Today’s JTA (and by “today” I mean “last week,” since that’s how long it took to post this post without errors….GRRR….) announced:

During a two-day meeting of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, which ended Wednesday, authors of four rabbinic opinions on the status of homosexuality in the movement — two on each side of the issue — were asked to make revisions to their opinions ahead of a vote on the issue in December. The decision reaffirms the status quo, at least for the time being, and means that the movement’s 1992 decision barring openly gay individuals from its rabbinical schools and forbidding its rabbis to perform same-sex marriages will remain in place.

I remember being on the plane, on the way back from last year’s Jewlicious at the Beach conference, and writing this article. And I was seated, as usual, next to a lovey-dovey couple. A gay couple, not that there’s anything wrong with that. And the guy next to me started reading over my shoulder as I wrote, which led to a very interesting discussion about gay rights within the different denominations of Judaism. While he and I spoke, his partner sat there in his seat, staring straight ahead, not interacting with either of us.

Among other things, my seat companion told me that he had applied for a job at a Jewish outreach organization and had been turned down, ostensibly because he himself was not Jewish. But, he pointed out, he was involved in an interfaith relationship with his partner, which qualified him to tackle the subject. There’s no proof that he wasn’t hired because he wasn’t Jewish, but he felt a sincere prejudice that I couldn’t allay. And the prejudice wasn’t against his being gay, it was against his being not Jewish.

In the manner of people who talk on airplanes, we traded business cards, and I wrote my blog URLs on the back, urging him to check all of them out. I don’t know that he ever did, but I never heard from him again. And in some ways, I’m glad. I really would not have known how to take the conversation to the next level. Once it gets beyond “Trembling Before G-d,” I’m not sure how to address the issue.

There are two potential approaches…the strictly literal approach (“it’s forbidden by the Torah”), or the compassionate approach (“if gays want to be actively, passionately involved in Jewish life, gam zeh meshubach [this too, is worthy of praise]”). And I’m not sure either of them is one I can embrace wholeheartedly without also embracing my own hypocrisy. If I accept the Torah as binding in other ways–kashrut or Shabbat, or making myself crazy cleaning my apartment for Pesach–then do I necessarily have to embrace everything else in there as well? Like Sotah? Or niddah? Or the constant building of fences around the Torah in order to prevent us from breaching the vague perimeter of the obscurely disallowed?

And how does any of this, if at all, impact my own position on Jewish marriage, either mine or someone else’s? I always said that although I’d never ostracize people who married out, I’d never attend an intermarriage. But recently I did. And I had my justifications, but it was a supremely weird experience for me that I’m not sure I was comfortable with. But while I was there, I spoke to a lot of rarely-seen relatives about how important the issues of Jewish dating and marriage were to me, both personally and professionally. And if by exposing them to my views, any of those secular cousins will think twice before marrying out, isn’t that a good thing? And if I believe that interfaith relationships are not the ideal, how does that alter the way I treat people who have made that choice in their own lives? This is a personal analog to what the Conservative Movement is dealing with on the issue of intermarriage: it’s not an ideal, but it’s a fact…and isn’t it better to forge a relationship with both partners within a mixed marriage than it is to alienate them and their children? The men I met on the airplane were also trying to adopt, and maybe have by now. Are they affiliated with a Jewish community? Or is the combination of a gay, interfaith couple just one taboo too many for organized institutional Judaism?

In the last week, there’s also been another development that I’ve not seen discussed at length in the blogosphere, but that resonated with me. My camp alma mater, Ramah, has decided to allow campers who are Jewish by patrilineal descent. The liberal in me celebrated that connected children with one Jewish parent will be allowed to further explore their Jewish identities at summer camp. Of course, this decision may not represent as radical a change as an initial read might convey, because all Ramah campers are required to be attending an approved Hebrew and Jewish educational program, and most Orthodox or Conservative programs probably still require matrilineal descent as a minimum for enrollment.

Still, the “me” in me had a very different, more emotional reaction…what if I had gone to summer camp, and met a boy who was connected to Jewish life, and we fell in love, only to discover, SURPRISE! It’s his father who is the Jewish parent, and no Conservative rabbi (let alone an Orthodox one) would marry us unless he converted. How would I ask someone who’s already more Jewish in practice than most of his “full-blooded” counterparts to undergo conversion?

In all of these cases, the textual solution is the easier one, but is considerably less compassionate and relatively un-nuanced. And the more compassionate one precludes the possibility of seeing the text as conclusively sacred and creates innumerable grey areas. But once you’re beyond the literal text, there are no easy answers.

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Esther Kustanowitz

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  • There’s a third approach – the most Jewish one:

    Telling the truth, even if it makes you unpopular.

    Don’t let yourself be boxed into misplaced PC “compassion” and look at the facts. You may have to dust off a heap of accumulated media stardust, but the scientific facts are:

    – STILL no evidence to support the “born that way” claim, after 30+ years of research: no gene or gene cluster, no pattern of heredity (a recent study of identical twins in Australia showed a correlation of around 20 percent – confirming an earlier American study, and virtually proving that gays are made, not born).

    – CLEAR evidence that a majority of gays share a well-defined set of traumatic/damaging experiences in childhood and youth – sexual abuse, poor family relationships, peer wounds – which confirm the “politically incorrect” theories of Freud and others, who described homosexuality as arrested development.

    – GOOD NEWS in the emerging evidence that therapy based on these theories actually works, with success rates similar to therapies for other compulsive, identity-driven pathologies like bulimia. So this also confirms the validity of these theories – which were never disproven, just shouted down (or dropped by people striving to be “compassionate” under the influence of PC manipulation and victim politics).

    – OVERWHELMING evidence that pathological behaviors still persist in the gay “community” – again, 30 years after liberation – including rates of depression and substance abuse that are 4-5 times the rate in the general population.

    – OVERWHELMING evidence that the vast majority of gays conduct their intimate relations in patterns of compulsive promiscuity that are diametrically opposed to any cogent reading of the Torah, and to Judaism’s take on sexual maturity/morality.

    The minority of gay relationships that manage to survive beyond the “lovey-dovey” stage (most liasons last just 18 months or less) are open relationships that accommodate the drive for promiscuity.

    Forget about hair-splitting “textual” analyses.These behaviors are the real problem in “accommodating” homosexuality – Judaism correctly identifies this “lifestyle” as debased, exploitative, and unfulfilling. A maladaptation.

  • Oy, Ben David, this again? Your evidence is interesting but your conclusions so vastly overreach what you are permitted is incredible (of course, the other side may be guilty of this as well and probably is. But burden of proof arguments are boring and hwo really knows how they shiould be settled in this sort of case?)

