Programs & Resources


 

For LGBTQ+

 

LGBTQ+ Jew?

 

Do you think you might be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender? Do you have questions about sexual orientation or gender identity? Are you thinking about “coming out”? Are you struggling to stay in your community? Are you unsure how to approach your rabbi about these topics? Do you want to meet other people like you?

Eshel offers several sources of support for LGBTQ+ Orthodox Jews, their families, and their communities.

In case of emergency

 When It’s a matter of Life and Death: Pikuach Nefesh

If you are considering taking your life, don’t hesitate to reach out for help:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

More than 150 crisis centers currently participate in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. Each center receives calls from designated areas of the country, creating a nationwide coverage area. Calls to 1-800-273-TALK are routed to the closest available crisis center.

1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. It operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

Trevor Helpline: 1-866-488-7386

http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Suicide.org

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support For a full list of suicide hotlines in the and out of the United States, click here.

Get Support

Third Thursdays:

Monthly Eshel Get-together

in New York

Calling all adult members of the queer community who are Orthodox, formerly Orthodox or “Ortho-curious.” If you are interested in connecting with other individuals who are exploring their Orthodox LGBTQ identity please join us!

Members will have the opportunity to mingle and engage in peer-led discussion in a casual and confidential environment.

Eshel staff members, Chavie Weisberger, Jeremy Novich, and Gabriela Tilevitz will be hosting the group.

Email gabriela@eshelonline.org to reserve a spot and to get the exact location.

When: Third Thursday of the month at 7 pm
Where: Eshel office/Makom Hadash 125 Maiden Lane, Suite 8B

Refreshments served and social time at every meeting.

 

Just want to talk to someone?

In addition to finding us on Facebook and Twitter, you can call us any time from anywhere for a consultation:

1-724-ESHEL01

(1-724-374-3501)

If you are in the New York area, Eshel staff are available to support you with an in-person meeting, resources and referrals.

Contact info@eshelonline.org to schedule a meeting.

Not in New York?

The Eshel family stretches across the United States.  Sometimes there are get-togethers pop up in other cities for socializing and support.

This is true for LGBTQ individuals and their parents and families.

If you are interested in participating or organizing a group, or just want a place to go for Shabbat or a holiday, please let us know by writing to info@eshelonline.org.

 

In Los Angeles and beyond?

If you are in the Los Angeles area, you can call our Warm Line. We have partnered with JQInternational’s warm line to train volunteers who are sensitive to the needs of Orthodox LGBTQ individuals.

Call 855.JQI.HLPS (855-574-4577) or email: warmline@jqinternational.org.

Community Events

Join us and meet others in the Eshel community at one of our events.

Jewish LGBTQ+ Organizations

LGBTQ Jewish Organizations in North America

GLYDSA: The Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva Day School Alumni Association
Established in 1995, our mission is to build a community for LGBT Jews of all ages, from Orthodox or traditional backgrounds, and to integrate their Jewish and gay identities, in a self-affirming, confidential and positive manner, through social events and other activities throughout the year.

JQYouth
JQY is a social/support group made up of frum/formerly frum* gay, bi, trans and lesbian Jews ages 17-30.  They meet regularly for monthly meetings and informal social get togethers. In addition, there are an anonymous online discussion groups.  JQY is based in  New York based, with members all over the world.   Their Yeshiva Inclusion Project helps people find out whether an Israel Program is appropriate for them.

Keshet
Keshet is a grassroots organization dedicated to creating a fully inclusive Jewish community for GLBT people.

Ma’agal
A support group for Jewish LBTQ women facing questions of sexuality, gender, and religion. Each meeting is facilitated by Chani Getter, and includes sharing and discussion. Confidentiality, support, and compassionate listening are central values. Ma’agal meets the first Tuesday of every month in Manhattan.

Nehirim
Nehirim builds community for GLBT Jews, partners, and allies, and is the largest national provider of programming for the GLBT Jewish community.

Or Chayim

Or Chayim is a start-up Shabbat & holidays community experience for unaffiliated, traditional and Orthodox LGBTQ Jews. Located in New York City’s Upper West Side.   Spiritually uplifting Orthodox minyan, hot kiddush, three course kosher Shabbat & holidays dinner. Check the website for meeting dates and times.

LGBTQ Jewish Organizations in Israel

A Wider Bridge
A Wider Bridge seeks to inspire Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Jews to deepen their Jewish identity through connection with Israel and to develop stronger connections between the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) communities in Israel and North America.

