Skip to main content

"Chaim, what do you want?" Mission Statement

Some people have posted comments on some of my articles and posts about the recent Oprah segment and the general topic of homosexuality in the Jewish community.Based on these comments I think some people been confused as to what my mission statement is, has been, and will continue to be: The reason I am choosing to come out so publicly and so honestly about what happened to me isn't to convince people to accept me personally, it's not about me anymore, my years of torture and pain for being gay in a frum (religious) environment are over and I have moved on to a place in my life where I have found peace in my soul. The work that I do is the voice of so many others who have endured similar and even more trying experiences while growing up frum and gay, and the hope is that the people who see this now, the parents, brothers, sisters, and friends of gay people might learn from this and treat a gay person in their life differently, but the biggest hope, the most important part, is that younger version of so many of us that felt alone and without support, the message is for those people, no matter which community you come from, even in Crown Heights, you're not alone.

Many have asked me: "why don't you leave the community behind? Why is your head still in this bad place, this negative seemingly closed minded homophobic community? Why wouldn't you just find another congregation or shul or community that would accept you and live there without this controversy? And then come the even sharper questions from people who continue to, and have in the past criticized me for the work that I'm doing now: "Why do you need to talk about this issue/problem publicly?" "Why can't you just keep it to yourself and not cause this pain and aggravation to your family by "flaunting" your gayness in everyone'es face?" The last two questions are very charged and have a lot of weight to them but I think they give you a picture of what these people are asking of me.They're asking me to "keep it to myself", they're saying they're ok with gay people as long as they don't act gay or talk about it in public. As is the history within religious communities like Crown Heights, based on my own personal experiences as well as many stories that I've heard from people who live in Crown Heights and are part of the Chabad orthodox community, subjects like homosexuality and sexual abuse have been avoided by the "leaders" of the community ever since I can remember. Yes it's true that  lately people have become more aware of the serious issue facing hundreds of children in Crown Heights who were molested and continue to be until this day, but because of the silence and stigma associated with sexual abuse in this community, most victims never get to bring their abuser to justice and see them be accountable for their actions. It's the silence that allows people who are a danger to children walk freely in the streets of Crown Heights today, that silence that has caused immense pain to people like myself who are gay and were and clearly still are heavily criticized by members of our own community simply for speaking up.

The support that I have received over the past month since the Jewish Press article has been amazing, and compared to the backlash I've been receiving, the support outweighs the backlash by far. However, many of my critics are from the Chabad community themselves and from other frum communities communities (I know the word frum is loaded and doesn't really represent any group of people, but let's just say that the people who wrote these comments were self identified as frum (orthodox)); many people have left anonymous comments on the Jewish Press article claiming to know me and attempted to destroy my character and bring shame to my family, others have simply asked the aforementioned questions, but I think it's clear that although having a dialogue is the best thing that can happen, even if it's not all positive, those questions and that tone of "keeping it quiet" only serve to continue this dangerous silence that ignores the serious plight of so many people that suffer just because they are gay, not because they commit "homosexual acts"


Popular posts from this blog

Sharing Stories With Deborah Feldman

Discussing plans for our futures, finding the humor in our similar and traumatic pasts and enjoying uncommon empathy, Deborah Feldman and I had coffee on the Upper East Side on a bright Friday morning. My time with her was a refreshing pleasure and an honor. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots. Deborah helped me with something that I’ve been trying to navigate lately. Deborah reminded that I’m not an ex gay survivor, an ex Chabad, a gay man, a Jew, an activist, etc.; she told me that who I am is just Chaim Levin — who just also happens to have an interesting story to share and an opportunity to inspire change. She insisted that we all have our own lives and personalities that we must care for, cultivate and celebrate.

Deborah had entered mainstream media a few months ago with her fascinating memoir. I haven’t had a chance to finish reading her book yet; in fact, I just started the other day. But with every page, I…

Sexual Abuse Victim Demeaned and Put on Notice for Misconduct at Hebrew Theological College

Hebrew Theological College Dean Doctor Esther Shkop demeans student survivor of sexual abuse and puts her on notice for having the audacity to talk about her experience. Kaylie's* (a pseudonym) courage is to be applauded. The college's actions are outrageous.

Kaylie*, an 18 year old College student in Chicago, had recently posted this image on her Facebook page with this caption:

“I'm a survivor of sexual abuse.

This is not a new thing. I've been a survivor as long as you've known me.

Are you going to change your opinion of me just because three evil people took advantage of me?

Are you embarrassed of me? Are you willing to share our story?

Let's see who my real friends are.”

Just a few hours ago, Kaylie* received the following email from one of the dean’s at her school with the subject line “Breaking all Boundaries”:

From: Esther Shkop <> Date: Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 12:11 PM Subject: Breaking all Boundaries To: [REDACTED] Cc: "" …

When it's Someone you Know: Levi Moscowitz

I’ve been torn inside and out ever since I found out that someone who I otherwise knew to be a good friendly guy, someone that I shared good memories in yeshiva with, pleaded no contest to one of the most heinous crimes that has ever come across the arsenal of cases that I’m personally familiar with.

Levi Moscowitz committed suicide on Saturday in Griffith park in Los Angeles. This came just weeks after the charges against him as well as a very damning police report became public. Despite having known Levi for over 10 years and once considering him a close friend, I knew that sharing this information with the public was crucial to the safety of any and all children that he may have come into contact with. At the same time though, his death brings about some very unfortunate realities and issues that have yet to be addressed when confronting this cancer of sexual abuse.

While there are many who have expressed no remorse over his death, and others who even seemed to rejoice in it, I don’…