Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Should we be nice to the rabbis about homosexuality?

Marty Moseson posted what I consider a very worthy and important comment to an earlier blog post by me. Here is his whole reaction (slightly edited):

As a man attracted to the same sex, I disagree with you completely. First of all, Gays have it better in Israel than 90% of the world. Things take time to change. Secondly, attacking rabbis is not the way to go. You attack the religious community, you end up hurting the closeted religious kids. This war against rabbis by LGBT is endangering religious closeted men and women because gays are perceived as enemies to orthodoxy and vice versa.

I think there is much to say for your opinion. And still, I maintain my post. Let me explain.

I committed myself to write in my blog things that not everyone writes. So many people praise how well gays have it in Israel. There are good reasons for that tribute. But it also hides that the situation is still terrible.

My post was prompted by speaking to a young Orthodox-Jewish gay guy (He can’t yet say the words gay or homo out-loud) who has nothing to live for because the rabbis don’t agree with him being intimate with anyone ever. We know for years already that a whopping 20% of GLBTQ in Israel tried suicide. Tried – not just contemplated. How horrifying!

For years, I thought like you, Marty. Then I noticed that the rabbis don’t move, except cosmetically. At first, I thought that they were fearing attacks if they would inform themselves and be more honest. But I kept asking myself: How do these rabbis sleep at night? I can tell you now: They sleep excellently. Because they don’t care. They really don’t.

This in stark contrast with thousand upon thousands of straight Orthodox-Jewish parading allies, as I reported earlier.

Thousands of young gay Jews are leaving the religion, the country, live with utter depression and try suicide and the rabbis are silent — except for some token apologetics and private smiles.

We talk about more than a million changed (unable to marry halachically) Jewish men and women!

I agree that being nice to rabbis is important – I am that all the time and many are my friends – but on this issue, hard words are needed. If placating them would work, it’s done plenty, with no results.

And this stagnation keeps me from sleeping soundly. This issue is not merely of academic interest. People jump to their deaths and the rabbis yawn. They have power but don’t use it. They are not part of a solution; they are a major part of – if not sole cause to – the problem.

Sure, many Orthodox rabbis see gay liberation as the enemy of Judaism. However, they had the same problem with Feminism and things did not improve by women being nice(r) to the rabbis. (This is not a rabbinic flaw. Almost all people are lazy and selfish and if you don’t speak up, most people, and especially leaders, will not hear you.)

You can’t spoil the good name Gay Lib has with the rabbis – it has none. And being nice to them has not worked at all. They have not stopped the bullies among them, that have not read up on the issues involved, they have not changed Jewish Law, and they are not even considering it.

Attacks on the rabbis haven’t caused them to see gays as the enemy. Rather, the rabbis still think that being gay is a lifestyle choice instead of a neuro-biological fact. Therefore they see GLBTQ as the enemy. And they are attacked only recently for that. And not the other way around.

Let’s agree to go good cop / bad cop on them. You go good cop, I’ll go bad cop. Not because I disagree with you about being nice. But without attacks on their bastion of indifference, nothing will change. Believe me.

NB: Attacking the rabbis does not mean to degrade them, Heaven forbid. Rather, it means to hold them to their stature and responsibility.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. To see other blog posts by him, a second blog - under construction - can be found by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture.
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