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Gay Orthodox Jews Living With the Contradictions

Jim Burroway

February 15th, 2011

Dr. Jack Drescher, former editor of the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health, grew up an observant Jew in a kosher household. He’s not observant now, but he recently had the opportunity to attend a retreat for LGBT Orthodox Jews:

This group’s love of Jewish ritual both puzzles and intrigues me. When I have gone to religious events in recent years, I always feel like a gay outsider. Here, amidst all this religious celebration, I realize I am not a gay outsider as most of the celebrants are LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender). I’m an outsider here because I’m not frum (observant of Jewish orthodox rituals).

…I was invited to speak about “sexual conversion therapies” at a Shabbaton, a weekend retreat from Friday through Sunday, organized by a group called Eshel. The group’s mission is to provide “a place of SHELTER for Orthodox, frum, and other traditional gay and lesbian Jews seeking to maintain their Jewish observance and find meaningful religious community. We also welcome all those who are formerly Orthodox, ‘Orthodox-curious,’ or otherwise interested in maintaining a connection to traditional Judaism as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender Jews.” Ortho-curious? Who knew?



Tony P
February 15th, 2011 | LINK

Very interesting. I have a friend who was brought up very Italian, very Catholic. He flirted with conversion and he told me that Judaism is not so concerned with the letter of the law per se, but the intent.

February 15th, 2011 | LINK

Huh. It’s interesting to see how religions tackle things such as LGBT inclusivity/equality. Some embrace. Others shun. Still others find a way to compromise and accommodate both their religious needs/beliefs and an individual’s orientation.

Of the three Abrahamic religions, I’d say that Judaism is — from the available data — the mature older brother of the trio. Still occasionally silly, tends to consider the options before acting. Shows respect for other religions, and has earned the respect it gets.

Christianity is like a tween/young teenager, insisting that its always right and simply must have things its way or it will just die! Demands respect from EVERYONE, gives none to others.

Islam… well… Islam is the toddler of the bunch, throwing tantrums whenever anything it doesn’t like (or approve of) happens, whether it (the disliked/unapproved thing or event) is harmful to Islam or not. Demands 100% of your attention and if you dare to look away for even a second, there’s a temper tantrum coming.


February 17th, 2011 | LINK

Orthodox Jews can be as intolerant and irrational as the most fundamentalist Christians and Muslims.

The future of the Abrahamic religions lies on their most liberal branches.

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