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« Tales from the Darkside | Main | Andy Hardy Buys an iPhone »

June 26, 2007


I agree; I feel similarly about the angry homophobic Christians (they make us look bad) and also the angry homophobic African-Americans (they make us look ignorant), who are doing more damage, I think, because the African-American LBGT community could use a little more social support. It's a conflict; I love "my people" with all my heart, but there are some who cling to old ideals that don't make sense...

I admire your courage to share in the blogosphere this dirty laundry (my term). I have been working on a post covering the same topic the past few days, and have been passing it to a couple friends for their reviews, edits, and “permissions” to post. Discussing the problems and behaviors you cite is painful.

I know a bit about Israel’s LGBT community issues and achievements in the context of zealous rule by orthodox and ultra-orthodox rabbis and parliamentary parties. By invitation of a Jerusalem friend, a gay man, I participated in their organizations’ Tu B'Shvat plantings, Shabbat services, a celebration when the Israel Supreme Court ruled that a lesbian couple could legally adopt each other's children, and other events.

Jerusalem, too, has a thriving orthodox and ultra-orthodox LGBT population, not all of them out, of course! Many of these folks I met in the events I listed. Others I met, mostly at Jerusalem’s Open House, include LGBT Arab-Israelis, foreign workers, and tourists. (Non sequitur: I recommend seeing “Paper Dolls / Bubot Niyar,” a film related to this topic.)

On the charming act of unity between ultra-orthodox rabbis and Muslim clerical leaders, I want to include the Pope who pontificated on the "abomination" of the march, the marchers, and more.

Like all groups, the ultra orthodox community seeks homogeneity in members’ thought, dress, reading material, décor, interests, and so on. As you know, passing judgment on others, including other Jews, goes beyond judging-condemning their sexual orientation (when it is not straight).

An example: recently my first cousin, who lives in Jerusalem with her husband and most of her 13 kids (two are married, three learn in yeshivot) refused my invitation to join my other cousins on a professionally guided tour of Tel Aviv that I organized. The reason? She couldn’t expose her children to people in that city because they dress “immodestly.”

Relentlessly resisting the intolerance and its perpetrators is required. So is practicing the truths of democracy and human rights in our daily lives. Thanks to the courage your post gave me, I’ve given myself until Shabbat to procrastinate on posting mine;-)

P.S. I went to your synagogue's web site and was delighted to read about this wonderful community. Check out Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta, similarly founded, populated, and bustling!

What a well written post. I was raised Catholic, but my mother also taught me to question everything. I questioned myself right out of any kind of organized religion. I know that it works really well for some people and I'm glad it's there for them. I just can't get past the dogma that condemns homosexuality among many other things.

Wonderful post, Danny--so lucid and, minor rants aside, tolerant. (Hey, none of us can Be the Change all at once.)

Like churlita, I was raised Catholic but (oddly, b/c most Catholics aren't into this) taught to do my own research and come to my own conclusion.

That conclusion was that my beloved, agnostic, Jewish gramma was more Christ-like than any Christian I ever met. Once I got some perspective (age has its uses, huh?) I realized that the only Way I"m interested in is tolerance. And let's just say that I have a long way to go in that department, since I still blow my f**king stack when I read stories like this.

What did I say before? Oh, yeah: Be the Change.


oh my my my...I just found you, tracked you down from the trail of crumbs you left on my blog-and I wanna say: were we separated at birth????????

Great post. There's so much here I can't begin.

As usual, Danny, a great post. I am extremely wary of any type of orthodoxy. Like a number of your commenters, I believe in being tolerant, but one thing of which I am intolerant is intolerance. Does it make sense?

Great! Intolerance based on hate, in any form, is bad for everybody. Tell me about it, I live in the Southeastern US. There are wonderful people here, but we definitely get the intolerance backed by religion P.O.V. thrown in the mix. The most shocking is when it comes out of the mouths of the "sweet" little old ladies.

What a good post. I think, despite a lot of evidence around of intolerance there is a growing intolerance of intolerance. I see it more and more among young people and at the grassroots level.

And Jewish people do have a wonderful historical tradition of working to make the world more just. This makes me very proud of our family's tiny bit of Jewish heritage--mixed in with the snobby slack (but well-meaning)Episcopal tradition.

