Volume 50 Number 74
                    Produced: Sun Dec 25  9:12:35 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Frum and ...unconventional (3)
         [Ira L. Jacobson, Lisa Liel, Ira Bauman]
Homosexuality (2)
         [Rabbi Meir Henoch Hakohen Wise, Avi Feldblum]
Question not about homophobia
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
The Term "homophobia" and Some Questions (2)
         [Ira L. Jacobson, Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 15:18:24 +0200
Subject: Re: Frum and ...unconventional

      The Orthodox shul he attends is not sure if they should grant him
      a family membership because that might be construed as lending
      their approval to his unusual scheme.

A member of a synagog in my neighborhood related to me that his shul has
two criteria for refusing membership: public desecration of Shabbat, and
living with a woman not one's wife for more than one year.

IRA L. JACOBSON         

From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 08:56:51 -0500
Subject: Re: Frum and ...unconventional

From: Sarah Green <sarahyarok@...>

> I am having trouble understanding the attitudes of those who try 
> to gain acceptance as frum while publicizing the nature of their 
> living arrangements.  What stops them from keeping these matters 
> private, unless they are trying to gain acceptance for their 
> lifestyle and encourage it.

I hear that a lot.  "Fine, but do you have to *flaunt* it?"

Here's the thing, though.  Frum Jews are invasive.  I'm sure many
communities are, but the frum community is the only one I really know.
It's not in a bad way.  It's in a caring way.  People ask questions,
because they want to know about other people, and that's simply a sign
of Ahavat Yisrael.

But it puts us in a situation where we need to either lie or evade or
tell the truth.

"What does your husband do?", for instance.  I can say, "I'm not
married," which will then lead to questions about my daughter, who may
be standing right next to me.  I can say, "Teaches", without a pronoun,
and just leave it at that.

Whatever I do, eventually, the person who asked me is going to find out.
The frum community is just too close.  And then they're going to feel
deceived.  They're going to think that I was ashamed or something and
trying to hide the awful, awful truth. <sob!>

Except that there is no "awful, awful truth".  I'm not doing anything
wrong.  So why should I act like it?

Or I'm talking with someone I've met in shul, and she says, "My husband
sprained his ankle slipping on the ice last night".  That's fine, right?
But if I say, "My partner sprained her ankle slipping on the ice last
night," I'm "flaunting".

Anywhere we go, it's going to be the three of us.  Me, my partner, and
our daughter.  Should we teach our daughter to be ashamed of us?  She
calls me Mommy and my partner Ima (I didn't join in the discussion about
different language names for parents, because I knew I'd be accused of
"flaunting"), and it's not going to take much for people to figure it

There's no publicizing here.  But there's also no hiding in shame,
because it isn't warranted.  When we tried to join our shul in Israel,
we weren't stupid enough to try and join as a family, even though it
would have cost a lot less.  No, we each filled out a form separately.
But the shul's star chamber decided that our money was tainted.  The
example I gave a few days ago about the "he doesn't want to talk to you"
answer we got when we asked who made that decision?  That happened to

I think the issue is a lot less what we do and a lot more the
inappropriate musings other people engage in.


From: <Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman)
Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2005 21:44:38 EST
Subject: Re: Frum and ...unconventional

      It's all rumor and innuendo, and it's done without the least sense
      of guilt on the parts of the perpetrators, because they can say,
      "Well, the Torah calls homosexuality an abomination."

      It doesn't.  For the millionth time, it does nothing of the sort.
      Not even for men, and kal v'chomer not for women.

      In the first place, the Torah defines certain acts between two men
      as a toeivah.  Whether the men in question are gay or straight (as
      in prisons and the military) is irrelevant.

Lisa, I am sorry for the discrimination you have encountered.  I
personally do not see it in my community and have seen far more
compassion than hatred. I would hope that your community could be more

However, I see a problem with your line of reasoning.  You understand
how the Torah labels a homosexual act between two men as forbidden, but
you see the concept of homosexuality and homosexuals as separate and
untouched by the Torah's judgement.  If the sin instead were adultery we
would have the same three categories: adulterers, the concept of
adultery and the adulterous act.  I think that most people would agree
that if the Torah condemned the third concept, the first two would not
get away so easy.

I've seen on some posts that some people are unfairly more critical of
homosexuality than other aveirot.  I'm not sure that's is true.  Every
year we go to the Salute to Israel Parade in New York.  There is always,
in the past years, a contingent from an openly gay syanagogue.  The
applause is subdued when they pass. Nothing however, is thrown at them.
There are no catcalls and the crowd is polite.  If another contingent
came by with a sign proclaiming "Adulterers for Israel" or "Embezzlers
for Israel", My guess is that they would hear far more criticism from
the people than the Gay and Lesbian shul did.

Ira Bauman


From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Meir Henoch Hakohen Wise)
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 08:14:47 EST
Subject: Re: Homosexuality

The clearest presentation in English on the Orthodox position was
written by Rabbi Norman Lamm of YU in one of the yearbooks of the
Encyclopaedia Judaica (I think in the 70s) The is position was endorsed
by the late Chief Rabbi Lord Jakobovits of England.

In short whilst rejecting homosexuality one must not reject
"homosexuals". This is no different to Shabbat desecrators, adulterers
or those who eat non-kosher.

Lord Jakobovits once said that if non-Jews i.e. monks & nuns could take
a vow of chastity for their love of God as they see it, then surely
Jewish men and women should be able to find the strength to desist from
practices which the Torah declares to be abominable.

