April 23, 2024
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April 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Start of an Important Conversation

When I read Rabbi Appelbaum’s “A Modest Proposal for LGBT Jews” in the April 22, 2021 issue of the Link, my immediate reaction was “Wow.” Here is a rabbi who is willing to acknowledge that we are dealing with our children, our siblings, our friends who want nothing more than we would wish for any human being: a loving family. And since at least one of every 20 human beings is LGBT, it is critical that every shul rabbi, congregation and shul member understand that this is about us, not some mysterious “them.”

My second reaction was: Who could possibly object to Rabbi Appelbaum’s column? On this point I was clearly wrong, judging by the letters in last week’s Link. One compared the human need for a loving family to wanting a ham sandwich or to adultery; another referred to being gay as a “lifestyle.” I humbly ask the writers to put themselves in the shoes of their LGBT brethren—the one of every 20 fellow Jews—and of their families and friends, who care deeply about Torah and would suffer great pain from reading these comparisons.

Finally, I believe that Rabbi Appelbaum was not apologizing for the Torah. He was expressing his awe and humility before God by suggesting a possible way to affirm every Torah law, including ve-ahavta le-rei’acha kamocha. His suggestion may have been the right way to do it for his synagogue; for others, a drasha on the issue of LGBT Jews on the Shabbat of Acharei Mot–Kedoshim might be the right answer. In any case, the topic should be addressed with serious and immediate attention.

I applaud Rabbi Appelbaum’s courage and look forward to continuing this vital conversation.

Allen Friedman
Teaneck
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