By: Ariel Kahan and Jonathan Levin  | 

Orthodox Rabbinic Advocacy Group Writes Letter To President Berman Praising Stance on LGBTQ Club

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), a Baltimore-based advocacy organization that represents 2000 Orthodox rabbis, sent a letter Monday to Yeshiva University President Ari Berman commending him and university administrators for “upholding the honor and the ideals of the Torah” by refusing to recognize a campus LGBTQ+ club.

“The idea of a ‘pride’ club glorifying defiance of Torah law is explicitly counter to the goal of Yeshiva University, [which is] to provide a university education in a Torah environment,” stated the letter. 

CJV is a public policy organization, founded in 2017 that seeks to “correct the record” of statements made by “Modern Jewish movements ” that “reject Jewish tradition.” The organization, which does not lobby elected officials, has previously filed an amicus brief at the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of YU.

“The Torah clearly forbids homosexual acts, and does so as a key moral principle,” stated the letter. “In modern times, there are those intent upon changing this and other timeless Torah precepts to suit their personal desires, and who even call it ‘immoral’ to uphold Torah values. What was unassailable in previous generations is under severe attack today, and to oppose this trend is unquestionably what the Torah expects of us.

“This is not, and can never be, a matter governed by the opinions of students, journalists, or alumni petitions — much less a half-dozen New York politicians, including some noted for insensitivity towards our community, presuming to tell a Jewish university how to apply our religious laws and values.”

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the organization, told The Commentator that although CJV usually releases statements with the signatures of one or two members of their executive board, they felt that it was important for all nine members to sign the document. 

Menken also remarked that he felt that there is significant consensus amongst observant rabbis regarding this issue. “Each of us have our own relationships with our gedolim, and put out statements when there is consensus among observant rabbonim. Sometimes, we won’t speak, because the Torah doesn’t have a perspective; for example, we don’t speak about the Second Amendment. However, by this issue, there is consensus amongst many factions.” 

According to Rabbi Menken, the nine rabbis who compose the board represent many factions of observant Jews. “Some of our Rabbeim speak about TV shows and movies they have watched and others are much more right wing. But on this issue, they and all the factions they represent agree,” said Menken. 

The organization told The Commentator that they were voicing the view of the “silent” but “overwhelming majority” of Orthodox Jews.

“CJV has voiced the view of the silent but overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews in the YU community, who understand that a gay pride club is totally inconsistent with Yeshiva,” said Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, a Yeshiva College and Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) alum who serves as chairman of CVJ’s Rabbinic Circle. “Sexuality in general is something discreet and private in the Torah tradition, and is surely something that Halacha and Torah values do not promote advertising with pride. All the more so with forbidden sexuality. YU endorsing and funding the Pride Alliance in the midst of its Orthodox campus simply cannot be accepted.”     

These letter’s signatories were Rabbis Dov Fischer, Avrohom Gordimer, Jonathan Guttentag, Pesach Lerner, Yaakov Menken, Moshe Parnes, Steven Pruzansky, Yoel Schonfeld and Ze’ev Smason.

Photo Caption: CJV Logo

Photo Credit: Coalition For Jewish Values