By: Rav Efrem Goldberg  | 

Letter to the Editor: A Message for YU

Recently, someone approached me to inquire about whether I wanted to contribute to the discussion surrounding the case against YU. I told them that I’d already written about the topic in a Facebook post several months ago. I decided to publish that Facebook post as an op-ed in The Commentator because The Commentator’s readers are directly involved in the case and its consequences.The following is the Facebook post, unchanged from its original form:

I would rather not post about this because it is unlikely to sway opinions and likely to attract criticism. However, I think there are times we need to stand up for Hashem and his values and say things that would be much easier to be silent about, especially when it doesn't seem others are saying it as clearly and non-defensively as I believe it should be said. So here goes:

As I have articulated numerous times in writing and from the pulpit (and in private consultation with individuals and families), we must be sensitive to the struggles of those who are trying to fit into multiple worlds, including attempting to reconcile their orientation or identity with a Halachically observant lifestyle. Nevertheless, it is simply unreasonable for students in a Yeshiva (even one that has a secular university component) to expect to be allowed to have a club that, no matter the intention, at its core enables the celebration or pride in an activity and a recognition of relationships that the Torah unequivocally prohibits. Of course, it is reasonable for students in every Yeshiva to expect to be treated respectfully, and to not be bullied or harassed for any reason.

The Torah only addresses homosexuality as a verb, a forbidden act, not as a noun, an identity. A Yeshiva is a space that those drawn to, and struggling with, actions that the Torah provides guidance for can grapple and grow and find love and support. It is not an environment that someone publicly taking pride in an identity the Torah doesn't recognize will find the response and support that they are looking for.

YU should be commended and supported for seeking to simultaneously maintain the two truths: bullying and mistreating is unacceptable and intolerable, and the Torah rejects the notion of homosexuality as an identity, nor an activity associated with pride.

Saying all people should be treated with respect but a pride club at a Yeshiva is incompatible and a non-starter doesn't make me insensitive or a bigot, it makes me loyal to multiple values that are compatible and that I believe Hashem wants us to equally maintain.

Editor’s note: Publication of this op-ed was agreed upon with Rabbi Goldberg weeks before Hurricane Ian had formed. Our hopes and prayers are with the congregants of Boca Raton Synagogue and all the people impacted by the hurricane.