Above: Rabbi Elyakim Levonon
Dozens Of Former Yeshiva Students Sign Open Letter To Rabbi Admitting Their Homosexuality
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Dozens of former yeshiva students came out of the closet today in a public letter, the Times of Israel reported based on a report on the Israeli news website NRG.
In the letter, which was addressed to right-wing Zionist Orthodox Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, 40 graduates of Orthodox yeshivas chastised Levanon for recently calling homosexuality “perversion and sin.”
“For us, the rabbi’s comments were the trigger. This is not the first time we’ve heard comments like this, but enough is enough. The best way to combat homophobia is to show people that you exist,” Daniel Yonas, who initiated the open letter, reportedly told NRG.
The public letter attacked Orthodox and haredi support for discredited “conversion therapy” (also known as “reparative therapy”) that claims to be able to “convert” or change gay men into heterosexuals.
The letter also attacked an initiative closely linked to Levanon which tries to change gays and lesbians into heterosexuals by marrying gay men to lesbian women.
“The claim that sexual orientation entirely depends on a person’s will is a belief held by those who have closed their eyes and hearts,” the 40 gay yeshiva graduates wrote.
The ex-yeshiva students also said that while they know it is difficult to challenge entrenched religious traditions, Levanon’s anti-gay remarks amounted to defamation and would incite hatred of homosexuals.
Shortly after the letter was released a haredi man, Yishai Shlissel, stabbed 6 marchers at the Jerusalem gay pride parade.
The letter’s 40 signatories offered to meet with Levanon and his yeshiva students to discuss how Judaism views homosexuality.
“We demand to be treated like everyone else,” Yonas reportedly told NRG. “The whole point is is that they should be treating us like human beings and equals in the community.…We are trying to convey a message that [rabbis] must take responsibility for the message they teach and understand that some of their students who listen to them end up committing suicide. Its known that the high percentage of suicides among Orthodox gays and lesbians stems from this reason.”
Levanon has not yet responded.