As I recently blogged in great detail, the modern (only 50 years old) rabbinic position about Gays is completely indefensible. It holds that homosexual men (when we dealt with their mistreatment, the position of other GLBTQAIs will be easier to clarify) should not have any sex all their lives and certainly not a steady same-sex relationship.
Despite rejection by their teachers, most religious Jews in Israel approve of instituting same-sex relationships. The newest poll, showing that 54% has no objection to gay marriage, does not exonerate the rabbis — it shames them. If lay Jews can understand it, how come their rabbis can’t?
Why am I so unforgiving and harsh towards the rabbis? I’ll tell you.
Not so long ago, I assumed that the rabbis needed more information, more coaching, more flattery. Until I saw a documentary about the fight against AIDS in the US, 30 years ago. While gay men died like flies, the government did nothing. Money for research only started coming when Gays and Allies took to the streets in violent demonstrations, smashed windows, etc. Also, 50 years ago this year, the Stonewall riots started, what would become Pride Month. Until that violent uprising, US police brutality against Gays and Transgenders went on without anyone caring. If sweet words are important here, they’ve been spoken plentifully. It’s time to show indignation. That’s why I’m so outspoken and fierce.
I’m not driven by hatred for the rabbis — Heaven forbid! Rather, I side with the victims. I care. Just like the All-Mighty roots for an injured party and not the pursuer. Any Jew’s task is to be on the right site of history.
Why are Gays not revolting? Most of them walk away in disgust or get intimidated. The ones who stay are often more deeply spiritual than their family and rabbis and hope to figure it out between them and G^d. Many are too relieved when the rabbis look the other way and say “Don’t ask me about that.” A few get pacified by things like “support,” within the abusive framework of Jewish Law. There’s progress but not thanks to the rabbis — despite them. More pressure on them is needed.
When Gays don’t speak up, are intimidated, the task of Allies to speak up. Don’t blame the victims — help them! Believe me — I studied it — the rabbis have no leg to stand on on this issue. The winning hand is held by ordinary people who say: But we all need a life partner, no? They simply understand that Straights and Gays, just like most men and women, differ neurobiologically concerning what kind of sex a person’s partner needs to be to become “one flesh.” Should women listen to “don’t lie carnally with a man”? Of course not. Neither should Gay men.
This rabbinic hostility or unwillingness to care enough is not just unfitness on a moral and psychological level but also on Jewish grounds.
When physicians would act like that — hurting instead of healing people in their care — they’d go to jail. But rabbis get off scot-free — it’s the freedom of religion, stupid. Maybe they can be helped by the prospect of going to a very deep pit in Hell for this baseless collective hatred.
Look at the US. A very conservative society. Rooted in the verses of the Bible. But they have marriage equality. They even now have a Gay guy running for president — and hardly anyone cares he’s Gay. Not so in Israel, where the rabbis and imams and priests compete in who can be the most hateful and cruel. While their congregants are much milder!
Rabbis don’t rule by quoting verses — except in this case. They’d study any subject deeply before giving an opinion — except in this case. The quacks that claim to be able to “heal” Gays are easily believed. How simple it is to push Gays out and then blame them for walking away. It’s easier to go comfort the family and friends after suicide than to prevent it. It easier to quote an outlying report that children are not well-off in a single-sex family — most research shows that they are better-off!
(I confronted a leading rabbi about this and he wouldn’t listen. I kept going. When a young man in his community committed suicide, he spoke at the funeral, comforted the mourners and only after a year admitted that I was right, but he said so once and did not apologize to the family!)
Don’t assume that the rabbis hate gay men. It’s worse: they don’t care about them. While they are sure that Gentiles were terrible for not caring enough about Jews to stop the Holocaust, they themselves are easily indifferent in the same way about homosexual Jews. While many rabbis feel bad for chained women (women who can’t marry anyone because of Jewish Law), they don’t lose any sleep over a million (!) Jews unable to wed the love of their life (because they are Gay). In the past week, many have protested the ultra-right’s wish to turn Israel into a State obedient to Jewish Law. Did anyone pay attention to that Gays already live there?
They don’t think that they are cruel. They don’t think that they are heartless. They seem nice people to talk to. But at the same times, they work in a system that has outlawed a million Jews for who they are and they consider it not their department. Like the guard from Auschwitz on trial who said: “But I never killed anyone.” Who has refused ordination or given back their rabbinic certification out of protest against this? None.
Gays often are trashed, branded as sinners, rejected for adopting or teaching (while highly qualified), bullied, driven to suicide, told that a good life is not for them and sometimes murdered. They only cause? The rabbis who refuse to acknowledge the obvious, that they are good, innocent people, welcome as they are with their sexual needs. It’s them who certify that it’s decent to reject Gays and indecent to embrace them.
The collective social murder (ostracizing) of a million innocent sweet Jews by the rabbis is the greatest scandal of Judaism lasting 50 years and counting. More-lenient streams of Judaism don’t help by saying that all sexuality is acceptable because it’s private. That would never work in Orthodox Judaism. It doesn’t fly to claim that the Torah only meant that homosexual rape is forbidden. It doesn’t say so. But neither works the vilification of all Gays and their sexuality. Every rabbi who lectures should be asked — every time — about homosexuals. The questioner should not hesitate to use the word “scandalous.” Let students sigh “Again?!” People are figuratively and literally dying — how could we shut up?!
And when they answer that gay life is a forbidden “lifestyle,” a choice, ask the rabbi if he has a choice being straight. When they say that they “feel for” gays, say, the rabbis don’t seem to care — do you? What action do you take because you care? Say, Worse than for gays, this ruins Judaism for everyone. How should we be part of a community that practices Apartheid? Aren’t the rabbis making a mockery out of our holy Judaism for all to see? Isn’t the worst sin to disgrace the name of Jews, G^d? Especially by trying to get away with intellectual dishonesty and plain deceit.
Please don’t faint from gratefulness when rabbis throw them a bone by voicing a token word of sympathy. Instead, reply, Hollow words don’t suffice. Do compare with other oppressions: sexism (lack of gender-blindness), racism (looking at what people are instead of who they are).
Beware of the rabbis turning “victim,” “explaining” that it’s actually them who are under attack. Ask, You seem too confused to support Gays — why should they be blamed for that? When they say that they can’t solve this, say: “Maybe be humble enough to listen to the people?”
The Talmud is honest enough to admit that this is not the first time that the rabbis were stuck and the People provided the answer. After the destruction of the Temple, the Sages suggested to stop having children and forget about Judaism. The People rejected this option. When they didn’t know a procedure concerning Pesach, they said: If they’re not Prophets, they are children of Prophets — let’s look at what they do.
But the first goal is to have the rabbis lose sleep over it. All of them.
Without that stage, they won’t be ready to acknowledge that the Injunction of homosexual intercourse obviously only can relate to heterosexual men. Just as the leading rabbis Kook and Feinstein before their demise admitted (but this is conveniently concealed), as the Talmud explains it and as the verse itself says: “not as with a woman.”