With each passing year, greater numbers of gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews are voicing their desire to remain part of the Orthodox Jewish community – and their peers and loved ones are standing by their sides. Contrary to the rhetoric and actions displayed by many among our leadership in recent decades, it is time for an intentional, joint change of tone, one that retains in a halakhically true fashion gay and lesbian Jews who wish to be part of the fabric of Orthodox Jewish communal life.
Authored by Ohr Torah Stone President and Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander – a rabbi, educator and social activist with decades of experience in communal and educational leadership in both the United States and Israel – with words of introduction by Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, the article frames a deeply necessary yet all-too-often ignored conversation for Jewish communal leaders, parents, extended family and friends of how we must relate to, and engage with, gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews.
It serves as an honest look at both our traditional halakhic sources and our contemporary communal dynamics, and calls for a change in attitude towards gay and lesbian Jews within our communal institutions, including our synagogues, day schools, and yeshivot.u00a0 This article is motivated by the firm belief and halakhic precedent that even Jews who we think may act in ways that might be different to a complete halakhically traditional lifestyle deserve to feel at home within the Orthodox and greater Jewish community. The article advocates that this is our halakhic responsibility as a Jewish community that promotes respect, unity and understanding and must be viewed as part of a critical investment in ensuring opportunities for all Jews to connect with community and the divine.