Thursday, November 29, 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 those opinions. 

Based on consultation with a wide range of mental health experts and therapists who informed us of the lack of scientifically rigorous studies that support the effectiveness of therapies to change sexual orientation, a review of literature written by experts and major medical and mental health organizations, and based upon reports of the negative and, at times, deleterious consequences to clients of some of the interventions endorsed by JONAH, the Rabbinical Council of America decided in 2011, as part of an overall statement on the Jewish attitude towards homosexuality, to withdraw its original letter referencing JONAH.  Despite numerous attempts by the RCA to have mention of that original letter removed from the JONAH website, our calls, letters, and emails remain unanswered.  As Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, president of the RCA, stated in 2011, "We want it taken down. JONAH said it was a letter of support, but if you read the letter it is not. They took an informational statement and reprinted it, and the use of that as an endorsement is an error."

We believe that properly trained mental health professionals who abide bythe values and ethics of their professions can and do make a difference in the lives of their patients and clients.  The RCA believes that responsible therapists, in partnership with amenable clients, should be able to work on
whatever issues those clients voluntarily bring to their session. Allegations made against JONAH lead us to question whether JONAH meets those standards.

Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, Chancellor of Yeshiva University and author of the 1974 Encyclopedia Judaica Year Book article, "Judaism and the Modern Attitude to Homosexuality," the first contemporary article to address the issue from the perspective of Jewish law and philosophy, had originally commended the work of JONAH.  In response to the negative reports about JONAH's activities and concerns expressed to him by respected mental health professionals, Dr. Lamm withdrew his endorsement of JONAH.

About the RCA:

The Rabbinical Council of America, with national headquarters in New York City, is a professional organization serving more than 1000 Orthodox Rabbis in the United States of America, Canada, Israel, and around the world. Membership is comprised of duly ordained Orthodox Rabbis who serve in positions of the congregational rabbinate, Jewish education, chaplaincies, and other allied fields of Jewish communal work.
For further information about this statement, you may contact:

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin

Rabbi Mark Dratch
Executive Vice President
The Rabbinical Council of America
305 Seventh Ave
New York, NY 10001



  2. Thank you Rabbis for withdrawing support from this organization.
    The founder and co President of Jonah has from the first day he started the organization raised doubts about it's honesty.
    Before he founded Jonah he had been disbarred based on a conviction for fraud. Your experience with his manipulation of your information is one of many examples of ethical problems with JONAH.

    Thank you also for accepting the many expert voices that in a large majority of medical opinion, do not believe that sexual orientations can be converted.

    People who are able and willing to abandon their sexual inclinations are few and far between. Those people can be encouraged by therapists that are not using quack theories.

    I am deeply saddened by the alternative voices of the Torah Declaration that still are allied with JONAH and their practices.
    Also troubling is that nothing is said in that declaration or elsewhere that offers to encourage gay jews who cannot or will not change their orientation to participate in Orthodox Judaism.

    I know you have no influence to change their minds, but I think that
    a theological philosophy is needed that explains that sexual orientation is a fact just as the Torah's prohibitions against same sex sexual relations is a fact. I do not agree that the two are contradictory.

  3. : Hi,
    I was wondering what everyone's opinion was. I recently found out I'm expectant (only about 3-4 weeks). I am a cardiology fellow and still have 2 days of cath left next week and then another month this year. I am hesitant to disclose my pregnancy to the department yet. dosimeter badgesIt's just so early. But also don't want to do everything that will harm my child. Sounds like the amount of radiation I'm exposed to is minimal. Do you think it's safe to at least finish off this month? (just 2 more days) Thanks!


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