Saturday, December 21, 2013

All this happened!
A modern orthodox rabbi "comes out" in support of gay rights.

Gay marriage becomes a possibility in Utah

and in New Mexico

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Moth

Great clip from The Moth.

"The G-d that we believe in can be present in a gay relationship just as much as He can be present in a straight relationship."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

That dream

Have you ever had one of those mornings where, while waking up, you desperately try to cling to those last few minutes of sleep and those final moments of your dream because it was so . . . majestic?

This morning I did not want to get out of bed.  The golden autumn sun was streaming through my window and all I wanted was another opportunity to experience the dream that, by my reckoning, had not yet finished.  It wasn't a dream of wealth, luxury, or great adventures; it was a dream of friendship and love.  The scene calling me back to slumber was simple.  In it, I was surrounded by my friends and my husband was heading out for the day.  He leaned over and gave me a peck on the cheek, gracing me with love as he headed out the door.  That was it, that was the dream.  I thought I would write about it because that same dream--perhaps not in the actual visual, but in the underlying concept--is what prompted me to name this blog.  I do not have grandiose dreams for myself and I have no desire to thrust my personal life into the public sphere.  All I want for myself and my friends is to experience the joy of a love untainted by social bigotry.  That's my dream, and it is the one I will cling to until it is realized. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Last Year's Mazal

Suzanne Curchod, the 18th Century Parisian salonist, is attributed with having said that "fortune does not change men, it unmasks them."

Had you asked me a year ago where I would be today or what changes I would undergo in the past year, never in a million years would I have predicted this future.  The past twelve months have been a roller coaster.  Each unexpected turn was followed with an equally unanticipated drop.  I learned to follow the flow of  life, to stop attempting to control my roll with the punches.

On numerous occasions over the past few months, I began writing a new post, only to discard the draft as inadequate.  I found myself unable to relay my emotional state and my experience--often because I was not sure exactly what those were.

There were a few months during which I lost touch with G-d.  I was facing a number of personal hardships--a broken heart and dashed dreams--and felt that my life was out of control.  It all began when I met the man of my dreams.  On paper, he was everything I could ever want and, in short time, I realized that he was both the man of my dreams and completely toxic for me.  Immediately thereafter I tried to explain my religious, personal, and political hopes and desires as a gay Orthodox Jew [to my parents].  Though willing to tolerate me and hopeful that I would witness those dreams coming to fruition, they could not bring themselves to try and see the world through my eyes or care about the things I prioritize.  To top it all off, I got rejected from my dream job.  The combination of these three events in such a short period of time knocked me off my path...I was devastated and felt abandoned by G-d.  Try as I might, I could not connect to G-d in the way I used to.  Every "trick" I previously used to find spiritual comfort ended in failure.  Prayer, meditation, etc...they all left me feeling stopped up-like I was suffering from a religious form of writers' block.

Finally, after months of desperation, I realized that I had begun traveling on a different path; I began approaching G-d from a new vantage-point and that I needed to find new ways to express this new relationship.  I also realized that I would need to relax into this relationship and let time guide me and my spiritual expression.

I'm glad to be done with last year's fortune.  Last year was incredibly difficult and I'm still picking up the pieces.  I'm grateful that I had the chance to experience such a challenging period--I'm certainly stronger for it--But I hope this coming year is calmer and easier. 

Minor edit in brackets, October 3rd, 2013.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Five people who made me understand my faith.

As I'm sure you're all well aware, last week five members of the United States Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.  Five of the justices, a simple majority of the court, ruled that the federal government may not discriminate against marriages recognized by individual states.  Wow.  A huge victory for the gay rights moment. 
On Wednesday afternoon, less than ten hours after the ruling was announced, I found myself in New York's Greenwich Village, celebrating at a rally in front of the famous Stonewall Inn.  Despite the hot weather, I felt chills as it dawned on me that the federal government would no longer be able to discriminate against me* and as I realized that I was actually taking part in history.  I found myself beaming as the rabbi of a local community spoke about the role Jews played in this monumental achievement.  For once these two aspects of my identity wove seamlessly together.  These are the times that will come to fill the pages of history books as civil rights and equality become undeniable fact and not mere aspirations.
The next day I sent a message to a friend of mine telling him that I appreciated spending that significant moment with him by my side.  When he responded by expressing how he looked forward to sharing the story with his future children, chills again ran down my spine as I realized that the sentiment he expressed is precisely what we are supposed to feel daily (and especially at Pesach) as we recall the Exodus from Egypt.  Though not bound in slavery like Moses and his peers, this decision certainly was an unshackling and I consider myself blessed to have partaken, if only as a bystander.  I don't plan on having children of my own, but I too look forward to sharing the story with future generations.  I thank G-d for providing the LGBT community with this gift and I'm incredibly glad that I can relate this experience with my faith.

P.S.  I'm sorry I haven't written in a long time.  Life has kept me far busier than I would like and I find myself forced to place blogging on a side burner.  This, however, I needed to express. 

