Volume 7 Number 22

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Admin-Flash: Gay Synagogue Will NOT be Marching
         [Avi Feldblum]
Salute to Israel Parade (3)
         [Janice Gelb, Yisrael Sundick, Anthony Fiorino]
Yeherag Ve'al Ya'avor, and a Comment on the Israel Day Parade
         [Jeremy Schiff]


From: <ayf@...> (Avi Feldblum)
Date: Fri, 7 May 93 10:36:42 EDT
Subject: Admin-Flash: Gay Synagogue Will NOT be Marching

Flash News Item on the radio this morning.

Part of the earlier worked out compromise involved an agreement of some
sort not to give any individual interviews on the agreement (or at least
that is how it came out in the radio bit). Due to a published interview
earlier this week that the head of the gay synagogue gave, the parade
sponsers have withdrawn the invitation to them to march. If people have
better information, and if anyone knows what is going to happen in terms
of schools marching etc, please get it to me and I will try and get it
out in a timely manner.

Avi Feldblum
<avi_feldblum@...>    or  ayf@volta.pr.att.com


From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Thu, 6 May 93 16:21:52 -0400
Subject: Re: Salute to Israel Parade

In mail.jewish Vol. 7 #17 Digest, Josh Rapps writes:

>There is a significant difference between partcipating with
>non-religious groups that are openly Mechalel Shabbos (desecrate the
>shabbos) as these groups are not forced into the parade as an act of
>gezayrat hamalchut (act of government).  Rather their participation in
>showing support for Eretz Yisrael may be viewed as genuine and they have
>no agenda other than support of E'Y. The gay group I believe is doing
>this for selfish reasons, having been emboldened by the pressure applied
>by the city government. Their participation will turn the parade into a
>showcase for gay rights rather than support for Israel. 

Do you have evidence that this was the original agenda of the gay
synagogue? Perhaps someone in New York and closer to the start of events
could enlighten us here: did the gay synagogue make a point of saying
they were marching for the sole reason of exhibiting their gay status?
Or did the Orthodox community just hear of the fact that a gay synagogue
would be marching?

In the same digest, Joseph Greenberg writes:

>2) Perhaps this is ignorance, but I have always thought that gilui arayot
>refers to prohibited _incestuous_ relationships (seven, I think). While
>sex between men is considered an abomination (as is bestiality), I don't
>believe that this is considered one of the arayot, and therefore would not
>be yehareg v'al ya'avor (die and not transgress). 

I'd like some information on this myself on a related issue: how severe
is the transgression of sexual practices that involve depositing sperm
not in the vagina, which is also a prohibited practice? If they're going
to ban marchers from the parade that practice THOSE kinds of
abominations, the number of marchers would be a LOT more significantly
affected ...

In mail.jewish Vol. 7 #20 Digest, Arnold Lustiger writes:

>I understand that the Messianic "Jews" are *not* allowed to march in the
>Israel parade under their own banner, despite the fact that the intent
>of the parade is "not to make any statements implied or otherwise, about
>the acceptance of the Jewish community of the views held by any marcher
>in that parade".  The gay "lifestyle" is no more a legitimate Jewish
>option than the Christian lifestyle. Allowing them to march gives them
>the legitimacy they crave.

The Messianic "Jews" are an organization that deliberately tries to
convince Jews to believe in something that is fundamentally opposed to
Jewish theology and beliefs. The members of the gay synagogue are NOT
trying to convert ANYONE to their own practices or beliefs.

I'd also like to ask what you mean by the gay "lifestyle"? Aside from
sexual practices, most homosexuals lead an extremely normative life. As
I obliquely pointed out to Isaac Balbin in a previous post, homosexuals
are among the population everywhere and are not easily identifiable by
any kind of "lifestyle" stigma.

>This legitimacy inevitably leads to growth.  No, the presence of members
>of a gay synagogue marching in a parade is not going to "inspire" Jewish
>onlookers to become homosexual themselves, or make onlookers believe
>that Judaism actively promotes homosexuality. It will allow Jewish
>onlookers to believe that it is possible to legitimately identify as
>Jewish and homosexual, thereby eliminating a present and until recently
>effective societal barrier to a fundamentally illegimate lifestyle.

Are you suggesting that a person who was born Jewish or halachically
converted to Judaism is no longer Jewish because they are committing an
act in the category of "gilui arayot"?

What about homosexuals who have never committed a homosexual act but
know that is their orientation? (This is not a hyphothetical question:
when I lived in Israel I knew some Orthodox Jews who knew they were gay
but could not bring themselves to break the law.)

Also, you imply that prohibiting the presence of the gay synagogue at
this event is an "effective societal barrier to a fundamentally
illegitimate lifestyle." The very presence of gay synagogues at all
indicate that the barrier has not been all that effective.

Folks, homosexuality exists. It is an orientation that is not a matter
of choice but of biology. People by and large do not choose it to be
politically fashionable or to deliberately sin. Most would prefer not to
be thus oriented. Gays whose Judaism is important to them want a place
to gather and pray as Jews where they will not be judged by this one
fact among many about them. Living in fear of someone finding out you
are gay, having to hide something about yourself that is important to
you because it may affect other people's attitude toward you is the
reason for the existence of gay synagogues. They are not meant as a
provocative or political statement.

