By: Rabbi Shua Brick  | 

Letter to the Editor: Rabbinic Voices Respond to Rabbi Weiss

In light of Rabbi Rodney (Elisha) Weiss’s letter, I wanted to make sure other rabbinic voices were shared here as well. I penned the following that I have asked other YU Musmakhim and Orthodox communal leaders to share on social media, and over 30 have so far. I hope others who agree with this sentiment would help these words get to all those who need to hear it. 

Here is the original post on facebook, and the text of the letter is as follows:

“To our students, congregants and communities, 

We know that this week has been hard for the LGBTQ+ Jews, watching the legal battle unfold around Yeshiva University's decision on the Pride Alliance club. A conversation about YU protocols, legal designations, and tax law has unfortunately become a proxy conversation for LGBTQ+ acceptance in the Orthodox community.

We want to take this moment as an opportunity to make it as clear as possible that we love the LGBTQ+ members of our communities. As stewards of three-thousand-year-old traditions, we pride ourselves on adherence and commitment to precedent and its immutable character, as well as faithfulness to the generations that came before us. Subsequently, we are often too slow to respond to ever changing landscapes, and have struggled to demonstrate this love.

As discussing topics of a more sensitive nature was prescribed to only be done in private, too often we have relegated our pastoral care to private meetings and find it difficult to find the right way to publicly express the empathy that is both demanded by and in line with our values.

Our love may not translate into the types of reforms currently advocated for and we cannot promise that our solutions and next steps will be sufficient. But that does not need to prevent us from making it abundantly clear: LGBTQ+ individuals belong in our communities. They are our sons, daughters, children, siblings and parents. They are our peers, as well as campers, students, teachers, and leaders.

And it is a tragedy whenever they feel unsafe. It is heartbreaking whenever they feel the need to go anywhere else other than our shuls, schools and communities to find their homes. We want them to stay and we need to do better in making our institutions places where they can feel cherished, loved, and maintain the dignity they deserve. 

However this legal battle falls out, our communities must continue the work in developing the Jewish world as one that maximizes halakhic observance while maintaining its values of caring for each and every individual. It has been our failures that this has not yet been the case, and we apologize for the pain our ongoing process has caused. We resolve to do better.

May this Elul be one of introspection and teshuva, and may we continue the efforts of healing these wounds and making amends for the hurt that has been caused. We pray that Hakadosh Baruch Hu guides our community “into a unified whole to accomplish His will wholeheartedly.”

ויעשו כלם אגודה אחת לעשות רצונך בלבב שלם

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Photo Caption: Letter to the Editor