When The Jewish Standard printed the wedding announcement of a local Jewish gay couple, we, the supportive silent, didn’t vociferously applaud this natural first for your paper. More of us should have publicly said mazal tov to both the gay couples who are Jewishly celebrating their partnerships and marriage and to The Jewish Standard for celebrating the entire Jewish community by printing it.
Clearly, an intelligent thoughtful publication such as the Standard would have thought about the fact there would be some push-back from the more right-wing that would not approve. But make no mistake, representing the liberal majority of the diaspora in the world, the U.S. and our community, The Jewish Standard speaks for the entire Jewish community only when it acknowledges and embraces gay as well as straight partnerships. Do not mistake the position of either the loudest or the most strictly Orthodox for either the majority or the most authentically and legitimately Jewish.
When our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters want celebrate their partnerships and marriages in their Jewish community, we must be there to support and welcome their growing Jewish families in our synagogues and in our families. This is our job as Jewish communal leaders. This includes Orthodox Jews who are relieved to see growing public acknowledgement of their gay family members and friends. This is what it means to uphold Torah as ways of pleasantness and peace (darchei noam v’shalom), to recognize all as created in the image of Gd (b’tzelem elohim), welcome guests (haknasat orchim), and countless other Jewish principles. This only strengthens the next generation of Jews.
In this age of extremism and fundamentalism, The Jewish Standard and the Jewish community can not afford to be taken hostage by the most conservative (small “c”) among us. We must not allow the most unaccepting and right-wing among our leadership to speak for us as a community. Rather, it is cruel, irresponsible and a dereliction of duty as rabbis and communal leaders to put our heads in the sand and turn away. We only need to look to the horrible suicide of the Rutgers freshman on the George Washington Bridge for being publicly shamed by his homosexuality and the marginalization of the moderate majority by the ultra-Orthodox in our beloved Israel to see how insidious and dangerous this is. If the Standard wants to continue to speak for and represent the entire Jewish community, it must immediately say to our right-wing Orthodox brothers that while we might try to understand their fear and sensitivities, we cannot live by it.