Video of segments from “Being Gay in The Orthodox World: A conversation with Members of the YU Community”

YU has not released an official transcript of it’s event this week in order to protect the privacy of participants. Several participants, however, have allowed footage of their comments to be shared on Youtube, and we are including these videos here. If others who were at the event are willing to share their comments, we will be sharing them as well.

View of the Audience:

Introductory Remarks:

Rabbi Blau’s Intro (we are waiting for permission to publish this)

Panelists:

1st Panelist: (pending permission)

Avi Kopstick:

Mordechai Levovitz:

Closing Remarks: Dr. Pelcovitz:

View of the Crowd at the end:

December 24, 2009 at 4:46 pm 5 comments

Being Gay in the Orthodox world: A conversation with Yeshiva University Community Members

Uptown Campus

12/22/2009 8:00 PM to 12/22/2009 10:00 PM

The Yeshiva University Tolerance Club invites you to: Being Gay in the Orthodox World: A Conversation with YU Community Members. Over the past year in YU, there has been an increasing amount of dialog and disturbance with regards to the issue of homosexuality within the Modern Orthodox community. The last issue of the Commentator alone contained almost four pages worth of content in response to a letter written by an anonymous gay YU undergraduate student. In response to these escalating events, Wurzweiler School of Social Work and the YU Tolerance Club are organizing a panel event, featuring gay undergraduate and recently graduated YU students and moderated by Mashgiach Ruchani Rabbi Yosef Blau. Sponsored by Wurzweiler School of Social Work, YSU and SCWSC.

December 21, 2009 at 11:46 am 1 comment

Reflections on psalm 130 and the Shooting in Tel-Aviv

On Monday night in Manhattan, members of the Tirtzah community attended a community-wide memorial and prayer service for those who were killed, physically and psychologically injured by the attack in Tel-Aviv.  Chasiah Haberman offered the following introduction to psalm 130 on behalf of the Tirtzah community, of which she is a founding member.

When I was younger, my father told me a story about a man who committed a crime. He was caught, and taken to prison. When he arrived- the parts of his body began to argue with each other.  The head accused the hands of committing the crime, the hands accused the feet of getting them to the scene, and the feet accused the head of planning it all.  They were all right, my father explained, except that it makes no sense for a person to fail to understand himself as one man.

But, sometimes, in a time of crisis, we dissociate.  We point fingers, we blame those who are really part of us, saying that we have nothing to do with them. We forget our interrelatedness.  In Masechet Nedarim, the Jerusalem talmud teaches us that if a man cuts his finger by mistake we do not go to that man and rebuke him- we know that a man does not intentionally cut his own finger.  And so it should be in the life of a nation, we are like the parts of one body- a pain in our finger is felt in our entire being.

And since last Saturday night, we as a people have shared a pain. We have seen two young people shot and killed, and many others injured. We have seen a community of gay young adults and teenagers, who came together to support one another, to bring kindness and understanding to one another- targeted by violence.  This pain- as pain often does, has brought us together and has driven us apart.

Some cannot imagine how an attack on a gay center in tel aviv has anything to do with them. Some of our leaders have been silent. Some individuals have, unbelievably, threatened additional violence.

But for many of us, this has been a time to come together. Jews all over the world recited Tehillim- and in particular psalm 130, which we are about to read.  The day after the attack- myself and the women of Tirtzah, a community of religiously and halachically committed Jewish Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans women gathered in a room in this JCC for our usual meeting. We began with Tehillim, and then dedicated our study to the memory of those who were killed, and to healing for those who were hurt and who were injured.

Online- people from all over the world connected to stand in solidarity with the victims of the attack, to mourn together and to pray together, and to comfort one another.  In New York and Tel-Aviv, in Boston, In Chicago and in Germany, people came together from many different walks of life- to speak, to recite tehillim, to light candles.  Rabbi Linzer of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah wrote a prayer which was recited in many Synogogues in the United States this shabbat, including the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, where I prayed, with my girlfriend, this past Shabbat.

All over the world,  many of us turned to the words of Psalm 130 (which we will soon recite).  Our natural response to pain and tragedy might be to cast blame, to distance ourselves from one another, to live in fear and isolation- But the psalmist reminds us that none of us is entirely blameless

” Im avonot tishmor Ya- adonai mi ya’amod”.