Hi there,

I just happened upon your blogs by mistake - I was actually trying to find out what happened to Ed Gagliardi (Ex Member of Foreigner. Heard he played with a band called 'Garbo Talks' and this lead me to your site! I used to love Foreigner, heard they were touring again and wondered if he would be re-uniting with them. Seems to have just disappeared into the ether ... pity. He was by far the cutest member of the band! So, if anyone knows anything about Ed... Please post something to let me know what he does now. Curiosity!). Anyway, just had to say, I found your blogs on Israel and the differing Jewish Religious and political spectrum interesting to a non-jew. I always was confused by the Orthodox violence and denial of Jesus as a Jew, etc. I suppose every religion has it's extremists and zealots. There are still many things I don't get about the Jewish Religion and politics (especially that concerning Israel and Palestine - but then, I don't think anyway understands this whole crazy scenario). Thoughts for the day 'Religion and Politics never mix', and, 'Empathy, acceptance & Diplomacy = Peace'.

When I researched parental acceptance of gays and lesbians, I asked my rabbi (black hat, beard, a tzadik and a genius) what the hat opinion was on homosexuality. "What are the issues in the holy land?" I asked.

He said that THE THINKING IN ISRAEL (this was 2000-2001) was that gay men were exempt from the mitzvot of marrying and having children. There was definitely an understanding that this was not something they could or should do, and the sentiment was not of hate, rather pity.

So maybe it's the pride thing that the rabbis aren't ready for. The hate mongers aren't the top thinkers in Israel, that's for sure.

I live in Boston, where we have an organization called Keshet, for gay/lesbian/bi/etc. Jews. I am happy to see this post.

Good post. The ultra-Orthodox are a minority in Israel, though. A vocal one (on some issues more than others) but still a minority. I'm a British olah in Tel Aviv - I'm not gay so I don't know the scene too well but I see gay and lesbian couples openly out on the streets here all the time, I've seen a large international gay, lesbian and transgender festival here (not connected with Pride) and just like in London, lots of straight people turned up to Pride because it's, well, a good day out.

The problem in Israel is, IMO, about the lack of pluralism within Judaism. I come from a UK Reform background (my Rabbi was openly gay now I come to think of it) and it's been hard to find a shul in Israel - people here are either "religious" i.e. "Haredi" or "secular". What about the rest of us?! More action and encouragement needed to support the Reform and Masorti movements here is needed. Pluralism helps breed tolerance.

I just read your blog, and thought I might share my response to an e-mail I received regarding last year's parade. The original e-mail is at the bottom.

BTW, the cousin to whom I refer is herself ultra-Orthodox, and was planning on marching in the parade with her gay brother. No one in her community could know, of course.

Subject: RE: Women, Urgent Plea ofTehillim !!

Dear Anita,

I know that you are a friend of my cousin, and that she has tremendous admiration for you, but I must respectfully ask that you remove my name from your mailing list. I resent being asked to use my faith to further hatred and intolerance. The Judaism I believe in might well interpret your request as the abomination.

Shabbat Shalom,

Urgent Plea to all Women of Israel!
Women around the world will be reciting Psalms during the next two days starting Friday through Shabbos for the Admor m'Gur (Gerer Rebbe)Rabbi Yakov (Yankel) Aryeh Alter, shlita,Our intention is to pray to Hashem for Him to bestow upon Rabbi Yakov (Yankel) Aryeh Alter, shlita the valiant courage & leadership needed to successfully guide us with strength to stop the Homosexual Abomination Festival planned to take place this summer (August) in our Holy City of Jerusalem.
The Rebbe has a big following to AND MUST STOP the obscene parade of perversion & abomination, scheduled for our Holy City!!
Women worldwide are asked to recite appropriate Psalms for him and to
preserve the continued sanctity of our Holy City which is being threatened by this upcoming travesty.
Please send this to all the caring women you know.
May Hashem bless His people with Peace.
Because of righteous women we were redeemed from Egypt & because of
righteous women we will once again be redeemed!!!

Yep. Love is more powerful than hate.

I feel the same way about fundamentalist Christian attitudes towards the gays in this country. All the trivial controversy over gay marriage, for example. Who cares? Aren't there greater problems in the world that we ought to be focusing on? Not that I think that gays are a problem at all. What is threatening about them? They are as dangerous as a puppet show at a street market! Just walk away, people, if you don't like the show. Frankly, I find it a refreshing break from "normalcy".
Sadly, it is our leader, living under the rule of separation of church and state, that is advocating this segregation. And, as a Christian-born American, it baffles me and angers me that we allowed him to stay in office for another term. What does that say about the majority of our nation? Is our country really so full of narrow-minded, eye-for-an-eye Christians? What happened to "Judge not lest ye be judged"?

Ok, I'd better not get going on this or I'll never stop!
There ought to be better laws put in place in Israel tho, to protect the gays. They may have their faults but they are no more sinful than any other human being who walks this earth.

Thank you for a beautifully written post. It was just what I needed to read today.

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