Last week, the Jewish Press ran an op-ed from a homosexual who was born and raised in a hasidic household. The article did not endorse or encourage homsexuality. Instead, it talked about the damage done to individuals by what can only be called homophobic Orthodox and haredi Jews, some of them rabbis. That article was written as a response to an attack in the Jewish Press by a hasidic rabbi who objected to an anti-suicide video made by the author. Now supposedly Orthodox, haredi or hasidic Jews are threatening the Jewish Press and its advertisers for daring to print the gay Jew's response. "People can do Tshuva (repent) for many acts against Halacha, but what forgiveness can there be after pushing someone so far they would commit suicide?"
In a special editorial published this afternoon, the Jewish Press editorial board responded to the threats:
…Last week we ran an op-ed article by Chaim Levin ["Surviving Bullying, Silencing And Torment For Being Gay In The Frum Community"], a young man who has identified himself as both religious and homosexual.
We did not run this article to promote homosexuality. We did not run this article to condone anti-Halachic behavior. We did not run this article to intimate that homosexual behavior could be a Jewish life choice.
We ran this article because, whether one wants to admit it or not, there is a serious problem that some members of our religious community face - day in and day out. It could be your Chavrusah (study partner) in Yeshiva, the guy sitting next to you in shul, or your brother in your very own home. And this is true whether you wear a black hat, a streimel, or a knit yarmulka.
Pretending that there are no frum Jews with homosexual inclinations won't make the truth go away. It won't make the internal conflicts they fight with their Yetzer Harah (evil inclination) disappear.
We were asked to print this article after being approached by a therapist from within the frum community who primarily treats religious youth with drug abuse problems.
A significant percent of suicide attempts are committed by boys from not just religious, but rabbinic homes, because they thought they were homosexual and had no place in the Orthodox world they grew up in, even if they never acted on those impulses.
Until politics exits the science, it won't be known if homosexuality is genetic, hormonal, neurological, psychological, or a choice. The Torah itself is very clear on where it stands on homosexual acts.
But the Torah is also very clear on how one should treat one's fellow Jew, and certainly one who tries to be religious, whether they succeed or not, one should not find himself driven by his fellow Jews to contemplate suicide.
A situation where religious Jews are provoking children and adults who are different, to consider suicide is unthinkable and unacceptable.
Following the publication of this op-ed, a number of Jewish Press advertisers were approached and threatened. They were told to stop advertising with the Jewish Press.
The Jewish Press won't give in to threats and we won't be silenced.
We thank our advertisers who have notified us they plan to continue with us despite the threatening letters and that they won‚Äôt give into threats either, particularly when an article like this one may have very well have saved a Jewish life.
People can do Tshuva (repent) for many acts against Halacha, but what forgiveness can there be after pushing someone so far they would commit suicide?