    1) Not finding a clear gene pattern, or even proving that it isn’t hereditary isn’t sufficient to show that one isn’t ‘born that way’. And how can you consistently call it both not-genetically based AND a maladapation?!? The real tests for heredity are hard to run given that homosexual couples don’t tend to procreate. The twin study data is hard to make sense of: fraternal twins in teh 1991 study were 55% likely to share orientation. Of course, since environment matters to gene expression, who the hell knows what to make of these numbers?!? Who even knows what to expect when there is no clear environmental explanation for what causes (or, for th atmatter suppresses) a genetic tendency such as homosexuality. Plants with genes to be tall don’t get tall if they aren’t exposed to sunlight. You tell the Muffti what numbers to expect, and justify them, and then we can look at that data in a reasonable light.

    Anyhow, there is no reason to thinkt hat homosxuality will have one cause. It may very well have many. Since it is constitutes a lifestyle it would be surprising if different people don’t come to it in different ways. We are in sheer ignorance of what and how makes peopel gay, no matter how much you pretend otherwise. Most of all, we are dealing with a ‘condition’ that is self diagnosed in these cases, which corrupts the data even further.

    2) There is next to no evidence for what you are claiming about ‘the majority of gays’. There isn’t even reliable information in the US about it, never mind internationally. Or at least if there is, it is news to the Muffti and the general scientific community. What is your source on this? If anything, the charge that there is a gay gene/set of genes results from their being no real predictor of homosexuality based on environment that are isolatable. Even the factors you site are sufficient conditions (which Muffti has no reason to believe, cien many abused/alienated kids do not grow up gay), it certainly is not obvious that it is necessary.

    3) The therapy you mentioned is overwhelingly contentious vis a vis the success rate. Its not even clear what success here constitutes: they stop being attracted to members of the same sex? Only after it is granted that such attraction is a bad thing (notice htat so far as Muffti can tell – Reb Yonah, your help is welcome, the prohibition only extends to jews in teh old testament) can we say the therapy is really ‘successful’. Nor do we have any real long term studies on teh success of the therapies you mention even if we grant that homosexuality is something to be cured rather that accepted.

    4) we both knwo that hte substance abuse and depression may have other explanations. Your claim that gays are accepted and tolerated and their lifestyle celebrated is simply not true, and if it is true it is only true of recent times. When a movie as crappy and boring as brokeback mountain can get that much attention for its homosexual content it is a clear sign that we aren’t taking homosexuality to be a run of the mill issue. In any case, what does the correlation tell you about gays at all? Why is it even an interesting correlation? Why shouldn’t our therapy efforts be aimed at curing dperession and substance abuse rather than resteering their sexual orientation?

    Look, Muffti isn’t saying that youa re wrong, just that the evidence we have right now is so shallow and impoverished that we are in the dark about what dermines what and what behaviours are correlated rahter than caused by what. Look online at the studies and at the critiques fo the study: every single one is singled out for methodological criticism, mostly because we don’t know which factors need to be held fixed. Until we do, we shouldn’t be drawing the radical conclusions that you are so anxious to draw.

  • Ben-David, if compassion is “PC,” then I’m as PC as they come. How ridiculous. And have you ever heard any real-life testimonies from actual gay people? Have you seen “Trembling Before G-d” or “And the Band Played On”? I believe the Talmud says that there’s a Torah of lovingkindness and one not of lovingkindness. Have you thought about which one you’re following?

    In any case, the pressing issues surrounding the rights of CHILDREN of gay parents — regardless of individuals’ views of homosexuality — will shine the light on our unwillingness to see this issue as fundamentally one of compassion. Children of gay parents haven’t done anything wrong, they don’t choose their parents, AND they don’t deserve to be taken away from them. That’s really where the un-compassionate, politically incorrect, “tell-it-like-it-is-regardless-of-who-it-hurts” perspective will meet its match.

  • I’m not going to bother with the Ben-David Spew because the rest of you have done a great job.

    One note on the patrilineal decision – the part that’s missing that it’s acceptable for children of patrilineal descent who are on the path of conversion, before bar/bat mitzvah age only. It’s not an open invitation to anyone – it just seems that way.\

    And because I can’t resist, I’ll make one comment on Ben-David’s fun –

    You say there’s overwhelming edvidence of depression and drug abuse in the gay community – you’re right. It’s because people like you tell us that we’re awful, horrible people who are on the path of self-destruction just for the thrill because there must be something wrong with us.

    If you heard that all of your life, you’d get a bit depressed too.

  • Thanks for the clarification on the patrilineal decision, Robbie.

    I’ve already told everyone how I feel about this issue. But I just want to add that I think those therapies are a load of crap.

  • Sorry Esther, I don’t think it is too hard to say that there will never be an easy or real compromise with a Jewish family, Judaism, and a gay lifetsyle.

    But the Conservative Movement and all things gay — hey, that’s a different story. That’s a natural.

  • Oy Muffti – yes, again!

    But before I take down your factual criticisms, and explain my sources – let me point out just how confused, scattershot and internally contradictory your post is… some of the more obvious examples:

    1)you write:
    Not finding a clear gene pattern, or even proving that it isn’t hereditary isn’t sufficient to show that one isn’t ‘born that way’.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Could you please explain how the “born that way” claim and “hereditary” differ? How people can be “born that way” without a genetic trail?

    2)You’re quite right that not all genes get expressed – but genes not present NEVER get expressed. A plant without the genetic code to produce ears of corn never will. So this proves nothing.

    3) Is “born that way” important or not (hint: gay rights activists think it is – it is the lynchpin of their attempt to neutralize the moral and psychological objections to their “lifestyle”)? Then why do you backpedal to a mealy-mouthed “we really don’t know” song-and-dance? And what does that mean about the actual moral/psychological reality? Is it possible that it’s a maladaptation, instead of a “lifestyle” – and still subject to the Torah’s moral judgement?

    Throughout your post you use terms that assume that your theories have already been proven. The words that spring to mind are “solipsism” and “propaganda”.

  • Now the factual rebuttal of Muffti’s post:


    Between the 1970s and the 1990s the organized gay community sponsored studies attempting to prove that homosexuality was a genetic non-choice rather than a volitional behavior subject to moral and psychological scrutiny. (This position is itself contradictory – since schizophrenia, depression, and many other disorders are genetic and “natural” but not normal… )

    The funding was stopped after they came up empty. You can search the internet for “Dean Hamer Gene Study” for information on the 1993 attempt to claim a gay gene – which was riddled with innaccuracy.