*There's still a lot of areas, such as employment rights, that this did not rectify and it only protects those marriages recognized in states like New York and Massachusetts that specifically permit gay marriage; the decision doesn't affect states like Texas or North Dakota where marriage is still limited to one man and one woman. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Attention Parents and Family Members

Though I'm super busy and don't have time to write, other people are very active.  For those of you who are parents or other family members of LGBT Jews, be sure to attend the event listed in the flyer below.

Friday, November 23, 2012


The post below first appeared in Tribe Magazine on Nov. 22, 2012.  I am neither the author nor do I know his identity. 

Growing Up Gay in an Orthodox World: My Final Game of Tag

When I was in the sixth grade, I would count the minutes every morning until recess. I was pretty athletic, though I wasn’t into most organized sports. But I loved playing tag. It was simple: all you had to do was be faster than the slowest runner. If you could outrun the weakest player you wouldn’t lose, and if you didn’t lose you won. But I never really felt like a winner.
I remember there was this one boy who always wanted to play. Shlomo (this wasn’t his real name) was thin and lanky, and not exactly popular. He was obsessed with Britney Spears, and liked to sing and dance to pop songs. Most of the other kids in my class didn’t like to play with him, but when they did they would make sure to keep him tagged “it” for almost the entire game. They battered him with insults, shouting at him and calling him “homo” and “faggot,” and sometimes they even got violent. It was hard to tell who was really chasing whom. At the time, I didn’t understand what it was about Shlomo that made others so angry. I felt terrible about the way most of my classmates were treating him, inside and outside the classroom. And yet I did nothing.
Almost a decade later, I found myself in a position similar to his, only the playground was bigger. At the end of my freshman year of college, I came out to my parents. It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life. At the time, there was nothing more humiliating to me than admitting I was gay. So when my father asked me, I panicked. I could not bring myself to utter those three letters, but I thought that if I lied again I would only be dragging out the inevitable. Then I realized that a few seconds had already gone by. I was silently answering the question I had been debating with myself every day since the fourth grade. There was no going back. I thought my life was over.
As it turned out, my parents were far more understanding than I ever could have expected. But they could never really understand my experience. They would never know what it was like to believe as a child that at some point in my life the ones I loved most would not want me anymore. That all my fears would be realized, and all my dreams would be dashed.
When I first arrived at yeshiva in Israel two summers before I started college, I was optimistic. I thought that I had been given a chance to fix myself. I thought that if I could just stick it out and make myself into the person I wanted to be, everything would be fine. But that’s not how things turned out. It seemed like everywhere I turned my friends would be talking about girls. Girls they knew, girls they saw in movies and on TV, girls they had been with, and girls they wanted to get with. And every time I sat silently. Eventually, people began to notice. They prodded me about whether I liked this girl or that. Being a terrible liar, my answers were always obviously forced. I fooled a few, but not everyone.
Then they started asking me whether I was gay. I tried wiggling out of answering, and often found myself saying, “If I were gay, I’d lie to you anyway.” Wasn’t I clever? But one time there was this huge third-year who replied, “So you’re not gay? Good. Because I’d kill a gay person if I had the chance.” He explained that the Torah had told him to. That was my dorm counselor. He was considered a masmid.
I was always a good student, I followed the rules, and I like to think I was a good friend. But at the time, none of this seemed like enough for anyone. I had to be more than all that. I had to be more than I could be. I don’t know whether I can fully express in words what it is like to realize that no matter how hard you try you can’t change. To be constantly worried that someone will eventually figure you out. To be told, and to believe, that you are an abomination. I can’t tell you how badly it hurt for me to learn that perhaps the greatest halachic authority of recent times had written in eternal words that I was the way I was because I wanted to rebel against God.
My sexuality is a drop of who I am, but it’s a drop that paints the way I interact with the people in my life, both guys and girls. It has helped determine so many of the decisions I have made and so many of the conclusions about life I have drawn that I can’t think of a single one unrelated, in some way or another, to my being gay. My experiences dealing with bigotry from rabbis, neighbors, and “friends” have helped mold me into the person I am today. If I weren’t gay, I am sure I would be an entirely different person.
Still, being gay in the frum community is difficult and has led me to reconsider my past beliefs and my feelings toward my community. There are many, several of my rabbis from shul and yeshiva included, who continue to propagate lies about gay people being mentally ill, being sinful, being a source of societal corruption, and even being the cause of recent natural disasters. I have heard my own neighbors say that they would not marry their children into a family with a gay member. Among my peers, it’s been joke of the day for as long as I can remember to call anyone and anything that is annoying, gay. But it just isn’t funny when you consider that by law I could get fired in most states just for being gay, regardless of how I lead my life. It isn’t funny when you learn that forty percent of homeless youth in New York City are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), and that in parts of the world people are still being hanged by their governments for being gay.
I’m a regular guy who wants the same things in life that everyone else wants. I want to build a family, I want job security, I want to be treated equally, and I want to be valued not for whom I love but for how much I love. And I hope that by coming out to my closest friends and family, and by telling a bit of my story to you fellow friends, classmates, and Jews, I have begun to help turn the tables. With every day I am more proud to tell people who I really am. I am done running.