Bat-Kol
Bat-kol – Religious Lesbian Organization was founded to allow women to fulfill both their religious and lesbian identity; to make it possible for women to live in loving relationships, to raise children without deception, but nevertheless stay committed to their religion. This organization is located in Israel.

Havruta
Havruta offers social and support networks for religious LGBT people in Israel. Beyond being a safe haven, Havruta actively works to inform and educate the religious public about LGBT issues in their communities.

HOD
The Hod website is the first independent site for religious homosexual Jews, providing a platform for open-minded discussion in order to facilitate understanding about being gay and Orthodox.

Jerusalem Open House
The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (JOH) is a leading organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and their allies in the heart of Jerusalem. As a grassroots, activist community center, JOH provides direct services to all LGBTQ individuals in Jerusalem and its surrounding communities, while working to secure LGBTQ rights in Israeli society at large.

Eshel Speakers Bureau

Eshel Speakers – Training, Bureau, and Educational Initiatives

Eshel runs a number of educational initiatives, including training and empowerment of speakers and lay teachers in the Orthodox community. Eshel’s Speakers Bureau (ESB) is designed to provide a forum for Orthodox people to share their stories in a non confrontational manner. The trainings are conducted yearly in order to provide young Orthodox LGBTQ+ Jews and allies with a better understanding of story sharing as a means of movement from within the frum community. Speakers will be sent to various Orthodox communities to tell their stories in ways that do not threaten, but instead motivate people to make a real difference.

We have adapted the work of Marshall Ganz of Harvard University to create the Eshel Speakers Bureau Public Narrative Workshop Guide which serves as a foundation for all our trainings. Professor Ganz’s work on public narrative is particularly suited to sharing our stories and experiences as ways to build understanding of the pastoral and emotional issues faced by LGBT Orthodox Jews.

Orthodox synagogues, Hillels, JCCs, and other organizations can book Eshel speakers to talk about topics including:

  • Coming out in an Orthodox environment
  • Maintaining a Halachic lifestyle while being LGBT
  • Bullying and homophobia in educational settings
  • Maintaining relationships with family

Each institution will have the opportunity to work with Eshel to customize a panel for its specific needs.

If you’d like to find out about the next Eshel Speaker Bureau Training, contact Rabbi Steve Greenberg at: Steve@eshelonline.org

Books, Films, Blogs, & More!

Books

Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View by Rabbi Chaim Rapoport

Keep Your Wives Away from Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires Edited by Miryam Kabakov

Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition by Rabbi Steven Greenberg

Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community by Noach Dzmura

Films

DevOut
DEVOUT is a 37-minute documentary film that follows the lives of seven women in New York and New Jersey who are trying to reconcile their alternative sexuality with their commitment to Orthodox Judaism. Their faith has always condemned homosexuality in the harshest terms. Find out how Chani, Pam, Elissa, Hayley, Lina and “Miriam” have dealt with being “unacceptable” while still remaining devoted to their strict faith and community.

Trembling Before G-d
Landmark film about gay Orthodox Jews. Site features curriculum and discussion guide. (2001)

Keep Not Silent
Keep Not Silent (Hebrew: את שאהבה נפשיEt Sheaava Nafshi) is a 2004 documentary film by Israeli director Ilil Alexander about three lesbians in Jerusalem.  It documents the journey of some of the individuals in the first “Orthodyke” group in Jerusalem.

Ha-Sodot (The Secrets)
An Israeli woman (Ania Bukstein) from a strict religious household falls in love with her classmate (Michal Shtamler) at a women’s seminary.  This 2007 film tells the story of forbidden love and learning between two women.

 Mom and Dad, I Have Something to Tell You
“Mom and Dad: I Have Something to Tell You” is a documentary film (2010) about the journey parents whose children tell them they are gay are forced to take. Their life changes in a second and a challenging and slow journey, for all the family, begins, taking them from denial to understanding, from anger to the need to be there for him or her, from shame to acceptance.

V’Ahavta  (And Thou Shalt Love)
A 2008 Israeli short about Ohad, a young orthodox Jew, who tries to extinguish his homosexual tendencies. But when his boyfriend returns from the army, he finds he can no longer evade his feelings and questions within himself, and between himself and God.