    (The lack of evidence did not stop the gay lobby from making the sloppy born-that-way=natural=normal thesis the core of their media juggernaut. Thus was born the coyly misleading Time magazine cover story about the “Gay Gene” – the first in an avalanche of misinformation that has shaped the opinion of many reading this…)

    Not having found any solid genetic trail, the researchers next turned to studies of identical twins. There, too, the results were abysmal – as you noted, correlation between twins for homosexuality was just 55 percent in the largest study, conducted in Montana. A recent Australian study puts the correlation in the high 20s. By comparison, truly genetic traits like eye color have correlation between twins of 99.999 percent, and combines genetic/behavioral traits like diabetes are in the 70-80s. Divorce – hardly a genetic trait – has a HIGHER correlation than homosexuality – mid 60s.

    You may dismiss this as irrelevant – but the entire enterprise of gay normalization asserts that homosexuality is not volitional but “natural”, and leverages that notion to invalidate moral/psychological scrutiny of the actual behavior.

    And here’s a GAY site that rebuts the genetic claims:


    The evidence of pathological behavior comes mainly from several large-scale studies conducted by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and other gay-friendly organizations in the 80s and 90s. The data is clear: the overwhelming majority of gays and lesbians spend most of their adult lives in open liasons that don’t last beyond 18 months-2 years.

    In a telling example of pro-gay “scholarship”, a pair of gay researchers went looking for gay couples. They found only 5-10 percent of gays were able to maintain relationships beyond the 5-year mark – and even those “partnerships” were open to other sexual liasons. In a classical example of the looking-glass world of “gender studies” the researchers rechristened these relationships as “emotionally faithful”. Upon this study further mountains of BS have been built.

    You don’t need any research papers to see that the organizing principle of any gay “community” is anonymous promiscuity – the main features of a “thriving gay community” are its bars, baths, clubs, and sex shops.

    Drugs, alchoholism, and depression have always been part of this promiscuous subculture.

    The standard claim is that these behaviors are a response to “homophobia” – but it is now a generation since gays in many countries won cultural recognition and legal protection, and the behaviors haven’t changed.

    Studies published since 2003 indicate that neither AIDS nor legal normalization have stopped this pattern. The most telling report was issued by the Dutch Ministry of Health: 30 years after normalization of homosexuality, only a handful of Dutch gays avail themselves of the marriage option, and rates of alchoholism, drug abuse, and depression are 4-5 times that of the general population.

    Here’s the abstract of one major article from the Dutch data:

    And here’s a more recent clinical observation on promiscuous gay behavior:

    Muffti – you claim that “at this point we don’t know enough…”

    Freud and other major psychological theorists describe homosexuality as an arrested development, and trace it to three causes:
    1) a specific set of problematic relationship patterns in the childhood home.

    2) peer wounds in childhood and adolescence

    3) sexual molestation.

    Again, large-scale studies by the GMHC and other pro-gay “gender-studies” groups have confirmed that 70-80 percent of out-of-closet homosexuals have one of these causative factors in their histories. For example, the rate of molestation for boys is 7 percent in the general population – but almost 20 percent among declared homosexuals.

    Can homosexuality be treated? Dr Robert Spitzer was the man who led the committee that normalized homosexuality in the American Psychological Association in the 1970s. In the 1990s he conducted a study to debunk the notion that homosexuality could be cured – but he wound up finding just the opposite: motivated people who received real therapy – not holy-roller style wishing-it-away, but real therapy similar to that for bulimia and drug addiction – were able to complete their personality integration, resolve their issues, and function sexually as heterosexuals. Success rates for such programs have been shown to be the same as for parallel treatments.

    The gay lobby and liberal media – which until now had lionized Spitzer – dropped him like a hot potato, and attempted to suppress publication of his paper.

    Here’s a summary of the paper:

    We know that:

    1) The natural=normal public relations line is illogical, and unsupported by evidence – but it is still being used as the major crowbar to leverage good people’s pity for political purpose.

    2) Gays who come out are not happier, or more fulfilled. The vast majority of them lead lives of clear pathology, loneliness, and mutual exploitation.

    3) There is no basis for the underlying assertion that it’s wrong or chauvinistic to critique these dysfunctional behaviors and their moral implications. Real facts and real moral issues are being obscured by the PC sparkle-dust of victimology politics and treacly, mindless calls for “tolerance”.

    Muffti – you backtrack and blur with statements like “we don’t really know what the causes are…” but we DO know enough to justify setting aside the rush to “fix” the Torah, and instead take a hard look at many of the claims put forward by the pro-gay lobby – and at the behaviors we are being asked to condone, and even sanctify.

    None of this is beyond the purview of Judaism, or of the Torah’s moral teaching.

  • Ben-David,
    Muffti appologizes: he forgot just how sharp you are an thus was a bit lazy in his exposition; he hopes you didn’t take that as an insult to your intelligence. Nonetheless, let him explain himself a bit:

    1) First, a conceptual point. You can be ‘born that way’ without having a genetic patttern or anything hereditary. Say that in the womb your mother took a lot of drugs. You may well be born mentally challenged without their being any genetic pattern in your family for retardation. You might not want to diginify that with ‘born that way’, in which case we are just arguing semantics rather than anything interesting as far as Muftti can tell: the point would be that you did nothing to cause your particularly condition. So there is nothing internally contradictory here.

    Second, and more importantly, any condition can in theory have multiple genetic causes, rather than one distinct pattern. Why? Because two genetic patterns X and Y can both independantly raise certain tendencies without having anything to do with eachother. If otherwords, for all we know, homosexuality may supervene on multiple genetic patterns in which case you wouldn’t expect to find one obvious gene or pattern of genes because you wouldn’t expect such commonality – but it would be patently genetic nonetheless. There is nothing incoherent or self contradictory about this. (Though, Muffti admits, there is something scattershot about it). As an example, though not necessarily a real life one, you would NOT think that being rich will be determined by some single gene or heredity, but it may well be that there are genes that control your good looks and your charisma and your intelligence and your wisdom and that any one of these being favourable can increase your tendency to be rich. Of course all sorts of other factors would habve to be in place too (if you don’t live long enough, you won’t be rich, if you don’t eat enough then you won’t have your brain develop, if you aren’t exposed to language, you won’t speak enough to get rich). Nonetheless,t hat would be (hypothetically) a case in which you could predict with some accuracy would owe a partial dependance to genes but you wouldn’t expect a pattern of heredity nor an isolatable single gene or gene cluster.

