Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gay & Ger - Hiding at the Seminary

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

There have been times in my life when I have felt like the prophet Jonah, pushed by life, or by God, to embrace the destiny from which I had run away.

In 1996, after three years working as student-rabbi for the Orthodox Jewish community of Naples, Italy, I quit my position. I had loved every moment of those years. The interactions with the various members of the community, the closeness that the position allowed me to have with them, the intellectual challenges, the spiritual high, had given new meaning to my life.

But I did feel a subtle, increasing pressure from the rabbinical establishment that I should get both an Orthodox smichah – ordination – and a wife. While I would have agreed to the smichah in a heartbeat (after all, it was my dream) I could not deal with the idea of a wife. I was a closeted gay man.[...]


  1. gerus wrote


    What kind of standards do the orthodox rabbis in Rome, Italy follow that they converted this fellow?

  2. In JTS a gay rabbi has sex with adult men, in Ner Israel a gay rabbi has sex with underage boys.

    1. In ner Israel a gay rabbi has sex with underage boys? Are you sure? how do you know that?

  3. This guy is obviously a non-Jew who went through an insincere conversion -- as he openly admits he intended to continue his homosexuality after going through the motions of "coverting."

  4. Congregation Shaar Zahav in San Francisco has an LGBT siddur which make quite fascinated reading


    Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in New York City has their LGBT own siddur which is only for Friday night


  5. Wow, look at the astonishing power of taiva, look what it can do to a person

  6. Re gerus @ 1:30 AM:

    If the man was genuinely closeted, how would they have been able to know? We also don't know how long his process took.

    Are you suggesting they should have found a way to verify that his emunah was strong enough that it could withstand the torture of being gay and frum?

    There are, from what I can tell, three ways to approach the geirus problem:

    1) Don't do geirim, period. Pro: it's risk-free. Con: it flies in the face of millenia of tradition, and comes at a huge cost, i.e. the loss of the infusion of genetic, sociological, and spiritual vitality that proper geirim have always brought to the Am.

    2) Make the geirus process impossibly rigorous (i.e. 10-year conversion process with only the "right" rabonnim). Pro: almost risk-free, plus it probably spares any need for post-geirus monitoring and counseling. Con: see 1) above, especially since any geirus process that long would likely make it almost impossible for said ger to marry and have kids. Also -- doesn't resolve the ongoing dispute over who gets to be megayer, which has become yet another proxy for who is a good Jew.

    3) "Yisroel, af al pi she'choteh..."--make the geirus process reasonably rigorous enough to ascertain kabbalas ha-mitzvos that is proper *at the time of conversion*. Make sure the would-be ger or gioress is a rational adult capable of informed consent and inform the would-be ger or gioress that A) many have succumbed to the temptation to backslide, B) the mikveh is a point of no return, C) he or she alone will incur any ultimate responsibility on his or her neshamah. None of this retroactive revocation of conversion narishkeit.

    Pro: it welcomes legitimate and committed geirim without putting impossible obstacles in front of them
    Con: it's risky, yes, and occasionally leads to problems like this person.

    Maybe I'm just setting up straw-man arguments here, but I think y'all can probably tell by now where my ideological sympathies lie.

  7. Gerus -

    Did you read the article?

    "The Orthodox rabbis in Rome who converted me five years earlier had no idea of my sexuality; I had not yet made peace with it myself. I actually believed that through shmirat mitzvot – strict observance of religious law – I could overcome it."

    Most botei din don't think to ask about the candidate's sexual orientation. If anything, they were probably more concerned about whether or not there was a Jewish woman waiting to marry him right after the conversion. Also, the candidate himself was very much in the closet and further believed that it was something he would control and eventually overcome.

    This has some interesting implications. Given that, after all due diligence, the candidate's committment to kabbalas mitzvos appears sincere, how much can the bein din consider the likelihood of self-transformation and successful shmiras mitzvos? What if this man had been a philanderer and womanizer? A pornography addict? An embezzler? Really loves eating shrimp. Should this affect the decision to allow the conversion?

    Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the beis din did *not* know about the candidate's predilictions, and that this candidate was truly committed to abstaining from these sins after conversion. After conversion, however, he fell back into sin and even later decided that these things are not so bad after all. What would be the status of his conversion?

    Is homosexuality the same, or is it different?

  8. This man is a fraud and a charlatan. He admits as much in his essay. For that reason he should not be a rabbi. How can someone who intentionally withholds salient facts about himself in order to get what he wants, be a religious role model? How can he ever advise anyone about ideas of honesty, integrity or even honor? This is what JTS promotes? Good heavens!!!

  9. Tikun Olam??? To publicly and brazenly flaunt aversion to ratzon HaBorei???

  10. Yes, I know the sexual urge is supposed to be different and all but...

    A man has an obligation to hear the megillah and get somewhat tipsy on Purim. Even if he has no interest in the story or alcohol, he still has to.

    A man has an obligation to eat matzah on Pesach. Even if he can't stand the taste, he still has to.

    A man has an obligation to get married and have children. Why is this suddenly so different for him?

  11. Gerus, it is very obvious from the article that this man hid his being gay from the rabbis:

    "I was a closeted gay man.
    The Orthodox rabbis in Rome who converted me five years earlier had no idea of my sexuality; I had not yet made peace with it myself."

    Had he been honest with them, they
    presumably would not have converted him.

  12. Men who have sex with children are not gay, they are sick!

  13. @Leo,

    The Ner Yisrael rabbi may be closeted & even evil, but at least he has admitted to all interested parties that he is wrong.

  14. How thoroughly weirdApril 14, 2010 at 1:43 AM

    A practicing gay Gentile named, basically, "deJesus" "converts" via an Orthodox beis din only to get a Conservative "smicha" so that he can "serve" on a pulpit celebrating life with a partner named "Daniel"?!
    Had he not written the article, I'd be certain this were the premise of a silly joke.

    A short thread of comments on said "conversion" can be found here:

  15. How thoroughly weirdApril 14, 2010 at 2:21 AM

    Here's his gerus story pre-coming out:

  16. JTS is so obviously wrong. They will only lose by trying to sprinkle mei chatas on this forbidden activity.

    They are now 'mesayeh l'devar aveira.' If we don't protest, so are we.

    The writer of this piece knows full well what's going on, too. He was not fooled. He was looking for a fig leaf, and he found theirs.

  17. Clearly he never sincerely converted or became a ger.

  18. Gerus: They didn't know and he didn't tell.

    By the way, I want to come out as a heterosexual. I know that will surprise everyone... Sound stupid? Sound psycho? Well, to me, the whole homosexual urge to tell the world proves to me that homosexuality is a psychiatric illness.

  19. From a Jew:

    Leo said...

    In JTS a gay rabbi has sex with adult men, in Ner Israel a gay rabbi has sex with underage boys.

    That's like saying tropper is a typical heterosexual charedi man.

    A person who has sex with children is a dangerous pervert. A decent human being with homosexual inclinations is not. And even under the strictest halachic interpretation, being a homosexual is not a sin. One certain homosexual act is the sin.

    There is much scientific evidence showing differences between the male brain and the female brain in humans. The concept of a female in a male's body has been shown to be true.

    It seems all humans begin as females, and different hormones secreted both in utero and after birth affect physical changes that trigger the development of males (as well as maturity in females). Something going wrong can leave a female psyche in a male body. You have compassion for someone like that.

    A rapist is a rapist no matter what gender he rapes. The same applies to any child molester.


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