“If you hold on to our sins, Oh G-d, Lord, who will stand”.

The psalmist turns to G0d, the merciful redeemer, and asks that we be lifted up- that God guide us past our current imperfections.

This is a time in which we need, as a community, to come together, to reawaken our sense that we are one body- one that cannot disown any of its parts.  It is a time for each of us to think about what we can do to create a world that is more caring, a safer world for the gay teenagers who met in the gay community center in tel- aviv, and for each and every member of our communities.

So now, as we recite psalm 130,  we pray for: the dead, the wounded,  their families, communities.  We pray for those who were hurt in body and in spirit by this attack.  And we ask God to give us the strength not to dissociate, but to continue to reach out towards one another, despite all of our limitations, with love and with mercy.

August 11, 2009 at 11:47 pm 1 comment

A Prayer for the Slain and Injured at the Gay Community Center in Tel Aviv– by Rabbi Dov Linzer

A Prayer for the Slain and Injured at the Gay Community Center in Tel Aviv — by Rabbi Dov Linzer

This prayer expresses grief and sorrow over the horrific and murderous attack at the gay Community Center in Tel Aviv on August 1, 2009 and the heightened sense of responsibility and obligation that all Jews and communities, across the denominations, must share in response. This tfillah was recited in numerous synagogues on Shabbat Parshat Ekev (August 8, 2009), both Orthodox and non-Orthodox, and was delivered at an interdenominational memorial and tehillim service at the JCC of Manhattan on Monday night, August 10, 2009.

מי שברך אבותינו אברהם יצחק ויעקב ואמותנו שרה רבקה רחל ולאה, הוא יברך וירפא את החולים והחולות שנפגעו
בפיגוע החבלני והרצחני בתל אביב, בארצנו הקדושה, בעבור שאנחנו מתפללים בעבורם. בשכר זה, הקב”ה ימלא
רחמים עליהם, להחלים ולרפאותם, ולהחזיקם ולהחיותם, וישלח להם מהרה רפואה שלמה מן השמים, בתוך שאר חולי
ישראל, רפואת הנפש ורפואת הגוף, שבת היא מלזעוק ורפואה קרובה לבא. השתא בעגלא ובזמן קריב ונאמר אמן.

Master of the Universe, watch over the souls of the slain and bring healing to those who were injured in the violent and murderous attack in Tel Aviv in our Holy Land. See how not only the bodies, but the souls and lives of these persons have been shattered. See how this support group for teenagers – this place which for many of them was their one refuge of protection, support, and acceptance – how this haven has now been violated and has now become a place of danger, of vulnerability, and of death. Heal their bodies, heal their souls and heal their spirits.

O Lord, you have taught us in Your Torah the mitzvah of the עגלה ערופה . You have taught us that when a person is murdered and it is not known who the murder is, or what the motives are behind the murder, that it is the leaders of the community who must look inward and ask what sins of commission or omission could have possibly contributed to this tragedy. Who among us in the Jewish people, whatever our denomination or affiliation, can say ידינו לא שפכו את הדם הזה, that we have done everything in our ability to protect against such a tragedy? Who among us, throughout the Jewish people, can say, לא ראינוהו ופטרנוהו בלא מזונות ובלא לויה, that we did everything in our power to ensure that these victims were cared for physically and emotionally, to ensure that we gave them friendship and protection? O Lord, we cannot make this declaration of innocence.

Master of the Universe, give us the courage to stand up to and reject all forms of hateful speech and violence. Give us the strength of spirit to refuse to tolerate the rejection of any human being, each of whom is created in בצלם א- לוהים, in Your Divine image. Help us to internalize in our hearts and to manifest in our actions the mandate of the verse in this week’s parsha ואהבתם את הגר כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים, that it is our responsibility to care for, to love, and to protect all members of our society, and in particular those who are most vulnerable and most likely to feel estranged and rejected. Help us to value every member of our society for whom he or she is, to care for them, to support them, and to recognize that they are an equal part of our community כגיהיה. Give us the strength to fully actualize – in our speech and in our actions – the maxim that כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה , that the entirety of the Jewish people, straight and gay, is interwoven with and
responsible for every one of its members.