    Look, all Muffti’s point was is that the relationship between genes and expression is a rather complex one. Obviously it would be near knockdown proof if they found a gay (cluster of/pattern) genes that were present in all and only gay people. NOt finding one, however, is not a knockdown objection.

    2) Muffti agrees: he was only pointing out that even if there was a gay gene that we havne’t located yet, it owuldn’t follow that you get the gene expressed. So the percentage we find in twin studies aren’t very interesting unless a) we know there is no gay gene or b) we know something about what can or cannot keep the gene from being expressed. It wasn’t supposed to prove anything other than that if we don’t know how the gay gene responds to environmental pressure vis a vis expression, we cna’t really use the twin cases to argue either way.

    3) Muffti’s opinion? It is entirely absurd for the gay right activists to tie anything regarding rights to ‘born that way’. It is completely and totally irrelevant. The question is whether or not we should view homosexuals as a group that is fully covered and deserves the rights of heterosexuals (which Muffti obviously thinks, yes!) not how it came about. Obviously being born a particular way doesn’t make it ok (if we could isolate a gene for insantiy we would prseumably fix it and wouldn’t face much of a challenge from the ‘rights for the insane’ crowd). SO Muffti thinks that the question is irrelevant, though he can see why one might want to pin their hopes either way.

    Muffti also thinks that whether or not it is genetic is totally irrelevant to its being subject to the torah’s moral judgment. The torah militates against bastards and clearly that is not up to the baby and he’s born that way (another condition you can be born with without genetic pattern, by the way).

    Muffti didn’t presuppose any theories: he was trying to point out that YOU massively overreach on the basis of very limited evidence and somewhat shoddy considerations. Hence the ‘song and dance’: Muffti’s doesn’t think its very obvious either way whether or not its genetic or even whether or not some people can’t be gay from birth and others gay due to environment. Muffti literally HAS no theory so it can’t be the case that he’s acting as though they are already proven.

    YOU on the other hand have not only theories but a clear agenda. You rely on studies from an instute whose name Muffti forgets but who also clearly have an agenda. That springs to mind the words ‘solipsism’ and ‘propoganda’ just as easily for Muffti.

    If you want Muffti’s real view, its this: we are in no position to tell whether or not gayness comes from genetics, partially or fully and it doesn’t seem like we will be for a long time. The gay community does itself a disservice by caring so much either way. THe medical profession does itself a disservice by being held so hostage to politics. And some day, when we have a better grasp on genetics and the politics have settled down a bit, we’ll get to the truth of that matter and hopefully at that point it won’t matter to anyone but peopel with academic interests.

  • unlike muffti, who said, “Muffti isn’t saying that you are wrong, just that the evidence we have right now is so shallow and impoverished that we are in the dark about what dermines what and what behaviours are correlated rahter than caused by what.” I will go ahead and say it:

    Ben-David, you are wrong.

    I’ll also go you one further and say you’re an idiot.


  • Ok, now for the longer post:

    Ben-David drones on for awhile, but this is one snippet I caught and truly enjoyed:

    We know that:

    1) The natural=normal public relations line is illogical, and unsupported by evidence – but it is still being used as the major crowbar to leverage good people’s pity for political purpose.

    2) Gays who come out are not happier, or more fulfilled. The vast majority of them lead lives of clear pathology, loneliness, and mutual exploitation.

    3) There is no basis for the underlying assertion that it’s wrong or chauvinistic to critique these dysfunctional behaviors and their moral implications. Real facts and real moral issues are being obscured by the PC sparkle-dust of victimology politics and treacly, mindless calls for “tolerance”.

    Oh, the hilarity of it all!

    “GAYS who come out are not happier… The VAST MAJORITY… lead lives of CLEAR PATHOLOGY… and MUTUAL EXPLOITATION!” [emphasis added] Oh, the gays! The GAYS! One touched me once, and I almost caught GAY! *shudders at the thought of being mutually exploitative* Ben-David… do you know any GAYS? Do you try to help them out of their unhappy, unfulfilled, pathological, lonely, exploitative existences? Gee, I hope so. You’re so scientifically minded! And good-spirited!

    My lesbian roommate Jen certainly didn’t seem such a pathetic character, but then again, I must have been totally self-centered not to notice such terrible personality traits in my own roommate! Oh, why oh why, dear G-d, did Jen choose such a deviant lifestyle! Why oh why does she have to travel the path of the truly wicked! Fornicating with members of the same sex and giving them multiple orgasms in one night! Oh, the HORROR of it all! *sobs uncontrollably* If only we had taken her to be cured before the rampant sexual exploitation got out of hand, and she remained in her monogamous relationship for two years! How we would have saved her by eliminating the EVIL IMPULSES and reentering her into NORMAL society, where women are treated with respect and decency! My heart pains. PAINS, Ben-David!

    O! And the “dysfuncitonal behaviors and their moral implications!” How right you are to say that REAL facts and REAL moral issues are being obscured by the G-d forsaken “calls for ‘tolerance!'” If only those PC “crazies” hadn’t been tolerant. If only the GAYS had remained outcasts of society until their disease could be properly cured! I say YES, Ben-David! YES! Let’s ELIMINATE tolerance! Viva la resistance!

    And so, for those looking for more fantastic scientific studies supporting Ben-David’s claims (although it sadly has some Christian overtones, what with the “Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ” slogan) you may visit Exodus. There are some great testimonials which truly get to the heart of the sexual misconduct of GAYS (or “queer-o fags” as I’d like to now refer to them… I mean, HOMOSEXUAL is such a scientific term, giving more fuel to the gay-from-birth theory *yuck!*)


    With the strength of the Torah, we can overcome our nurtured drive for tolerance. Stand strong, warriors! FIGHT THE URGE FOR TOLERANCE!

  • ariela –

    Don’t get caught up their web of deceit, lies, molestation and taffeta ribbon!

    They will take you and give you a makeover if you’re not careful!

  • By the Torah forbidding being gay, one has to conclude, that the Torah considers it a choice.

    Therefore the Torah is advising that one accept their inclination, but still get married.

    Just as some heterosexual men or women would have a predaliction to have sex outside of the marriage.

    Since society now views gays as deserving of full equal rights, we should do the same.

  • Ariella – you’re just jealous because I look better than you in fishnet tights.

  • Ben David,

    Yeah, muffti does dismiss most of it as irrelevant because it is irrelevant. There is obviously no clear argument from something being natural to it being good (if psychopathy was genetic, no one would by those means argue that it was good or acceptable) just as (and here is the kicker) there is no clear argument from something being environmental to it being bad. So, yes, Muffti thinks that it is irrelevant and one shouldn’t violate the naturalistic fallacy by going from nature to normative in either direction.

