I have taken the time to respond to a letter written by some guy who needs a quality therapist. See responses in Red.
I write the following with a very heavy heart. I am a life-long Zionist. I believe that the State of Israel is part of the process of redemption. Along with many readers, I cry when misfortune befalls the Jewish State, and I rejoice when hearing good tidings. Indeed, these words are being written the day before Yom HaAtzmaut, when I will join untold numbers of Jews in joyously reciting Hallel. Yet I find myself in the uncomfortable but necessary position of calling upon fellow supporters of Israel to refrain from attending the upcoming Celebrate Israel Parade.
For almost nine months, I have been involved in trying to resolve a critical matter regarding the parade (formerly the Salute to Israel Parade). This annual event is a centerpiece of support for Israel in New York. One television station covers the parade from start to finish. The parade is a moment for supporters of Israel to put their best foot forward, to showcase the broad support that Israel enjoys.
Last year, however, a radical change took place that compromised the moral integrity of the parade. Jewish Queer Youth, a group of mostly Orthodox gay men and women, was permitted to march under its own banner. This alone would have been bad enough, but the group used its platform to glorify homosexuality and to declare that homosexual conduct is normal.
NORMS ARE CREATED BY HUMANS.
One particularly offensive banner stated: "We are in every yeshiva.".
UNCLEAR HOW THIS IS "OFFENSIVE," UPSETTING? IS THAT WHAT YOU MEANT TO SAY?
Upon hearing this, I contacted the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which administers the parade. I expressed my concern that the parade was endorsing behavior that the Torah describes as an "abomination." I noted that it would be no different if a group called "Shabbat Violators for Israel" or "Adulterers for Israel" were allowed to march. My plea, to a JCRC staff member, fell on deaf ears (a later email to JCRC head Michael Miller has gone unanswered as well).
The JCRC staffer insisted that the parade lineup had been circulated ahead of time to the participating organizations; had they wanted to protest, they would have done so ex ante. Yet perusing that lineup, which was available on the JCRC website, it took three attempts for me to find Jewish Queer Youth, because it was listed simply by the initials JQY! OH THE HORROR. Yes, its participation was disclosed, but not in a manner discernible to the other groups. Moreover, JQY was shunted to the back of the parade to minimize the chance that others would notice its participation. Indeed, my wife left the parade route a bit before the end of the march, and we found out about JQY’s attendance only because a friend who stayed later called us, disturbed at what she saw.
AM I 100% COMFORTABLE WITH IT? REGARDLESS, I AM NOT IN DENIAL.
Over the course of several months, I spent considerable time contacting dozens of principals and rabbeim at yeshivos that march in the parade. I expressed my belief that it is unacceptable for Orthodox groups to march in the same parade as a group that glorifies immorality. With a few exceptions, those to whom I spoke were sympathetic to my concerns. However, I could not find someone who would step up and, as I desired, author a letter to the JCRC that would declare unequivocally that yeshivos would not march in the 2013 parade unless Jewish Queer Youth were excluded.
Nonetheless, some progress was made, and several weeks ago, JCRC was called to a meeting of leading Jewish educators. I did not attend the meeting, but someone who was present has told me that with the exception of one school, the others were willing to tolerate JQY’s participation in future parades.
I found this news jarring
SO VERY JARRING
., but I was not entirely surprised. Approximately two decades ago, a synagogue that caters to a mostly gay and lesbian clientele attempted to march with provocative language on its banner. At the time, the yeshivos objected and threatened to boycott the parade. The parade organizers backed down, and the synagogue was forced to march under a banner that simply stated its name.
Why, then, was I not surprised that today no one would step up? What has changed since the earlier confrontation was successfully resolved? The answer is that in the ensuing two decades, an unrelenting campaign by gay activists has caused even those within our own camp to question whether homosexual conduct is immoral. It is said that a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth. This is precisely what has happened regarding homosexuality. We have been so worn down by the pro-gay campaign that we have begun to question our own stance; uncompromising opposition has given way to moral ambivalence.
OR PERHAPS WITH TIME AND GREAT EFFORTS BY HARD-WORKING INDIVIDUALS WE HAVE RISEN ABOVE ABUSING OUR OWN BROTHERS AND DENYING THEIR POWERFUL STRUGGLE WHICH PITS THEIR IDENTITY AGAINST THEIR RELIGION.
Why, however, should we care whether gays openly march alongside us? In truth, there are many devastating ramifications. Readers may not know, but the stated goal of gay activists is to make homosexuality "normal" in law and in practice. Here are some of their goals:
I CANNOT JUDGE THE GOALS OF PEOPLE WITH CIRCUMSTANCES THAT ARE NOT MY OWN, WHETHER I LIKE IT OR NOT.