We cannot change the past, but we can work to change the future, so we pray, O Lord, that You accept our mourning and our prayers, and give us the strength to change. We pray that we can make the necessary sacrifices to live up to our obligations to You and to every human being who is created in Your image, and that this can bring partial atonement for the,דם נקי בקרב עמך ישראל for the innocent blood that has been shed and allowed to have been shed in the midst of Your people, of Israel.

כפר לעמך ישראל , Atone for Your people, O Lord, bring us healing, a healing of persons, a healing of society, help us create a society where all are protected, cared for, and valued, and let no innocent blood ever again be spilled. Now and speedily in our days, and let us say, Amen.

Click to dowload the prayer in PDF: A Prayer for the Slain and Injured in Tel Aviv

August 11, 2009 at 11:17 pm Leave a comment

Memorial and Solidarity Tehillim Service

Memorial and Solidarity Tehillim Service
for the Victims of the Attack on the Tel Aviv gay and lesbian Jewish Youth Group

Last Saturday night, an unknown assailant opened fire on a Jewish support group for gay and lesbian youth, killing three and injuring ten minors. Join us for a community-wide memorial service as we stand in solidarity with the victims and renounce violence in the Jewish community. Speakers will include Rabbi Yosef Blau (Mashgiach Ruchani of Yeshiva University), Rabbi Dov Linzer (Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah), Mrs. Elana Stein Hain (Lincoln Square Synagogue clergy), Rabbis from local Jewish synagogues and schools, Benjamin Fink (NFTY-NAR regional advisor) representing Jewish youth across the nation, as well as members of Jewish GLBT Youth groups. The service will include Rabbinic messages, the reading of tehillim (psalms) and personal accounts of what its like growing up gay and Jewish.

Where: JCC in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam ave. @ 76th st. New York, NY 10023

When: Monday, August 10th  8:00pm – 9:00pm

Co-sponsored by NY based organizations offering support for LGBT Jews:  JCC in Manhattan, JQYouth, GLYDSA, Tirtzah, CBST, Nehirim, and Hebro.

August 6, 2009 at 8:30 pm 2 comments

Tehillim tonight at 7:00 (wherever you are) and tommorow 8:30pm- Mt. Sinai Jewish Center

Just a reminder to say tehillim tonight at 7:00 EST for those who were slain and wounded in Tel- Aviv, as well as for their families, friends and communities. Tehillim can be recited in whatever city you may find yourself, on your own, or with others.

In addition: On Monday night at 8:30pm, Mt. Sinai Jewish Center will be reciting Tehillim for those who were killed or hurt in the attack following Mincha/Ma’ariv services. They are located at:

Mount Sinai Jewish Center
135 Bennett Avenue
New York, NY 10040

I hope those of you who live in New York will be able to make it. If anyone knows of other services/ tehillim gatherings, please list them in the comments section below.

August 2, 2009 at 5:56 pm 1 comment

Community Tehillim for Two Slain and 8 Injured at Tel-Aviv gay Community Center

We mourn the loss of three people who were murdered in a shooting at a weekly support group for youth in a  gay community center in Tel-Aviv late Sat. , and pray for those who were wounded in what may have been the worst homophobic attack on the gay community in Israel.  The New York Times reports that as of this writing no arrests have been made, and the motives are unknown, but that government officials and leaders of glbt organizations in Israel believe it to be a hate-crime. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this attack, their families, friends and communities.

Sunday, Aug 2, at 7:00pm EST, we urge you to take a moment to think of those who have been killed and wounded in this attack and to recite Tehillim (psalms) on their behalf.  Specifically, we will be reciting psalms 70,20, and 130.  May God comfort the mourners among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, and bring a speedy recovery, in body and in spirit,  to all those injured by this attack.

August 2, 2009 at 12:14 am 1 comment

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About Tirtzah

We are a community of frum queer women who gather to celebrate and study our yiddishkeit. We are committed to the value of shleimut (wholeness) and to supporting one another in observing a meaningful, integrated, honest and joyful Jewish life.

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