges, plays gd and speaks lashon harah (about gay people) may end up burning in a worse place than gay people – who is to say which one is worse????

  • Phil August 7, 2009, 9:46 AM

    R,

    1) Their is no proof thay being gay is genetic, only speculation.

    2) Though Lashon Hara is a terrible sin, at least people that do it aren’t trying to form support groups and change the rules to justify their wrongdoings.

  • Sergeant J August 10, 2009, 5:42 PM

    Phil, if you think frum people don’t find ways to justify loshon hara to themselves and others, you really do live under a rock.

  • Phil August 10, 2009, 6:45 PM

    Sergeant,

    Read my comment: I said they wren’t trying to form support groups or change the religion to allow it because it’s “too hard” not to.

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