I’m writing to commend columnist Michael Feldstein for his article entitled “Creating Safe Spaces” (January 28, 2021). It’s not easy to admit former bias—especially publicly—and embrace a new way of thinking, nor is it easy to reach out to someone who was once the target of your biased thinking. Coupled with the plethora of articulate responses to Rabbi Leiter’s abhorrent letter in the January 7 issue—an inflammatory letter which confused Halacha with morality with politics—I’m glad that your paper is promoting these critical perspectives that stand in direct contrast to Rabbi Leiter’s views. Unfortunately, such dangerous rhetoric is frequently printed in less moderate Jewish community publications, and with no flurry of communal outrage and the eloquent embrace of LGBTQ individuals in response.
When I wrote a story in 2014 in which I spoke with many Orthodox Jewish parents of LGBTQ children, their pain was not because their children came out to them but that their children were communally rejected because of that and subsequently left Orthodoxy. I think Rivka Schafer’s beautiful letter in last week’s issue, in which she pleaded for greater understanding and kindness towards LGBTQ+ teens and other individuals so they can stay connected to the Jewish community, is a potent reminder that while our community has made significant strides towards greater inclusivity, we have work to do here, too. I have to hope for a day when Jewish LGBTQ teens and young adults feel secure in the knowledge that they can be their authentic selves while also enjoying membership in a strong and welcoming Jewish community like ours—one that isn’t just “tolerant” but genuinely accepting of all.Tova Cohen