 

Online Resources

Orthodox Mom of Gay Kid
A proud, Orthodox Mom talks about her teenage son coming out, having a gay child in the Modern Orthodox community, and LGBTQ issues in the Orthodox community at large.

A Gay Orthodox Jew
A thoughtful chronicle of reconciling Jewish and gay identities.

And If Not Now, When?
Articulating a vision for gay-positive observant Judaism.

No Mom, This is Not Just a Phase
Stories and Thoughts of a Gay, Orthodox Jew

Another Jewish Kid With Gay Parents
Started by a teenager living in a modern orthodox community with a married lesbian mom and a straight dad who created the site with the hope that teenagers with any variation of the gay parent/religious upbringing combination would find it and connect.

The Chalamti Blog
Discourses from the life of a gay Orthodox Jew, written by a young man. (“Chalamti” translates as “I dreamed” in Hebrew.)

The Dina Listserv
A place for male-to-female and female-to-male transsexuals who are Orthodox Jews to meet and discuss pertinent issues. The list is also open to transsexuals who are no longer Orthodox as long as they retain respectful and positive views of Orthodox Judaism.

FrumGays
A listserv for GLBT Jews who are or have been Orthodox, or attended Yeshivas or Hebrew Day Schools.

Frum Gay Girl
A formerly married, chassidic woman with a large family, staying within the Orthodox community and talking about what that’s like for her family, her children, and herself.

Gay Gevalt
This website includes a calendar of Queer Jewish events, a blog, and a shop.

Gotta Give ‘Em Hope
Chaim Levin grew up Lubavitch Hasidic Orthodox in Crown Heights, Brooklyn New York and was often bullied as a kid. After being thrown out of yeshiva after admitting his attraction to men, undergoing “reparative therapy,” and attempting suicide, he finally emerged a proud gay Jewish man. These are his musings.

It’s Like Disapproving of Rain
A gay woman writes about encountering — and countering — homophobia at the Shabbos table, along with her journey to embrace herself, and her desire to have a nice, traditional Jewish family…with another nice Jewish girl by her side.

Kirtzono
Started by an Orthodox parent, Kirtzono is an anonymous forum for participants to share thoughts, stories and new glosses on Jewish texts and holidays.

Orthogays
A list for Gay Jewish men who are Orthodox. It was created to have a place where Orthodox Gay Jewish men (including those who are “Frum From Birth,” “Ba’al Tshuvah,” Modern Orthodox, Datti Le’umi, Haredi, Hardali, etc.) can meet or talk with others who are currently frum (Orthodox).

Orthodox, Gay and Married Jew
The unique perspective of a gay Orthodox man, formerly married to a woman, trying to navigate his complicated identity amidst his family and community.

Jewish Pink Elephant
Ideas of an American Syrian Orthodox Gay Jew by Rich Dweck. Rich provides a blend of resources dealing with Judaism and Homosexuality, along with important modern Jewish issues.

Transgender Orthodox Jews
Rabbi Dr. Zev Farber provides an analysis of the challenges–both halakhic and social–faced by transgender individuals in the Orthodox Jewish world, with some suggested resolutions.

Temicha
Temicha is an online support group for Orthodox Jewish parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

The Transgender Teen’s Survival Guide
A blog created for humans/beings of all ages who have questions concerning their gender identity. This blog is designed to be a safe and supportive space where you are able to share your stories and concerns, as well as receive help and resources!

The “Tzitz Eliezer” Responsa
Beth Orens summarizes the responsa of the “Tzitz Eliezer” on the halachic status of transsexual people.

Tirtzah: A Community of Frum Queer Women
Tirtzah is a community of Frum Queer women who gather online and in person to celebrate and study Judaism, and to support one another in living integrated religious lives. Tirtzah has an e-mail list, a blog, and events in the New York and New Jersey area.

2010 Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community

 

For Parents

 

Parent of an LGBTQ+ Jew?

 

Eshel-66Has your child just “come out” to you as LGBTQ+? Consider reading this first.

Are you struggling to accept your child’s gender or sexual identity?

Do you want to make your community a safer place for your LGBTQ+ child?

Have you thought about talking to your Rabbi about your LGBTQ+ child but don’t know how?

 

hug

Eshel offers several sources of support for Orthodox parents of LGBTQ+ children.

Get Support

 

Parent Retreat

Eshel’s Annual National Parent Retreat, located on the East Coast, brings Orthodox parents of LGBTQ children from around the country together for a shabbat of community, learning, and support.

