Rabbi tells Jewish schools to disregard biblical homophobia

Rabbi tells Jewish schools to disregard biblical homophobia September 6, 2018

The toxic book of Leviticus, the Old Testament’s principal source of homophobia, appears to have been kicked into the long grass by Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, who has just published a guidebook for Orthodox Jewish schools to help them provide support for LGBT+ students.
In The Wellbeing of LGBT+ Pupils: a Guide for Orthodox Jewish Schools, the rabbi writes:

We are, of course, aware of the Torah’s issurim (prohibitions) here, including Vayikra/Leviticus 18:22, but when homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is carried out with “justifications” from Jewish texts, a major chilul Hashem (desecration of God’s name) is caused. We must be ever-mindful of the mitzvato “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Vayikra/Leviticus 19:18), considered by Rabbi Akiva to be the most important principle of the Torah.

The 36-page booklet, which calls for a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, was produced with input from LGBT Jews and the support of KeshetUK, an organisation promoting equality for LGBT members of the Jewish community.
Mirvis said in an op-ed published in the Jewish Chronicle:

Young LGBT+ people in the Jewish community often express feelings of deep isolation, loneliness and a sense that they can never be themselves. Many are living with the fear that if they share their struggles with anyone they will be expelled, ridiculed and even rejected by family and friends. They may even be struggling with a loss of emunah (faith, trust in God) and the fear of losing their place of acceptance and belonging in the Jewish community.
I hope that this document will set a precedent for genuine respect, borne out of love for all people across the Jewish world and mindful of the fact that every person is created betzelem Elokim, in the image of God.

Mirvis said that, while many LGBT+ students are thriving in Jewish schools:

There are many others who endure deep unhappiness and distress due to the mistreatment and hurt they experience. Young LGBT+ people are particularly vulnerable to bullying and harm, as are children of LGBT+ parents.

Mirvis’s booklet will have around 200 Israeli rabbis spitting tacks.
These rabbis recently signed a document that described gay people as perverts who are striving to destroy the notion of family, and also urged the Israeli government to reverse recent legislation that excluded unmarried men from the right to father a child via surrogacy.

They were responding to criticism of Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern, above, who had said homosexuals were “forbidden” and the children they raised had “very strange and unnatural lives.” The rabbis also accused LGBT rights groups of:

Aggressive terror accompanied by nonstop media brainwashing…[that] destroy the notion of a family and turn the perverts into heroes.

On the other hand, Mirvis will be applauded by some 600 American and Canadian rabbis from across the spectrum of Judaism who have called on the bigots to retract their hateful document.
They said in a letter:

The enshrining of discrimination into law, and harmful words spoken by religious leaders, sow the seeds of hatred and brutality in the land, and put vulnerable members of Israeli society at risk of violence and worse.

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  • 1859

    I know many, many Jewish people who will welcome this long – too long overdue – step towards universal tolerance of the gay community. Many of my Jewish friends are ardent atheists, some are gay, some are straight, but all are ashamed at Israel’s paranoid behaviour and, in particular, the disgraceful bigotry of the ultra orthodox in Israel who they see as outright parasites. Unfortunately what appears to be happening is that the Jewish communities of the UK, Europe, the USA and Canada are moving away from the overt mental illness of Israel’s own ultra orthodox Jews. Living inside Israel must be like living inside a goldfish bowl.

  • AgentCormac

    Mirvis should be applauded for his attitude to LGBT issues. It’s refreshing to learn that at least one religious leader is open to joining the 21st century.

  • andym

    To be welcomed, even though I suspect he’d rather pour a bucket of shit over his own head than admit that he is influenced by changed attitudes in the secular world.

  • L.Long

    What a LYING ahole rabbi! He PERSONALLY may be OK with LBGT, but until THEY REWRITE their book of hate-bigotry-and well…HATE!! nothing will really change as others will rise up and out number the tolerant ones.
    And also rewriting the various books o’BS wont really help as there are millions of copies of the books 0’HATE out there that will be used by the hate preachers.
    The only real help is totally secular gov.mints (there’s a wasted wish) will enforce all laws equally all the time (HA HA HA ha ha…fat chance)! Religion will always be given special treatment!

  • John the Drunkard

    Leviticus is still Leviticus. A time bomb in the luggage of any ‘serious believer.’
    The people of the book are stuck with their books. And while it’s nice that Mirvis is morally superior to the authors of Leviticus, the book still trumps every external authority and morality.

  • L.Long

    Since he is a rabbi Leviticus still counts, but there is nothing in there about LGBT. It is about telling the truth to men…
    It says sorta – A man who lies with a man as he would with a woman… so it says to tell the truth with men & lying to women is OK. That all it can mean as it is physically impossible to have sex with a man as you would with a woman, well OK if you are into the butt thing then all you have to do is do the butt thing with men and never do so with a woman and you are in the clear!!!

  • barriejohn
  • Broga

    What changed his opinions? A principled recognition of what he must have known was cruel and perverted thinking or perhaps the increasing exclusion from what still passes as civilised society with the privileges that come with it. How many have suffered, often children, before he saw reason?