Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chalamti: An Introduction

בראשית לז:ט "ויספר אתו לאחיו ויאמר הנה חלמתי חלום עוד..."ד
Genesis 37:9 [A]nd he [Yosef] said to his brothers, “Behold, I have dreamt another dream...”
The Parsha of Vayeishev, which we shall read this coming Shabbos, introduces us to Yosef as a dreamer. The favorite of Yaakov’s twelve sons, Yosef was hated by his brothers for his visions of dominance over them. Rashi notes that Yaakov reprimanded Yosef not for the audacity of his visions, which were interpreted by Yosef as prophecies of him ruling over his entire family, but for the fact that Yosef bred hatred against himself for recounting these visions to his relations.
On August 28th, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. echoed Yosef’s words. “I have a dream,” he called out from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. For nearly half a century these words have served as battle cries for individuals and groups that remain misunderstood and misplaced by society as they fight for their civil rights. Each time a Yosef or a Dr. King has arisen and been strengthened by these words, there has been a Yaakov to reprimand him (or her) for the hatred these words bred. In their modern form, these pessimists ask the dreamers to await their future in quiet. They fear the possibility that these dreams, like Yosef’s, will breed hatred. Any hatred is misplaced and bred from a closed minded misunderstanding.
I have, along with my friends, dreamt a dream. We envision a time where we can live our lives as gay frum Jews. As the larger American society debates gay marriage, we gay orthodox Jews have only recently begun to gain recognition as a social group. Emerging from the rug beneath which we were swept, we remain a puzzle to many. We are attempting to live our lives within the boundaries of Halacha while accepting and experiencing our sexuality. This balance is not an easy one to maintain and it is frustrated by those that would have us return to the fringes of society. They prefer us silenced and ignored.  But Yosef’s prophecies were realized and Dr. King’s dream moves forward still.
Our cause has been championed by the voices of few, not because we are few in number, but because it takes courage beyond quantification to accept our challenge. Many orthodox Jews, when faced with the realization of their homosexuality, burrow deep into denial. These Jews attempt reparative therapy and plan on marrying women, hoping that no one will discover their secret as they hide behind masks of orthodoxy. Others accept their sexuality, but see it as incompatible with Orthodox Judaism. These individuals will begrudgingly cast off their orthodox identity as they embrace this new found aspect of their identity.  These paths are riddled with both potholes and heartbreak. The middle ground, those among us that accept our sexuality and remain steadfast in our faith and practice, continues to be chosen to by a small but growing number as we recount our dream and “out” ourselves within the orthodox world.
This blog marks the addition of my voice to the few who speak out on behalf of our cause. The opinions and views will be my own. Sometimes I will agree with my friends, and at other times I will dissent. I will do my best to write honestly and openly. I look forward to questions, comments and suggestions.
I have dreamt a dream.

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