Call-In Support

Eshel runs a monthly call-in Parent Chaburah Group to offer support to the Orthodox parents of LGBTQ children. Join us the first Wednesday of every month at 8pm CT/9pm EST. Email miryam@eshelonline.org for a brief intake and the call-in number. For more info, click here.

Regional Groups

Eshel organizes regional in-person Chaburah Groups for parents. Contact info@eshelonline.org to participate in or organize a parent group in your area.

Texts & Online Resources

1727 wives writing 02

Books

 

Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View by Rabbi Chaim Rapoport

Keep Your Wives Away from Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires Edited by Miryam Kabakov

Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition by Rabbi Steven Greenberg

Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community by Noach Dzmura

Online Resources

Wrestling with God
A collection of over 160 classical Jewish texts curated by Rabbi Steve Greenberg. These are the primary source texts Rabbi Greenberg explored in depth in his groundbreaking book, Wrestling with God & Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition. Here you can create customizable text-study and source sheets using the Wrestling with God texts for use in classrooms, synagogues, and other educational venues.

Bibliography of Contemporary Orthodox Responses to Homosexuality
by the Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions

Another Jewish Kid With Gay Parents
A website and support network for kids of Orthodox Jewish LGBTQ parents.

 

For a list of organizations and other resources for Traditional LGBT Jews, click here.

For Shuls, Communities, & Allies

Be an Ally to LGBTQ+ Jews

Learn how to support the LGBTQ+ Jews in your life, and help Eshel promote inclusion and acceptance in your shuls, schools, and communities.

When Someone Comes Out to You

IMG_0787

Coming “Out”

“Coming out” is when a person tells someone else that he or she is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Someone who is coming out feels close enough to you and trusts you enough to be honest and risk losing you as a friend or rabbi. If a congregant or student, child or friend tells you they are lesbian, gay, bisexual , or transgender, they may look to you, their teacher or religious leader, for guidance. They are taking a huge step, have and are most likely concerned about losing you, their community, family and friends.

How To Offer Support 

Here are some suggestions that you may wish to consider:

  • Thank them for having the courage to tell you. Choosing to tell you indicates that they most likely respect and trust you and want to include you in their life.
  • It’s okay if you feel uncomfortable or upset. You can say that you may need some time to feel comfortable but this does not mean that you are no longer his or her rabbi, teacher, friend, etc.
  • Respect their confidentiality. It might take a while until he or she is ready to tell others. This should be done on their time schedule.
  • The main fear for people coming out is that their friends and family will reject them. So, tell them that you still care for him or her. Be the friend, father, rabbi, sister, teacher (etc.) you have always been. Make it clear that you will not reject them, forbid them from coming to shul, school or home.
  • Do not say, “Are you sure?” When people come out to you, it most likely means that they have gone over this question thousands of times in their own mind, and they are sure!
  • If the person is transgender, try to support him or her by using the name and pronoun (“he,” “she,” or “ze”) they prefer. If they want a particular name and pronoun to be used by others, try to help other people to respect their desired name and pronoun.
  • Don’t shy away from bringing up issues around sexual orientation or gender identity, but remember that you can still talk about the topics you always talked about, whether these are music, movies, politics, or other subjects.
  • If the person is coming out to you because they need advice or support, try to learn about organizations and publications – either LGBTQ+ and/or Jewish – that would be most supportive and helpful to your friend. It might be important for your friend to know that such support exists. For a list of resources, see the LGBTQ+ section above.
  • Don’t assume this person is attracted to you. It is a myth that gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are attracted to everyone who is of the same sex.
  • Don’t assume that your friend who is transgender will automatically be attracted to the same sex as the gender with which your friend identifies. For example, a friend who was raised as a girl but who identifies as a boy may be attracted to boys, girls, or both and may identify as gay, straight, or bisexual.
  • It’s never too late. If someone has come out to you before and you feel badly about how you handled it, you can always go back and let them know you would like to understand their situation and try again.

Adapted for Eshel (www.eshelonline.org) from the Youth Service Bureau of Wellington, Ottawa.

Merchav Batuach
MerchavBatuachGet involved with Merchav Batuach, a Safe Space training seminar for Jewish campus leaders!

Meet & engage with fellow students and learn to build a safe and sensitive network for your LGBTQ+ peers within an Orthodox environment.

