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Showing posts from 2012

Rabbinical Council of America no longer endorses reparative therapy

November 29, 2012
Dear Chaverim, The following will be released to the press later today.
Rabbinical Council of America's Statement Regarding JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality)
In the years since the Rabbinical Council of America's first comment about JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality), "the only Jewish based organization dedicated to assisting individuals with unwanted same sex attractions move from gay to straight" in January, 2004, in which we suggested that rabbis might refer congregants to them for reparative therapy, many concerns about JONAH and reparative therapy have been raised.

As rabbis trained in Jewish law and values, we base our religious positions regarding medical matters on the best research and advice of experts and scholars in those areas, along with concern for the religious, emotional, and physical welfare of those impacted by our decisions.  Our responsibility is to apply halakhic (Jewish legal) values to tho…

Reparative Therapy, "It wasn't kosher" on Joy Behar Say Anything!

Organization Promising Gay Cure Sued for Fraud

Today a ground breaking lawsuit was filed against Jews Offering Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH) offering reparative or ex-gay therapy, the 'cure' for homosexuality repudiated by the America Psychaitric, Psychological and Medical Associations, but nonetheless still recommended by many Orthodox rabbis. There has already been much press. Here is an article from ABC, and several others are compiled here. More to come.
Gay Men, Moms Sue NJ Jewish Gay Conversion Therapists
Chaim Levin,now 23, alleges he received "humiliating" gay conversion therapy and was "misled" into thinking he could become straight. (Amy Sussman/AP Photo)

Nov. 27, 2012

Four gay men and two of their mothers filed a lawsuit today against a New Jersey conversion therapy group that claims to rid men of same-sex attractions and turn them straight.

The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court of New Jersey Hudson County, alleges that methods used by the Jersey City-based Jew…

When I Lost Hope: Levin v. Eichler

Early this past July, I filed a lawsuit against Sholom Eichler, a first cousin who sexually abused me for four years starting when I was 6. From the day the abuse began until last year, I hadn’t felt confident, strong or ready to attempt to pursue justice and hold Eichler accountable for what he did to me. I was afraid. The people I counted on to protect and help me when I was young only fed that fear, allowing it to grow. I had confided in my school principal, Rabbi Lustig of Oholei Torah, when I was 14 and the years of secret pain were too much to bear alone. Rabbi Lustig advised my parents not to create “a family fight” by confronting Eichler or his parents and strongly urged them not to say anything. Consequently, Eichler remained a welcome presence in my parents’ home for the rest of my youth, and my family celebrated his wedding despite knowing that he brutally abused and molested me for four years of my childhood — four years that I’ll never get back, four years that I live wit…

Huffington Post: The Grave Truth Threatening Orthodox Communities

June 14th, 2012 Jewish LGBT activist This past sunday, a townhall meeting was held in Crown Heights to raise awareness regarding the epidemic of child sexual abuse within Orthodox communities and their problematic responses. The event hosted by Eli Federman, a long time community activist and champion of these important causes, and included incredible panelists: Rabbi Yosef Blau, a vocal advocate and supporter of survivor's rights; Irwin Zalkin, an attorney for survivors of clergy sexual abuse; Norman Siegel, a civil rights attorney; Mordechai Feinsten, a survivor and advocate; and Zvi Gluck, community activist and founder of Our Place, a safe space for survivors. Along with the panelists, the Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes spoke. He attempted to justify his legally dubious and controversial practice of keeping confidential the names of religious Jews prosecuted for these heinous crimes, adding "I created a system that keeps the names of offenders out of…

Marching in the Celebrate Israel Day Parade: Walking into the Lion's Den

Some people looked at us in surprise or shock, and others, in horror. A few parents covered their children’s eyes as we went by. I tried to disregard the slurs and middle fingers, but one woman refused to be ignored. She accosted us after the parade, berating us that we do not belong and should be ashamed of our ourselves. But, I was proud to march and represent LGBTQ Jews in the largest event in the world transcending movements and politics and representing Jewish solidarity; and, by and large, it was a wonderful success. Still, after learning that our group of LGBTQ brothers and sisters would be allowed to march in the Celebrate Israel Parade for the first time since its inception in 1964, I had been conflicted.

On one hand, I was thrilled. The progress made within Jewish communities towards tolerance of LGBTQ people has been been remarkable, and our being allowed to participate in the Parade was an historic symbol of the progress. Gay Jews had been prevented from participating openl…

Huffington Post: Dear Rabbi Shmuley, Can You Leave Dan Savage Alone?

May 3rd, 2012 Jewish LGBT activist This open letter comes after a few days of comments and articles written by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a proud supporter of gay rights and a dear friend of mine. He has lambasted Dan Savage for certain remarks made in reference to the Bible. Rabbi Shmuley went so far as to compare Dan Savage to the "Westboro Baptist Church of the left." Seeing this headline, I was shocked that Rabbi Shmuley was able to conjure such an analogy about a man who created the It Gets Better Project dedicated to helping save the lives of LGBT teens all across the world. On the other hand, the Westboro Baptist Church and other right wing fanatic groups have literally called for the death of homosexuals, likening LGBT people to pedophiles, murderers and many other abhorrent comparisons that don't even deserve to be mentioned. Dan Savage has never crossed such a line.

Savage did refer to specific verses that call for the murder of homosexuals as "bull…

On 40,000 hits and my upcoming 23rd brithday

While my blog has been somewhat silent over the past couple of weeks, the numbers and comments have been speaking for themselves. I'm fairly confident that within an hour after this post will be up, my blog will pass the 40,000 number, a monumental moment for me since I started this blog just a few short months ago.

I've been undergoing some very personal things and therefore have not been able to write as much as I'd like to, but I am working on some things that will hopefully give my dear readers something to talk about :).

My 23rd birthday is coming up on May 13th, this year in particular my birthday is significant for many reasons, most importantly, the incredible success that I've seen and felt over the past 12 months.

As I reflect on these events, both past and future, I am thankful to you, my dear readers, for giving me the ability and believing in my potential to go from "strength to strength" and take Harvey Milk's quote on giving people hope and…

Huffington Post: Jewish Queer Youth Speak Out at Yale

April 23rd, 2012 Jewish LGBT activist The academic world, especially a campus as elaborate as Yale's, fills me with awe -- the libraries, buildings devoted to different subject areas and, above all, the energy of the thousands of students studying day and night toward various degrees that offer a brighter future. That world is something I had once thought I would never have the opportunity to experience. This past weekend, I had the great pleasure to get another glimpse of it as part of the warmly received Orthodox Jewish LGBT panel hosted by the Slifka center at Yale. Two years earlier, I had spoken on a similar panel at the University of Pennsylvania; that was the first time I had spoken in front of an audience about my experience with issues of orientation and Orthodox Judaism. It was also the first time I had set foot on a college campus. Until then, the only thing I had known about college campuses was through TV and movies. I resolved that day that I would experi…

Haven't gone AWOL - I'm still here :)

Hey Dear Readers,

I know it's been a while since my last post, but I just wanted to reassure everyone that I'm still alive and kicking (as you might have seen in other places) and hope to have a new post up soon.

We are on the brink of hitting 40,000 views, which is astounding to me, so let's just keep talking about how much you gottagivemhope and I promise to do my part and post something very soon.

With much love,

Chaim Levin