Yeshiva U listens to stories of ‘Being Gay’

There was a tremendous amount of media coverage in 2006 when Conservative Judaism opened its doors to gay rabbis and gay marriage.

Reform Judaism had already done so. Orthodoxy never would.

The move by the Conservative world was seen as a small but meaningful social shift (in a much larger religious and social drama that continues).

But the Jewish Week has a fascinating story about an event at Yeshiva University that shows that even some elements of the modern Orthodox world are grappling with how to face the unsettling question of homosexuality in the modern culture.

Which is not to say that there is any talk of accepting gay rabbis or gay marriage or gay anything.

But a gay rabbi and several gay students and alumni were given an opportunity to speak about their lives and the unique challenges they face as Orthodox Jews. The program was called “Being  Gay in the Modern Orthodox World.”

One student said: “Hashem made me gay. My test is not that Hashem made me gay and that I have to become straight, but my test is to live with it.”

Some 600-800 people attended. “The crowd was respectful, listening quietly to the speakers’ remarks, interrupting only for applause, and laughter at the men’s humorous remarks,” according to the JW.

The Jewish Week notes: “Separate statements issued by President Richard Joel, and by leading members of the rabbinical school’s Talmudic faculty, distanced themselves from the event while not outright condemning it.”

I can’t seem to get to the Jewish Week website today, but a cache version is HERE.

So what now?

A statement from top leaders at Yeshiva said this: “Homosexual activity constitutes an abomination. As such, publicizing or seeking legitimization even for the homosexual orientation one feels runs contrary to Torah. In any forum or on any occasion when appropriate sympathy for such discreet individuals is being discussed, these basic truths regarding homosexual feelings and activity must be emphatically re-affirmed.”

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Have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.