Complete language sensitivity training.

Become a certified Merchav Batuach representative on your campus.

To learn more, email merchavbatuach@eshelonline.org

Welcoming Shuls

We invite rabbis, congregational and community leaders, LGBTQ+ people, their families and friends to take part in creating welcoming Orthodox congregations.

Help your community provide a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ people.  If you think you are ready to create a welcoming community, here are some questions to help assess your or your community’s readiness:

Knowledge:

    • Are you open to learning about the lives of the LGBTQ+ members of your community?
    • Do you want families with LGBTQ+ members to be able to share information about them without fear of discrimination or shame when they share this information?

Preventing hate and discrimination:

    • Are you ready to stand publicly against ignorant, homophobic, or hateful comments made by community members or leaders in your community? Are you ready to approach them privately?
    • Are you ready to take a stand publicly against bullying in communities and schools that targets nonconforming gender expression and sexual orientation?

Spiritual and communal needs:

    • Is your shul ready to serve the religious and communal needs of its LGBTQ+ members and families by providing an open and non-discriminatory environment for them?
    • While we do not expect Orthodox rabbis to perform same-sex weddings, will you and your rabbi help LGBTQ+ community members and their families celebrate milestones in their lives?
    • While poskim continue to explore possible responses to the challenges faced by transgender people, will you remain personally respectful and engaged on a human level to the challenges that trans people and their families face?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, then you may be ready to make your synagogue more welcoming to LGBTQ+ people but you may not know how to proceed.  Read below for some action steps you can take.

Taking ActionASCALON_STUDIOS,_David_Ascalon,_Lincoln_Square_Synagogue_Ark_New_York

Here are some actions to take to make your community an accepting environment for LGBTQ+ members:

  • Treat a LGBTQ+ person with the same regard and dignity you would any other community member.
  • Do not make hateful, ignorant or homophobic remarks from the bima, around the shabbos table or anywhere else.
  • Avoid use of term “homosexual lifestyle.” LGBTQ+ people do not have a particular lifestyle that is different from anyone else.
  • Do not presume everyone in your community is heterosexual. Be sensitive about offering to create a shidduch (match) for someone unless you know with certainty that they are interested in meeting someone of the opposite sex.
  • Acknowledge the partner of an LGBTQ+ person as you would anyone else’s spouse: invite them to your simcha; ask about their welfare; express concern if they are facing some difficulty.
  • If you are a congregant in a synagogue where a rabbi demonstrates insensitivity or misunderstanding of LGBTQ+ people, tell him this is hurtful to you. These kinds of statements publicly humiliate LGBTQ+ people and their families.
  • Encourage your shul to have an inclusion statement for LGBTQ+ people on its website, and to define “couple” and “family” membership to include LGBTQ+ households.
  • Celebrate the milestones of LGBTQ+ people and their family members just as you would any other person in your community. If your synagogue is not ready to do any kind of commitment ceremony, you can still acknowledge their union, or celebration of their union if they choose to have one. Celebrate the birth of their children just as you would anyone else’s.
  • Familiarize yourself with resources that are appropriate for LGBTQ+ Jews, their rabbis or family members, including those listed on this page.

 

 Mezuza

Eshel has drafted the principles below to help allies make their Orthodox synagogues and communities become more inclusive of LGBTQ+ people. A welcoming shul accepts certain principles that will bind the rabbi, LGBTQ+ congregants, and the community as a whole together in a covenant of inclusion. We welcome you to use these principles as a guide in creating a more LGBTQ+ inclusive Orthodox community.

1. All human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (kavod haberiyot). Every Jew is obligated to fulfill the entire range of mitzvot between person and person in relation to those who are gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender. 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 environmentally generated is irrelevant to our obligation to treat human beings with dignity and respect.

2. Whatever the origin or cause of homosexual orientation, the psychiatric community does not feel that orientation can be changed with therapy. Since most mental health professionals feel that these therapies are either ineffective or potentially damaging psychologically for many patients, it is not halakhically acceptable to demand that LGBTQ+ people attempt to change their sexual orientation. Consequently, we affirm the religious right of LGBTQ+ people to reject therapeutic approaches they reasonably see as useless or dangerous. The Rabbinic Council of America has affirmed that therapy of any type “be performed only by licensed, trained practitioners and…that no individual should be coerced to participate in a therapeutic course with which he or she is acutely uncomfortable.”

