Since it is not the norm for The Jewish Standard to mock itself (except perhaps in its Purim edition) one assumes that it was an oversight, (or divine intervention?) for the statement declaring that the Standard would no longer publish same-sex marriage announcements to appear in close proximity to its editors’ call for “a time of unity” among all religious streams- Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, or secular.” The effect left me alternating between laughing and crying.
In December 2009, an astounding 700 students turned out for a forum at Yeshiva University’s main campus that sought to address the painful conflict of being a gay Orthodox Jew. While this in no way indicates a new flexibility in Orthodoxy’s approach to gay marriage vis-Ã -vis halacha, it certainly suggests that the issue is not so taboo as to be unmentionable in a non-denominational publication such as the Standard. The “group of rabbis” who persuaded the Standard to censor itself could learn much from their students, who are evidently open to a new level of sensitivity on this issue.
One can only speculate on what was said in the “discussions” between the editors of the Standard and representatives of the Orthodox community, which led to the Standard’s about-face on this issue. While the statement mentioned causing “pain and consternation” in that community, surely running ads for treif restaurants and publicizing Saturday events that lead to the desecration of the Shabbat (biblical punishment: death by stoning) must also be uncomfortable for the Orthodox. Why is same-sex marriage – accepted by the Reform and Reconstructionist movements, as well as by many in the Conservative movement – singled out for such scorn? And what of the pain and consternation caused to the gay Jewish community by The Standard’s decision?