Jewish Telegraph

From Jewish Telegraph October 1996

I am a Jewish mother with a large family and grandchildren. One of my sons is gay and is in a loving relationship with his partner. There has been much correspondence recently in the Jewish press concerning Judaism’s attitude to homosexuality. Last week, you published two letters from Messers Balcombe and Lux on the topic. One of these had the emotive heading of The Sad Sinners. Their letters are hardly worthy of response, as they reflect the two pillars of homophobia: bigotry and ignorance. Perhaps, however, I can address your readers on a broader level, from someone who is possibly more informed.

To Mr. Balcombe, I tell him that the word ‘gay’ is used as an acronym for ‘good as you’, I also tell him that Aids does not discriminate; it is not a gay disease. Finally, I tell him that my son is neither ‘sad’ nor a ‘pervert’. Judaism may indeed consider homosexuality as sinful and a perversion. Yet, I really find it hard to understand how the love, which I see between my son and his partner, can be viewed as anything other than beautiful and life-enhancing. What I do find sinful and a perversion, however, are the unholy actions perpetrated on an increasingly regular basis under the banner of orthodox Judaism. The names of Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir spring to mind.

Rabbi Shmuel Boteach recently asked: “Why are homosexuals deterred from keeping other commandments? Why are they subtly ostracised from their communities and their God?” For once, then, an orthodox rabbi has had the courage to acknowledge that gay and lesbian Jews are marginalised. Certainly, my son, who could give so much to the community, is a victim of this. I further applaud Rabbi Boteach because we are an orthodox family. My son was brought up in what we always felt to be a caring and close-knit community. In reality, that closeness has been proved to have been built on sand.

I love my son no less because he is gay. Along with my husband and other children and grandchildren, we accept his partner as part of our own family. Sadly, I know there are so many gay and lesbian Jewish children who are experiencing living hell because they dare not ‘come out’ to their parents, as they know that homosexuality is still one of the great taboos within our community.

The debate has now been opened. Progressive Judaism has made, and continues to make, an accommodation with homosexuals. Now is the time for orthodoxy to extend a hand of friendship and begin to really debate the issue.