    Nonetheless, Muffti doesn’t really see the force of your ‘factual rebuttal’. The twins study is irrelevant because you are comparing apples and oranges. Something’s having a genetic base and having a phenotypic trace are two entirely different matters. Given that there is a conspiring between nature and environment which leads to gene expression, it is an entirely non-trivial matter to figure out what numbers you should expect. What we know about eye colour is that environment plays very little role in suppressing or encouraging its expression. One may as well argue the opposite: 55% is a rather high correlation given the low expectation of homosexuality if it was an entirely environmental affair. The real point is that we aren’t very sure what to make of the numbers at all in these cases. So they are irrelevant and it is not clear what their point is.

    The attack on scholarship, furthermore, misses the point. Muffti was trying to avoid burden of proof arguments but you’vemade that next to impossible so here it is: attacking one side’s positive arguments does not equal a positive argument on your side.

    Muffti doens’t understand your point at all about homosexual behavioural patterns: we can argue day and night about whether or not society is intolerant and surely you canpointn to growing tolerance. But od you reallly think it is very hard for Muffti to point out massive examples of intolerance?!? Lack of acceptance? Seriously, the fact that it is an open question in yours (and obviously) many peopole’s mind whether or not it is a sickness rather than an acceptable lifestyle is straightforward evidence that homosexuality hasn’t acheived a measure of tolerance that their straight counterparts have. The fact that amendments to teh consitution are being proposed specifically to avoid legalizaing gay marriage is an example of that intolerance. Muffti’s parents would become apoplectic if they thought their son was gay (and this is form Canada, a relatively tolerant society!) You may claim the intolerance is justified, but it is there nonetheless and to think that you would expect equal numbers of cases of depression etc. is absurd.

    As for ‘therapy’, the summary of hte study you cite itself has an interesting point in the ‘shortcomings’ section:

    Not a random sample nor a controlled study. Also, 78% of the subjects had spoken or written publicly in favour of efforts to change. The results can therefore not be applied to same-sex-attracted people in general, nor is one able to determine the effectiveness of different types of therapy. Dr. Spitzer had neither of these as his goals in doing this research, and they do not affect the validity of the results.

    So, essentially, you had people who were unhappy as homosexuals reporting being happier with some level of therapy that seemsto have turned them into heterosexuals. You really take this to be a point that can generalize to the community at large!??

    As for the presence of those factors that you cite in the causal history of the development of sexual identity, Muffti can find little corroborating evidence. He certainly knew a lot of gay people when he lived in Montreal (his girlfriend at the time found a cheap place in the gay village, and so Muffti found himself trecking through there an awful lot) and knew an awful lot of homosexual men and women who grew up in ‘normal’ environments. Most of the ones he knew who had been emotionally abused had suffered under fathers who wanted them to be more ‘manly’. this is all anecdotal of course, but Muffti can find no reliable, international studies that support what you are saying. Furthermore, the factors you site are awfully vague at best and obviously subject to common cause considerations: peer wounds? Do you really think that young people who express gay tendencies of any sort aren’t likely to suffer peer/social wounds as a result?!? As far as Muffti can tell the ‘specific set of problematic relationships’ are not specific at all. You can criticize gay scholarship all day long but please take a look at your sources on this.

    In the end, however, Muffti isn’t really sure what the issue is here. The causes of something and its ethical status/medical status are obviously separate issues. Taysachs is genetic but not a good thing; Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda is not naturally found but it’s a great thing. Most of all, Muffti doens’t really see why the issue of naturalness is germane to whether we ought to fix the torah: as he noted before, being a mamzer is clearly not a matter of choice but something the torah is happy to rule on.

    In any case, let the Muffti make somethig clear: he is not backpeddling at all and he wishes you would stop saying that as it makes him think you aren’t really reading what the Muffti is saying. Muffti line is perfectcly consistent and can be boiled down to three points:

    1) We don’t know enough about the causes of homosexuality to speculate about whether it is genetic, environmental or some complex interaction between the two (which Muffti imagines is most likely) [or even if there are multiple causes: perhaps some peopel choose and some don’t. Our categories don’t distinguish these two possibilities].

    2) The answer to that question is irrelevant to settle religious and ethical matters, though perhaps in the long run in will be relevant to settling medical matters.

    3) The burden of proof is on someone who wants to deny homosexual the full rights they seem to deserve.

    The piecemeal schoalrship you are offering is about as scattershot as one could want and it is no surprise that homosexual relations are described as ‘understudied’ by psychologists such as SW Duck. It certainly does not settle (1) or (2). And Muffti has seen no good argument for settlig (3) the way you obviously would lke to settle it.

    By the way, just to remind all y’all, there is an easy answer to what to do about the torah saying such ridiculous things as that the act of homosexual sex is wrong, that mamzers are unholy enough to allow into your community, and one that doesn’t involve ‘fixing’ anything. It’s called atheism….

  • And by the way, Ben David, Ariela has some nice legs…if you think you look better in fishnets, it’s clearly you who needs the therapy… 😉

  • Muffti – at last we agree on something! You wrote:

    Muffti also thinks that whether or not it is genetic is totally irrelevant to its being subject to the torah’s moral judgment.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    .. I agree, but the rest of the world doesn’t. (and I’d love to find out just what you think the Torah’s opinion is of “communities” focused on baths, bars, and biceps…)

    More precisely, you’re reading it backwards: For centuries Judeo-Christian (and most other!) societies have judged the BEHAVIOR of homosexuality – whether genetic or not – to be morally and socially deficient, and damaging to both the individual that indulges in it and the society that tolerates it.

    In order to kosher an aberrant behavior and bring it in to the consnsus, it is necessary to make people think being gay is like eye-color – a “born-that-way” trait to which moral judgements do not apply. It’s then a hop, skip, and a jump to victimology politics and getting good-hearted people like yourself to feel sorry for poor oppressed former-pathologicals.

    Sure, when faced with the facts your not fool enough to deny them – but’s that’s the endgame. See how it works?

    The first step is to slip the bonds of that evaluation of pathology – or morality. And that’s why the gay lobbyists – and you! – spend so much time on the issue, then retreat when defeated into blather about how it really doesn’t matter.

    It really doesn’t matter because much of your generation has already been brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is normal – and the majority that still doesn’t believe so has been cowed by heavy-handed application of those left-liberal favorites: baiting and denouncing of those who point out inconvenient facts, rather than answering their claims.