Finally, I'd like to say as a public answer to a few private email
messages I got that I am NOT homosexual myself. I feel obligated to post
on this matter on behalf of the many gay Jews I know in Israel and here.

Janice Gelb                  | (415) 336-7075     
<janiceg@...>   | "A silly message but mine own" (not Sun's!) 

From: Yisrael Sundick <sas34@...>
Date: Thu, 6 May 93 22:15:07 -0400
Subject: Salute to Israel Parade

> >(sponsored, let me remind you, not by a
> >religious organization but by a Zionist one)

I am not sure what is meant by this, IMHO, Zionism and Judaism are ONE!!!
In light of the events of the last 50 years, I see no way to divorce
Jewish religious observance and faith with the existance of the STATE OF
ISRAEL. OUR country has not YET taken on the full yoke of torah
observance, but this will obviously take time. Unforunatly, the gay and
lesbian comunity is using this event as part of their comming out in the
US. It is unfortunate, that they choose this parade to further political
goals but they have. As Israel is our primary objective, we, the
religiously sensitive comunity must do what we can in order to both
support Israel, but at the same time FORWARD religiously. Quietly standing
by, gives the gays at least an unspoken consent. 
 I personally, based on what Rav Schachter said, alowing us to go, but not
march will be at the parade, but very much look down on any official
recognition of the gays marching.

*     Yisrael Sundick       *        Libi beMizrach VeAni                   * 
*  <sas34@...>  *             beColumbia                        *

From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 6 May 93 13:42:13 -0400
Subject: Salute to Israel Parade

I had no intention of diving into this parade question, but I must voice
my objection to Josh Rapps' use of Sanhedrin 74 as a proof text against
marching in the parade.  To argue that the socio-political climate of N.Y.
City today is in any way parallel to a gezeirat hamalchut is ludicrous. 
No Jews are being compelled to leave their faith or practice in any way.

> Kiddush Hashem need not require a situation of laying your life
> down. "Just saying no" is a just as powerful an act of Kiddush Hashem.

But the gemara there is discussing under what conditions one should give up
one's life as a kiddush hashem, not the general concept of kiddush hashem.
I fail to see the relevance of that gemara to the parade question, even if
we all agreed that boycotting the parade is a kiddush hashem (which, I'll
bet, we don't all agree on).

Eitan Fiorino


From: <schiff@...> (Jeremy Schiff)
Date: Thu, 6 May 93 14:57:14 EDT
Subject: Yeherag Ve'al Ya'avor, and a Comment on the Israel Day Parade

Shlomo Pick wants to equate the severity of murder and forbidden sexual
relations because "yeherag ve'al ya'avor" (one should accept death
rather than be forced to transgress) applies to both. I think his logic
is incorrect though.  The applicability of yeherag ve'al yaavor cannot
be regarded as defining the severity of a particular mitzvah, but rather
should be seen as part of the way that particular mitzvah is observed.
My proof is simple; it seems that yeherag ve'al ya'avor applies even to
cases of sexual relations forbidden only rabbinically (there is a famous
gemara in Sanhedrin to this effect; not everyone interprets it the same
way - in particular the Rambam's view is not clear - but the Vilna Gaon
on the halachot of "stam yainam" - wine of non-Jews, which is a rabbinic
prohibition because of idol worship - says it explicitly). Now if
yeherag ve'al yaavor were an indication of severity, how could it apply
to rabbinic laws? But if it's just a part of the way we do certain
mitzvot, the extra things the rabbis introduced into the categories of
forbidden relations, idol worship and murder could also be covered by
yeherag ve'al ya'avor.

On the other hand, the choice of which of the four death sentences is
given to people meriting such, is, I believe, a true measure of the
severity of a sin. But I think this has no relevance whatsoever to the
Israel day parade.

Fortunately, nobody is likely to decide whether or not to participate in
the Israel day parade on the basis of what I say. I personally am happy
walking with reform Jews, sabbath desecrators, homosexuals, and yes,
even murderers.  That is, _IF_ I achieve something by marching with
these people. And by "achieve" I don't mean that I give the mayor of New
York and the Daily News' reporters the impression that all Jews are
unified for Israel. I don't care what these people think. I care whether
I can bring my fellow Jews back to the Torah. Miserably, I have to
confess that I have no idea how I could help the members of the gay
congregation. Putting up banners at the parade saying that we, the
orthodox, deplore homosexuality, won't do a thing. Going over to them an
inviting them to our houses for a Shabbat might help a bit. My wife and
I have, a few times invited non-frum friends and relatives for meals on
Shabbat, Channukah etc., but it has failed to change their lives. The
real issue I feel the Israel day parade raises is what can we do to make
a serious change in the lives of the non-orthodox; until we find answers
to this, our decision whether or not to march on Sunday is meaningless.

Jeremy Schiff


End of Volume 7 Issue 22