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Missing the point on Eshel, intermarriage

I would like to respond to articles that were in the November 22 issue of the Jewish Standard, the one concerning Eshel (“A place where you don’t have to hide”) and the one concerning intermarriage between Orthodox and non-Orthodox (“The other intermarriage”). In both, the articles did not seem to understand the complexities that are being dealt with.

Regarding Eshel, it is not disputed that halacha forbids same sex intimacy either on a Torah level or a rabbinic level. It similarly forbids transgender transition or the concept of gender fluidity. This is why YCT could not ordain a gay rabbi and an Orthodox rabbi cannot perform a same- sex marriage while remaining Orthodox. It is why a gay, lesbian, or transgender Jew cannot be part of a charedi or chasidic community, since they require conformity with halacha as a condition of membership.

However, in dealing with a modern Orthodox synagogue, complete conformity with halacha has never been a condition for membership. The goal is to increase compliance with the halacha as much as possible. While an Orthodox rabbi may take the position that it is better for the gay or lesbian to practice celibacy or a transgender to confine his or her desires to fantasies, it does not exclude them from communal participation.

Eshel does understand this reality. I would also say that families should maintain their relationship with their gay, lesbian, or transgender children, for the reasons I stated; no Orthodox Jew should attend a same-sex wedding.

The article regarding marriage between Orthodox and non-Orthodox similarly misses the point. The reason I would not participate in a non-Orthodox service is not fear of divine retribution as the Conservative rabbi author said but out of my desire to be in conformity with halacha. His solution that the Orthodox partner abandon his commitment to halacha is not only unacceptable but downright insulting. What would the rabbi do about taharat mishpacha, which is fully observed in the Orthodox community but observed nowhere else in the Jewish community.

The correct answer is for both partners to recognize there is a common commitment to Jewish life and both should respect the differences in that commitment. It is not for the Orthodox partner to water down his commitment.

Alan Mark Levin
Fair Lawn

What is wrong with Lindsey Graham?

What has happened to Lindsey Graham? (“Freedom champion Lindsey Graham blocks recognition of the Armenian genocide,” November 22.) It is a shame that he has become a Trump defender. Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina since 2002, is a disgrace to his party.

His conduct is outrageous. He stated he would not read the testimony of the witnesses at the recent open hearings. He is investigating Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine and Hunter’s service on the board of Burisma Holdings. At one time, Lindsey Graham called Joe Biden the nicest person he ever met in politics.

Lindsey Graham’s behavior shows what a hypocrite he is. He should be voted out of office.

Grace Jacobs
Cliffside Park

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