    This is what you are doing when you claim I am drawing my evidence from some “institute whose name I can’t remember” when in fact EVERY article I linked to and EVERY study I quoted has appeared in a mainstream refereed professional journal.

    You’re right – I have an agenda. That agenda is to use the Torah as my moral yardstick. I have lived most of my life in New York, spent a good chunk of time in London, and now travel to major cities as part of my work. I’ve had gay coworkers and neighbors, and observed the gay scene, and have had personal experience of the process of “coming out” in my own family – that is, I am not taken in by the attempt to hide the degradation and loneliness of gay life behind Ellen Generes and the carefully-groomed, Talbots-wearing lesbians that the media presents.

    The more I see, the more convinced I am that the Torah is correct in its assessment of homosexuality – that this “lifestyle” is exploitative, emotionally and spiritually stunting, and in no way reconcilable with the Torah’s healthier take on human sexuality.

    But enough about me – since you admit that we needn’t resolve the genetic issue to apply Torah values, DO tell me:

    – exactly how does accepting the REAL gay scene of compulsive promiscuity jibe in any way with the Torah?

    – Is it the Torah’s vision that is deficient here, and in need of change? Or should a Jew’s role be to oppose this moral devolution, even though it’s carefully cloaked in the mantle of “progress” and sprinkled with the pixie dust of “tolerance for diversity”?

    Yes, let’s really cut to the heart of the issue. Do you have eyes in your head? Have you not noticed that the nice gay man in the apartment next door seems to switch “life long loves” every year or so – and brings other guys home in between? Have you never flipped through the Village Voice or other papers, and seen what the focus is on?

    People so puffed up with the *frisson* of their own *sophistication* that they fail to see the rather shitty reality of gay life.

    So: how does the data – and the ads, and the bars, the circuit clubs, and the clubs – the drugs and depression – how does that jibe with Torah?

    Do you really think it is the Torah that should change to accommodate such behavior?

  • Jobber –

    Nowhere in the Torah does it prohibit anyone from being gay.

    All it prohibits is male-male anal sex.

  • Sorry – again, I didn’t see that the previous post went through…

  • Let’s say they prove that being gay is genetic. How does that change things? It doesn’t. I’m pretty sure that all the testosterone in my system has something to do with my interest in women. However, it’s completely inappropriate for me to go around introducint people to the woman that I’m having sex with but am not married to. If H’ didn’t think that people had inclinations to do certain things, there would simply be no reason for it to be in the Torah. Since the Torah says it’s not OK for mem to lay with other me, that implicitly means that H’ understands that certain people do desire to do just that. We all have to fight against things we want to do but shouldn’t. I’m not saying sexuality is equivalent to palate, but I can’t go and get a pepporoni pizza anymore than I can go act and have sex with anyone. Those among us who are gay, just have a big challenge in life and they aren’t the only ones who don’t have an easy time out of life.

  • The Torah prohibits to sleep as w/ a woman. That would include touching, kissing, etc… in a tender way. You have to learn out from this, that there can be no male male contact of that nature.
    No gay marriage also.

    The question is, is this undue cruelty to people. we also have a concept of kavod Habrios. The Torah allows many things to be done, that are violations bec. of Kavod Habrios. The question here is would Ha-shem have created people and then not allow them to have any comforts in life?

    Only if you believe that being gay is NOT a choice. Then the disparity is too great and gay people would not want anything to do w/ Torah. But we say Torah is for all Jews, that every Jew has a chelek in Torah.

    So the only conclusion is that the Torah considers it a choice.

  • wow, I read up too about post 10 or so then skimmed a bit so you’ll forgive me if I say whats been said. Ben-David brings up very valid points, with a great deal of factual evidence and logic. I would like to see the other sides evidence instead of calling him a big meanie. I think it makes a world of evidence depending on the etiology of homosexuality. Mufti, in your arguement saying that perhaps its not genetic but possibly some sort of prenatal environmenal change/exposure, then technically it would fall undera syndrome (i.e. fetal alcohol syndrome) and thus be viewed as a mutation or negative trait.

  • The question here is would Ha-shem have created people and then not allow them to have any comforts in life?

    I don’t think God would. And I know that no matter how hard I try, I’m still gay. It’s not something I can change.

    And if we believe that God makes no mistkakes in creation, then I’m exactly the way I’m supposed to be. And as much as you’d like to think that no one gay can be, I’m religious, too. Shomer mitzvot and everything.

    And like you all I want out of life is to get married, raise kids in a Jewish home and help make the world a better place. I’m just gonna do all that with a husband and not a wife.

  • I agree with Ben-David and Todd. I am one of the silent non-Orthodox Jews. However I might think about becoming Orthodox, the way the world is going.

  • Sorry, Muffti was away for a day. OK, let’s see:
    Ben David:
    You said;

    More precisely, you’re reading it backwards: For centuries Judeo-Christian (and most other!) societies have judged the BEHAVIOR of homosexuality – whether genetic or not – to be morally and socially deficient, and damaging to both the individual that indulges in it and the society that tolerates it.

    Muffti agrees: of course homophobia was the norm for a long time. That the gay movement decided to tie the fate of their struggle to genetics was just silly and obviously purely speculative. A better argument is this: the fact that homosexuality has been viewed suspiciouly in the past doesn’t make it right, ok, or acceptable. The fact that black cats have traditionallly been loooked upon as bad luck doesn’t make that an acceptable belief for a rational, evidence weighing person to have.

    Muffti’s point is that the history doesn’t suffice for creating a burden of proof. So, while the history may explain gay attempts to locate sexual orientation in the genes, it doesn’t seem to be provide any good normative reason why they should have to do so. While Muffti doesn’t buy much of the research you are citing nor the conclusion you are drawing (or, in some cases, its relevance) it at least has the right idea: do the science first and then find out what is genetically based. As for your source, Muffti recalls NARTH being one of the central repositories of information. That is an organization with an agenda, clearly. But Muffti doesn’t want to engage in ad hominems. He just thought it was unfair of you to charge Muffti with spreading propoganda and the like when all Muffti was doing was the perfectly valid activity of criticising some of your arguments. He also thinks it unfai that you keep accusing him of backpeddling, etc. He isn’t presenting a view, but he has some question about the data and conclusions you draw that he thinks are fair questions.

    – exactly how does accepting the REAL gay scene of compulsive promiscuity jibe in any way with the Torah?

    Not well, obviously. Muffti is willing to agree completely that the Torah is clearly anti-gay behaviour and by extension promiscuous gay behaviour. Muffti thinks that we can both agree that that isn’t an open question.