I write these lines in the week when the British government has seen fit
to legalise same-sex partnership which the Talmud in Hullin 92a (bottom
line) says that even the non-Jews did not stoop so low.

Rabbi Meir Henoch Hakohen Wise (London)

From: Avi Feldblum <avi@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005
Subject: Re: Homosexuality

In response to Ira's comments about comparing the "categories" of "GLB"
and "engaging in forbidden homosexual acts" with the "categories" of
"adulterers" and "the adulterous act", as well as partial response to
Rabbi Wise's comments. To the extent that we are engaging in a
discussion of the area of discussion that Lisa, among others, are having
here, we need to make sure that we correctly define the categories /
terms being used. I am not going to get involved, at this point, as to
the appropriateness of the comparison, just make sure that to the extent
possible, we are making the correct comparison.

I think it has been made pretty clear that the term Frum GLB, and as
such the category in Ira's terminology, is someone who has a GLB sexual
orientation but does not engage is forbidden activities. The equavelant
definition of the term / category for "adulterer" vs engaging in
adulterous acts would be one of the following two: either someone who is
attracted to a specific person of the opposite sex who is married and
does not act on that attraction, or someone who is only attracted to
members of the opposite sex who are already married and does not act on
that attraction. So if we wish to compare the communal response to a
frum GLB member vs the category of "adulterer", it would have to be in
terms of the above definitions. I tend to highly doubt that should any
shul member mention in some way that he or she finds some other member
of the community that is married, but not to them, attractive, people
will not automatically assume that they have had an illicit
relationship. However, should it come out that some member of the
community lets it be known that they are GLB, the immediate assumption
is that even if they are to all appearances frum members of the
community, they engage in forbidden activities. I think this is part of
what Lisa is refering to. I also think it is disingenious to think that
this behaviour is not common in the great majority of orthodox jewish
communities. To the extent that someone is in a community where this is
clearly not true, that is a very positive thing.

The second part of the discussion, seperate from much of what Lisa is
talking about, is the relationship of the frum community to a BLB member
who does engage in forbidden acts. Here the discussion is to what extent
does the community treat this person the same or different than any
other member of the community who is known to engage is some forbidden
activities. This can range from Sabbath violation, Kashrut violation,
heterosexual violations etc. If you have a community that is homogenous
in terms of halachic performance, and anyone who is a known violator of
halacha is not welcome, it would make sense to me to not allow a GLB
person who is known to engage in forbidden activities to be a
member. However, if the community allows people who are known Sabbath
violators, or known Kashrut violators to be members, it is very
difficult for me to understand the validity of refusing membership to a
GLB violator.

I think that it is clear to me that much of the difference in practice
is not based on halachically driven reasoning but rather social



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 15:19:24 +0200
Subject: Question not about homophobia

I was wondering about a theoretical situation in which a man is not just
gay, but convinced that he is really a woman in a man's body.  Such a
person is moved by his conviction to have a sex-change operation.

How would the halakha and the Jewish community look upon such an act? 
Would it be regarded as self-mutilation and hence forbidden?  Would it
matter whether or not the man has fathered children before the operation?

Now, after the operation, how would the halakha view a monogamous
relationship between such a person and a man?  Between such a person and
a woman?  Would such a person be eligible for huppa and qiddushin?  In
which case?

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 15:16:36 +0200
Subject: Re: The Term "homophobia" and Some Questions

 M Wollenberg <rabbi@...> stated the following on Thu, 22 Dec
2005 21:26:38 -0000

      Just to clarify, Rabbi Chaim Rapoport is a talmid chochom and a
      highly respected rov here in the United Kingdom, he trained at
      litvishe and lubavitcher yeshivos, his scholarship and psak would
      be respected by many across the board and he is certainly not a
      nobody within the Torah world, although not so well-known around
      the world, his scholarship and erudition are legendary and

I was wondering about the extent to which well-known talmidei hakhamim
regard him so highly as does R' Mordechai.  Are his pisqei halakha cited
in the current rabinnical journals or in the responsa literature?  Do
many rabbanim ask him for his opinions?  Where is this documented in

Just what does the word "legendary" mean in this context?       

IRA L. JACOBSON         

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 14:44:29 +0200
Subject: Re: The Term "homophobia" and Some Questions

Avi Feldblum <avi@...> stated on Thu, 22 Dec 2005 21:26:38

      If you do some searching on the web, the ambiguity in this term
      becomes fairly clear. The best short description I found was on
      Wikipedia, and I bring the initial portion down below. I also did
      a quick google search for number of hits of the combined phrases,
      to get a feeling whether I agree with Ira that the initial word
      "irrational" modified only "fear" or all three of "fear of,
      aversion to or discrimination of".  Based on both the initial
      paragraph from the Wikipedia definition and the google hit count,
      I think most people would agree that the term "irrational"
      modifies only "fear" and "aversion to and discrimination of",
      whether "rational" or "irrational" are extended meanings of the
      term.  Because of that, I dislike use of the term due to its
      ambiguity and potential political use / implications.

I hope you are aware that Wikipedia is written and edited by the public.
Wikipedia describes itself as "the free encyclopedia that anyone can
edit."  If one, ten or fifty people of a certain viewpoint decided to
express it on Wikipedia, that would be The Opinion.

In fact, they urge, "Don't be afraid to edit articles­anyone can edit,
and we encourage you to be bold (but please don't vandalize )!  Find
something that can be improved, either in content, grammar or
formatting, and fix it."

Wikipedia is hardly an unbiased or authoritative source.  Rather, it
seems to be a vehicle for people with agendas.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


End of Volume 50 Issue 74