I have two comments about “Eshel sponsoring retreat for Orthodox parents of gays” (February 28).
First, while it is true that many congregants deviate from halachic norms on Shabbat and kashrut, rabbis and the institutions don’t endorse these deviations. What Eshel is asking for is an endorsement for same-sex relationships. Orthodox Judaism cannot do that and remain faithful to halacha. What the RCA has said is that gays and lesbians should be treated with respect and welcomed the way other Jews who deviate from halachic norms on kashrut and Shabbat are. Gays and lesbians may not want to hear this, but the only way a gay or lesbian can conform with halacha is to be celibate.
Secondly, the issue of gays and lesbians within Orthodoxy brings up a larger issue; how to include people who do not conform to halacha within an Orthodox synagogue or community. Too little inclusion risks limiting our impact on the Jewish community and the possibility of bringing parts of our faith to other Jews. Too much inclusion will water down our faith and turn Orthodoxy into Conservative Judaism.
If I knew the right balance, I could run the Orthodox Union.