    – Is it the Torah’s vision that is deficient here, and in need of change? Or should a Jew’s role be to oppose this moral devolution, even though it’s carefully cloaked in the mantle of “progress” and sprinkled with the pixie dust of “tolerance for diversity”?

    That’s a complicated question with no easy answer. Muffti thinks that there is an oddity here: you keep trying to read the torah as though it is opposed to gay lifestyle, but so fa as Muffti can tell, the Torah is opposed to man on man (or more men?) sex. It say svery little about the other aspects of gay life. In other words, we can imagine easily people who engage in homoeroticism who don’t lead the lifestyle. The torah’s view about this is fairly clear: they are as guilty of toayvah as someone who lives a fully gay lifestyle. Muffti clearly thinks that the torah gets this wrong: he can’t really bring himself to believe that there is something intrinsically wrong with teh very act of homoerotic sex and notice that all the facts you site are not really about the act itself but about gay communities etc. Muffti thinks that a Jew’s role here, at least one who wants to follow the letter of the law, is to not engage in homosexual sex. He doesn’t think, however, that it is a Jew’s task to interfere in the lives of others or actively oppose people’s lifestyle choices. Muffti also doesn’t think taht it’s a Jew’s task to make sure that no kids are being boiled in their mother’s milk, though he should do his best to avoid partaking in such activities. But Muffti is no rabbi so he feels awfully uncomfortable taking his opinion to have much authority.

    Yes, let’s really cut to the heart of the issue. Do you have eyes in your head? Have you not noticed that the nice gay man in the apartment next door seems to switch “life long loves” every year or so – and brings other guys home in between? Have you never flipped through the Village Voice or other papers, and seen what the focus is on?

    Muffti is not against promiscuity, though he realizes that the Torah certainly seems to be. For what it’s worth, Muffti dated a girl who lived with a gay man in the gay community of montreal. Anecdotely, Muffti saw an awfully wide range of behavious from the promsicuity that the gay community is so well stereotyped for to loving gay couples whose relationships were monogamous and so far as Muffti could tell long lasting. There was no uniformity to it really; and frankly, Muffti noticed the not surprising fact that young gay men tended to party rather hard while older gay men tended to be more settled and happy to have long term partners. As far as promiscuity goes, if society endowed females with male sex drives and the typical male drive to have multiple partners, you would see exactly the same thing in teh straight community. The reason for gay promiscuity in males, as far as Muffti could tell, was that both sides had male sex drives and male desires to ‘spread their seed’. Furthermore, Muffti anecdotely noticed a much stronger tendency towards monogamy and lasting relationships in his age group amongst lesbians. The gay roomate himself was rather promiscuous when Muffti first met him but when he was leaving montreal 4 years later he seemed to be engaging in longer term relationships. All this however is anecdotal; muffti is no expert on homosexuality and no expert on gay lifestyles. The village voice is aimed at a particular age group with particular interests. Why you think it is ok to generalize from that to the entire gay community is well beyond the Muffti.

    Anyhow, if you are asking whether or not the torah should change to accomodate such behaviour, Muffti’s answer is a qualified ‘probably’. Though his understand of torah suggests that it self-prohibits changing either by addition or subtraction so he isn’t really sure ofthe point of the question.

  • DiGiTal said:

    Mufti, in your arguement saying that perhaps its not genetic but possibly some sort of prenatal environmenal change/exposure, then technically it would fall undera syndrome (i.e. fetal alcohol syndrome) and thus be viewed as a mutation or negative trait.

    No, D, Muffti is afraid that this is entirely confused. Muffti said that there might be some complex interaction between the environment and genetics. But it doens’t follow that anything is a maladaption: you may have genetic tendencies to be fat but excersize and diet keep you at a healthy weight. It wouldn’t follow from this that being a healthy weight is a maladaption or an abberation. If we can keep the gene for taysachs fro being expressed, you would not consider that a maladaptation. So, no, your inference is a rather shaky one.

  • Robbie, I just want to ask you a question, please forgive me for being so provincial. I never meet gay persons. I just wanted to know, when you see a beautiful woman, do you have any thoughts that she is very hot and so on? If you were to find yourself alone w/ her, is there no way that you would desire her physically?

  • Jobber-

    I recognize that they’re attactive or hot, but no, nothin’ doin’ when push comes to shove.

    And it’s not for lack of trying.

  • Jobber —

    I can say almost with 100% certainty that you do indeed meet and/or encounter gay persons on a regular basis. Statistically speaking, I mean.

  • Robbie, I don’t mean that you would push come to shove right now feel a desire to be w/ them, but if you are so very orthodox, I would think, that you realize that you cannot at this time, expect to be accpted as a gay man in almost any community. Even if you married a gay man, it is true that if you had children, there would likely possibly be some friends they would have, but there would also be parents who would not accept this. Whether or not this is justified, or correct frum behavior, i am only suggesting that you would be inflicting such additional problems on your children, that they would not find in a different holistic and open community.
    So it would seem to me, that just like for example many men have to tame their sexual proclivity and/ or specific desires in a hetero setting based on their wives desires and tones, you would be able to do so, for the sake of your frumkeit I would think, I wouldn’t say this to any other person who was not so frum as you have stated.

    In a frum context, what people are trying to get accross is that there are many behaviors that they have to curtail and supress. How is this any different really?

    Ariela, I know that i meet them, but I do not think, ah he is gay actually. what i meant was that I do not have this type of conversation w/ anyone for that matter.

  • Whoa there, Jobber. I’m not orthodox. You incorrectly assumed that because I’m observant I’m one of them. But, nope. I’m (now a bit sad to say that I’m) one of those people waiting to go to Rabbinical School at JTS or UJ.

    So here’s the thing: No matter where I go or what I do, there’s always going to be someone else out there who thinks that I’m sick and disgusting – even though I may simply be in a committed relationship.

    And when it comes to children, I’d want to teach them how to be the best possible people they can, and surrounding ourselves with people who hate me or them because of who their parents are – well, that’s something I would use all of my power to avoid. Simply enough, that’s not a community worth living in, and they aren’t people worth knowing – no matter how “compassionate” they may claim to be. Blind hatred is still blind hatred.

    You talk about “curtail[ing] and suppress[ing]” certain behaviors – are you under the impression that someone who is gay would have sex in their front yard for all the neighbors to see? Or is it just simply walking down the street and holding hands that is too “out there” for you? I have no desire for anyone – especially my kids and neighbors – to know what I do behind the closed doors of my bedroom.