1. Redefinition of marriage. Already implemented in New York, gay activists want full recognition of same-sex unions in all spheres of public life. For example, we can expect that advertising posters, publicly displayed for us and our children to see, will feature gay couples. We can expect the same in television, print, and online ads. If you don’t believe this, consider that one tv show, Modern Family, portrays a gay family as entirely normal. I have not seen the show, but I have read that this family is treated as just another nuclear unit; no mention is made of its different construction.
2. Gay activists seek to equate their cause with the cause for black civil rights. In the not too distant future, it may become a hate crime to publicly speak against homosexuality. In case readers are unclear, let me rephrase this: If a rabbi, speaking about Jewish law, states that homosexual conduct is an abomination, he may be subject to a lawsuit or even to arrest!
3. Home sellers and renters will not be allowed to exclude gay couples from buying or renting. You will advertise your second floor for rent. A gay couple will show up and you will not be allowed to refuse to rent to them based on their sexual preference. Your children will be exposed to this unnatural coupling and you will be unable to do anything about it.
4. Gays have long been on a campaign to teach children that their lifestyle is just one of many "normal" choices. This is being taught in schools to children at the youngest ages. And while parochial schools are not forced to teach this, we should be concerned that public school youths are exposed to this blatant immorality. And let us not forget that many Orthodox boys and girls attend public schools.
One of the big lies espoused by gay activists is that separation of church and state precludes the government from taking a moral stand against homosexuality. The implication is stunning. If one believes that the law cannot indicate a preference for heterosexuality, one is saying that almost every legislator who has served since the founding of our country until approximately five years ago is a racist. He or she, by refusing to endorse same-sex marriage, is as guilty of discrimination as were anti-civil rights legislators. Bill Clinton as President was no better in this regard than, say, segregation firebrand Stephen A. Douglas.
Separation of church and state prohibits the government from incorporating a specific religion in law. It does not prohibit the state from taking moral positions. The state takes moral positions on many matters and ensconces those positions in law. For example, it is illegal to kill. The law prohibits murder not only because society could not function if murder were legal, but because the Judeo-Christian heritage looks upon murder as morally repugnant. This is readily seen in the fact that when a murder is particularly egregious, judges will denounce the defendant in very strong terms and impose an even greater sentence than might otherwise be incurred.
As our law has evolved, the law and the courts generally have avoided taking positions on matters that do not have consensus among mainline religious groups. For example, there is no religious consensus on abortion. The Catholic view, for one, is much more restrictive than the Jewish view. But when it comes to homosexuality, our shared religious tradition has been unequivocal in viewing it as an abomination, as stated in the Torah. It is perfectly reasonable for law to reflect this unambiguous view. And while no one is suggesting that the government peek into people’s private lives, the law must not endorse this immoral conduct.
Does it make a difference whether a behavior is simply tolerated or whether it is given the law’s stamp of approval? The Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 26:5) teaches that the fate of the Generation of the Flood was sealed when it became legal for men to contract marriages with each other! The behavior was going on, tolerated by G-d, until it was given the imprimatur of law.
My friends, do we risk becoming another flood generation, G-d forbid?
The damage is even greater when we consider our beloved State of Israel. The Torah states that homosexual behavior can lead to the spitting out of Israel’s inhabitants (VaYikra 18:22-28). If we participate in a parade that endorses homosexuality, how are we contributing to Israel’s welfare? The Celebrate Israel Parade, by including Jewish Queer Youth, transforms from an event that benefits Israel to one that harms it. Dear readers, are you willing to be a party to such an event?
I WILL NOT REFUSE TO ATTEND AN EVENT DUE TO THE PRESENCE OF THOSE WITH LIFE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT ARE NOT MY OWN.
Well-meaning disputants have countered that Orthodox groups do march alongside Conservative and Reform groups, notwithstanding their endorsement of non-halachic practices. This is true, but it is beside the point. Conservative and Reform temples and organizations do not state openly on their parade banners that they reject Jewish law. Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt’l, was quoted frequently to the effect that we can and must cooperate with heterodox groups on matters of communal import. The Rav wrote that all Jews share a "covenant of fate," that our destiny is inextricably intertwined. However, it is unimaginable that he would have consented to walk in tandem with a group whose whole raison d’etre is to flout halachah.
I had hoped to carry on this campaign to a successful conclusion without having to take my case public. However, the refusal
of schools and organizations to challenge the Jewish Community Relations Council has left me no choice.
NO CHOICE AT ALL.
If the Orthodox public takes a stand, collectively or individually, we may succeed in changing the composition of the parade. If we stand by and do nothing, we in effect are stating that the Torah’s moral code carries no weight.
IT IS NOT MY JOB TO PLAY GOD.
The Celebrate Israel Parade is scheduled for Sunday, June 2nd. There is still time for those of you who agree with my message to protest to your yeshivos, day schools, and organizations that the current composition of the parade is unacceptable, and that if JQY marches, you will not march or attend.
I welcome suggestions on how to bring this matter to a successful conclusion. I welcome messages of support as well; if you are willing to stay away from the parade, please tell me. With the blessing of G-d, we will succeed.