A Happy Dilemma for Gay and Lesbian Jews

Timothy Kincaid

March 21st, 2008

gaystar.bmpSometimes you come across a problem that seems more of reason for celebration than a reason for concern: My raise put me in a new tax bracket; My friends are throwing me a birthday party on the day of American Idol results; All the candidates for my congressional district are supportive of my rights, have great ideas about the economy and local jobs, and all have a creative solution for Iraq.

What’s a guy to do?

The Jewish Daily Forward reports just such a dilemma for gay Jews. In the 70’s, the major branches of Judaism were not supportive of their gay members so separate synagogues were established.

But since that time our Jewish brothers and sisters have achieved incredible support from the leaders of their faith. The Reconstructionist and the Reform branches both endorse marriage equality (under civil law) and the Conservative branch allows rabbis to determine whether they will perform same-sex ceremonies. Only Orthodox leaders are not supportive of gay equality.

But now gay synagogues face a serious question:

As the mainstream Jewish world has increasingly accepted gay and lesbian Jews, gay-and-lesbian-founded synagogues like Bet Haverim have grappled with questions that go to the core of their identity: How accepting should they be of straight members? Can they accept straight members and still remain distinct? Is there still a future for gay and lesbian synagogues, or will they slowly merge into the mainstream?

You see, it seems that straight Jewish families like the friendliness of gay synagogues and want to join. They aren’t worried about what the neighbors may think nor are they squeamish that someone may look at them funny. In fact, some seem more at home than in a more conventional synagogue.

Oy vey!

Now I do recognize that this is a genuine issue of concern. It truly does continue to be of vital importance that gay Jewish kids growing up in non-supportive families have models to look to.

“There are people who reach out to us from all over the world — from phone booths in [the ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn enclave of] Boro Park, e-mails from Kansas and Pakistan,” Cohen said. “The fact that there is a gay synagogue gives people hope in an incredible and lifesaving way.”

But, nonetheless, too much support and inclusion is a problem I’d gladly welcome in the Christian faith.

So to our gay Jewish readers I say, “Congratulations on your terrible problem. And thank you for creating within the Jewish community in America some of our strongest allies.”

Ben in Oakland

March 21st, 2008

I know will anger the we’re-gay-so-we’re-special-and-have-a-unqiue culture crowd, but I believe the whole point of gay liberation is the precise opposite of that– we’re gay and we’re not so “special” because of that. in other words, no one really cares.

I think it is wonderful that straight families want to join gay synagogues.


March 21st, 2008

Now I do recognize that this is a genuine issue of concern. It truly does continue to be of vital importance that gay Jewish kids growing up in non-supportive families have models to look to.

I view this similar to Afro-Centric organizations. Inclusive, rather than segregationist, but not to the extent that they subvert their unique identities.

Whether someone is heterosexual or homosexual sexuality is, admittedly, just one strand in a life in which our lives have more similarities than dissimilarities among people. Yet, this does not require denying the dissimilarities or pretending to not notice or express the dissimilarities.

Emily K

March 21st, 2008

Huzzah for our gay-straight “problem!” It reminds me of straight people who like gay bars better than straight bars. And I’m told that even the straight square-dancing club in Philly visits the gay square-dancing club to learn new moves!

The orthodoxy is becoming more tolerant. Chasidism is not, but the issue is being expressed loudly and publicly for the first time in these communities. “Trembling Before G-d” was only the tip of the iceberg – only the start.

Jason D

March 22nd, 2008

Ben, I gotta agree with ya.

I don’t think the gay community will disappear, per se, but I do think a great deal of the gay community was spawned in reaction to discrimination, oppression, fear of violence, etc… As social and political equality continues, there will be less need for gay-specific places. Which is a good thing, and pretty much the whole point of our “agenda” as it were.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.