Rabbi Helfgot’s Statement of Principles urges sensitivity toward gays in Orthodoxy
Excerpts from the Statement of Principles
Embarrassing, harassing, or demeaning someone with a homosexual orientation or same-sex attraction is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.
The question of whether sexual orientation is primarily genetic, or rather environmentally generated, is irrelevant to our obligation to treat human beings with same-sex attractions and orientations with dignity and respect.
We affirm the religious right of those with a homosexual orientation to reject therapeutic approaches they reasonably see as useless or dangerous.
Jews with a homosexual orientation who live in the Orthodox community confront serious emotional, communal, and psychological challenges that cause them and their families great pain and suffering…. Rabbis and mental health professionals must provide responsible and ethical assistance to congregants and clients dealing with those human challenges.
The decision as to whether to be open about one’s sexual orientation should be left to such individuals, who should consider their own needs and those of the community. We are opposed on ethical and moral grounds to both the “outing” of individuals who want to remain private and to coercing those who desire to be open about their orientation to keep it hidden.
Jews with homosexual orientations or same sex-attractions should be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community. As appropriate with regard to gender and lineage, they should participate and count ritually, be eligible for ritual synagogue honors, and generally be treated in the same fashion and under the same halakhic and hashkafic framework as any other member of the synagogue they join. Conversely, they must accept and fulfill all the responsibilities of such membership, including those generated by communal norms or broad Jewish principles that go beyond formal halakhah.
Halakhic Judaism cannot give its blessing and imprimatur to Jewish religious same-sex commitment ceremonies and weddings, and halakhic values proscribe individuals and communities from encouraging practices that grant religious legitimacy to gay marriage and couplehood. But communities should display sensitivity, acceptance and full embrace of the adopted or biological children of homosexually active Jews in the synagogue and school setting, and we encourage parents and family of homosexually partnered Jews to make every effort to maintain harmonious family relations and connections.
Jews who have an exclusively homosexual orientation should, under most circumstances, not be encouraged to marry someone of the other gender, as this can lead to great tragedy, unrequited love, shame, dishonesty, and ruined lives.
More on: Rabbi Helfgot's Statement of Principles urges sensitivity toward gays in Orthodoxy
During his more than 20 years as an Orthodox Jewish educator, Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot has heard many stories from friends and colleagues about the treatment of homosexuals in his movement.
“I haven’t done a systematic study, but I know anecdotally that there are some extremely sensitive rabbis,” he told The Jewish Standard.
But sometimes, he added, homosexual congregants or students “can’t be honest with their rabbis because of the nature of their orientation. They would have no place in their synagogue or school, or they hear hurtful things from the pulpit and see no future in the movement.”
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