    But they’ll know that there’s a gay couple who’s committed to each other and Judaism, who may be seen together or even – gasp – seen kissing like any other couple – and that’s something they are going to have to deal with.

    But then again, they’ll probably move away from the neighborhood when we move in.

  • Sorry I had thought you were Orthodox. If you are Conservative or Reform, I don’t think there would be an issue. I could care less, what 2 adults do on their own. I have seen gay people holding hands in some cities, in Amsterdam, I saw quite alot of this actually when I was there recently.
    It had no bearing on me owoto.

    My point was that for someone wanting to be Orthodox, they have to accept many barriers to their feelings and desires, that they would not have to deal w/ if they were frei’.

    Sorry about the misunderstanding, it is an important distinctions you are correct.

  • Hey, if happiness were a requirement to prove part of your life “right” then Jews are in trouble. How many happy Jews do you know?

    From a happy, lesbian Jew


  • Ben David, you obviously know very little concerning human genetics. While the human genome project has concluded it’s mapping of the human genome, they currently understand what less than 1% of the genetic material codes for. So they know the order that adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine occur in (those are the nucleic acids that are the building blocks of DNA) but they have not a clue what most of it does. So who is to say that being gay is a genetic abnormality or not?

    In addition, aren’t you being more than a little bit judgemental? You are most definately entitled to your own opinion. Personally, I don’t understand homosexuality. I am a scientist and it makes very little logical sense to me. But who am I to pass judgement on someone else? If a homosexual man or women chooses to live the life of a Jew, I have no right to stop them. They should not be blocked from places of worship or ostricized from society. I personally believe that being gay is NOT a choice for most people. It is how G-d made them.

    Has anyone ever bothered to consider that maybe G-d places certain people in this world to test what we should’ve learned as dedicated Torah students? No where in the Torah does it sanction the treatment of people like many gays are treated, sometimes at the hands of their own families. If it is a test, we as a culture are flunking miserably.

  • so, my question after all this debate about gays and who’s gay, what’s it mean to be gay, is this: now what are Conservative Jews supposed to think? One of the things that I think plagues CJ is it’s conflicting socially aware liberalism and it’s adherence to halacha. I think it’s gotten to us, hence the disappointing numbers, blah blah blah (I don’t like numbers…strength is strength, not in numbers). The whole contradiction is right in the depth of the Gay Rabbi debate.

    …so, what do we think now?

  • Yup, Andrew, you are right on the mark. I think that in many ways this decision fundametally touches on the foundation and meaning of Conservative Judaism.

    This is one of the reasons they are better off postponing this decision for a while. It’s better not to have a position because I do believe they’re in a lose-lose proposition here.

  • I will probably be hated for this, but I think Conservative Judaism is for commitment-phobes. I think it take balls to be an observant Jew. I don’t like the word “orthodox.” I think it offends some people. Anyways, I think it takes guts, especially if you are not raised in that lifestyle. The conservatives are just confusing. That is a good question though, what about a gay Rabbi? I don’t really think I know enough, but I’m sure other people do. What does Muffti have to say about this?

  • Danielle…being a lifelong (though I guess that’s a bit of an understatement, as I’m not that old) CJ, I gotta disagree. I love my movement. It provides me options. Too many options, but options nonetheless. One of the best things about CJ is that it leaves you room to think. Not that Orthodoxy doesn’t, but it’s in a different manner. Commitment and observance is HUGE in Conservative Judaism…it’s just that most of them haven’t committed.

    Not to incite another Conservative Judaism post or anything.

    But you’re right middle — this is a total lose-lose situation. And it’s a lose-lose situation by stalling delaying the process.

  • I don’t agree Andrew. I don’t think you can pick and choose what mitzvahs you follow. You either believe halacha is binding or you don’t. Believe me, I am no observant Jew. Heck I’m just confused in what exactly I believe. But I don’t see the community and passion in Reform and Conservatives movements as I do in the observant Jews. Granted, this may be because I live in the midwest and there aren’t exactly a whole lot of Jews to begin with. But all the Reform and CJ shuls I have checked out have been totally watered down Judaism. They go through the motions, they eat matzo balls and have bar mitzvahs. No one really seems to have a deep spiritual connection though. They are too busy staring at the Rabbi’s legs! (The shul I grew up in was a reform one, and the Rabbi was a lovely women, very sweet and well learned. But she would wear these skirts and high heals and that is ALL the men would talk about. Not getting a whole lot of Torah learning accomplished.)

    If the CJ movement makes you happy, that is cool. I suppose practicing some mitzvahs is better than none. I just think there is something missing. I think a lot of young Jews feel that way today.

  • Danielle, CJ isn’t about picking and choosing. Sure, there’re different streams of CJ (oy vey), that say different things about CJ (double oy vey). But, on paper, and I guess that’s what it all comes down to, it’s all strict adherence. The same reason that those communities don’t gel together is because of all the perceived options that CJ has.

    There’s strict adherence to observance in CJ. It’s just that CJews started to fly away from it because of, in a way, the perceived notion that all the ammendments that CJ has done were assimilation. If they’re assimilating, why can’t we? So…they drive on Shabbos, do all the rest of the things they do. CJ isn’t about picking and choosing what mitzvahs you gotta do. It’s about allowing you the advantage of applying modernity to traditional Judaism. That’s the core of it. What other people do…that’s just the secular world working into their lives.

    In terms of younger Jews, there’s a small but growing number of kids my age that are Conservative and interested in being a CJ. In being observant. We’re small, but we believe in it all. That includes the gay community within CJ. My problem now is what do I think as a CJew with the fact that they’re against letting that community, however small or large it is, get closer to God by becoming a spiritual leader.

  • I definately see your point Andrew, although I still have my own personal opionions on the conservative movement. I do think that having gay and lesbian leaders is a very “hot” issue right now. It also raises another question. According to halacha, a child born to a Jewish father and a gentile woman is not a Jew. This always got my goat because many would say that I am not a Jew because my father was and my mother was not. Nevermind the fact that I was raised in a Jewish home with Jewish holidays and Jewish worship…so on. How would the issue be handled with gay and lesbian parents? For example, if a Jewish woman and another Jewish woman were a couple and decided to use a sperm bank to have a child, would the kid be Jewish? Or what about if two men decided to adopt? Further more, how is adoption handled? I’ve actually never heard the answer to this. If you are adopted by two Jewish parents, are you Jewish?

  • Danielle, you’re absolutely right. Tough questions. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    I better see a large post on this come December!

  • I agree with Muffti who also thinks that whether or not it is genetic is totally irrelevant to its being subject to the torah’s moral judgment.