3. LGBTQ+ Jews who live in the Orthodox community confront serious emotional, communal and psychological challenges that cause them and their families great pain and suffering. For example, homosexual orientation may greatly increase the risk of suicide among teenagers in our community. Rabbis and communities need to be sensitive and empathetic to that reality. Rabbis and mental health professionals must provide responsible and ethical assistance to congregants and clients dealing with those human challenges and should communicate their openness to providing respectful pastoral counseling to LGBTQ+ individuals.

4. Jews struggling to live in accordance with halakhic values need and deserve support. The demand that LGBTQ+ people remain closeted is an unacceptable burden that has socially and psychologically destructive consequences. Nonetheless, the process of coming out is one that should not be forced upon anyone, and it is certainly wrong to “out” an LGBTQ+ member of the community. Clearly we should leave up to an individual the timing and context of a decision to share their sexual orientation with family, friends and community. We support the honesty and grasp the relief of coming out for the gay members of our community, but leave up to them the timing and context of their decision to share their sexual orientation with family, friends and community.

5. LGBTQ+ Jews should be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community. 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 their synagogue. 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 halakha.

6. At present, an often-recommended halakhic “solution” for LGBTQ+ Orthodox Jews is life-long celibacy. Clearly, this is a demand that can be followed by very few individuals, whether hetero- or homosexual. Since, under these circumstances, the vast majority of young LGBTQ+ Orthodox Jews will either leave Orthodoxy or find same sex companionship and endeavor to remain in this community, the Orthodox world is challenged with finding a way within halakhic parameters to welcome these Jews as well as their partners and children.

 

Consider displaying this logo to show that yours is a welcoming community.Welcoming Shul Logo rainbow

 

Want to make your community more welcoming?

Drop us an email and we will help you tailor a plan appropriate for the specific needs of your community.

Contact Us

Orthodox Allies Roundtable
Rabbi Aaron Potek on "The Moth," telling his ally story.

Rabbi Aaron Potek on “The Moth,” telling his ally story.

Do you have an Orthodox LGBTQ+ person in your life? Do you know that they need your support? Then you are potential ally to them. And chances are, they need you to be their ally.

Listen to this podcast on The Moth to hear one Orthodox rabbi’s story of becoming an ally.

And sign up for the Orthodox Allies Roundtable to get involved in being an ally to LGBTQ+ Jews in your community!

 

The Orthodox Allies Roundtable (OAR) organizes allies locally, and connects them to each other to determine what they—collectively and separately—can do to make a difference in LGBTQ+ inclusion. OAR offers allies a range of actions to participate in, among which are public writing efforts, education efforts such as bringing Eshel speakers to their local Orthodox synagogue or JCC, and direct one-on-one conversations to move their communities toward meaningful, pragmatic policy change.

While lay folks in traditional communities do not and should not tell their rabbis how to determine halakhic norms, they do feel that it is legitimate for them to share their concerns for people. Family and friends can let the community leadership know that the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people matters to them. They can urge their rabbis, educators, and lay leaders to choose pragmatic policies that are fully responsible to the LGBTQ+ people in their institutions.

Help make inclusive Orthodox communities a reality by signing up to join OAR!

To sing up, email us at: oarsurvey@eshelonline.org

Rabbinic Advisory Board

Men discussion_edit

Do you need advice from an Orthodox religious leader about an LGBTQ+ issue? Eshel can put you in touch with its Rabbinic Advisory Board.

Email us at: info@eshelonline.org

Texts & Online Resources

1727 wives writing 02

Books

Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View by Rabbi Chaim Rapoport

Keep Your Wives Away from Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires Edited by Miryam Kabakov

Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition by Rabbi Steven Greenberg

Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community by Noach Dzmura

Online Resources

Wrestling with God
A collection of over 160 classical Jewish texts curated by Rabbi Steve Greenberg. These are the primary source texts Rabbi Greenberg explored in depth in his groundbreaking book, Wrestling with God & Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition. Here you can create customizable text-study and source sheets using the Wrestling with God texts for use in classrooms, synagogues, and other educational venues.

Bibliography of Contemporary Orthodox Responses to Homosexuality
by the Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions

Another Jewish Kid With Gay Parents
A website and support network for kids of Orthodox Jewish LGBTQ parents.

 

For a list of organizations and other resources for Traditional LGBT Jews, click here.