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Monday, September 26, 2005

The Gay Agenda Making Inroads In The Orthodox Community

Ex-Yeshiva Head Outs Himself, Leaves Fold
By Jennifer Siegel-The Forward
September 23, 2005


A former principal of one of New York's most illustrious Modern Orthodox high schools has announced that he is gay and no longer an Orthodox Jew.

Rabbi Alan Stadtmauer, 42, stepped down as head of the Yeshivah of Flatbush High School in June, after serving as a teacher and administrator for more than a decade. At the time, the administration believed that Stadtmauer's desire for a career change was behind his departure. But in recent weeks, according to former students and officials at the school, the former principal confirmed that he recently had come to terms with being a gay man and has turned away from Orthodoxy.

In a September 19 letter sent to Flatbush parents, the school's president, Jack Rahmey, said that last week Stadtmauer informed a member of the administration "that he was a gay man and no longer considered himself an Orthodox Jew."

"To the best of our knowledge, Alan Stadtmauer had never previously discussed these issues with members of the faculty or with any students, and there have been no allegations of inappropriate behavior during his tenure at the Yeshivah," Rahmey wrote. "He always acted as a professional and adhered to all of the Yeshivah's standards and practices. We were not aware of his personal issues and conflicts when he resigned."

Stadtmauer, a graduate of Manhattan's Ramaz School, received rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University's affiliated seminary. The rabbi could not be reached for comment. According to former students, he left last week for a three-month tour of Asia.

In a widely circulated e-mail signed with the rabbi's name, the author wrote, "Given how alone I have been all my life, I just couldn't see fighting an uphill battle just to remain lonely in the Orthodox community."

In recent years, the profile of gays and lesbians has risen dramatically in the Orthodox community, particularly with the release in 2001 of "Trembling Before God," a documentary featuring interviews with gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews, including Steven Greenberg, the world's first openly gay Orthodox rabbi. In New York alone, several support groups for lesbian and gay Orthodox Jews have gained steam over the last several years.

Greenberg's 2004 book, "Wrestling With God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition," advanced a model for integrating gays into Orthodox life through a more liberal interpretation of Halacha, or rabbinic law; other, more conservative commentators have advocated retaining gays in the Orthodox community through teaching abstinence, offering treatment designed to alter sexual preferences, or extending the kind of tacit acceptance that the community routinely grants others who are not fully observant.

In contrast, Stadtmauer has left the Orthodox world — a fact some students found more troubling than the revelation about his sexual orientation. "I don't care so much that he's gay as that he left religion," said one Flatbush senior, who was rushing down Brooklyn's bustling Avenue J on a recent weekday morning to make it in time for the start of school.

One 1997 alumnus of Flatbush, who is gay, praised Stadtmauer as "the rabbi that everybody loved." The former student said that though he had left Orthodoxy, he remains active in a traditional congregation. He described Stadtmauer's religious drift as "surprising."

"I'm not sure that he realizes — and this is the important thing — that he's not alone," the alumnus said. "Nobody who faces this issue, who's fighting the 'uphill battle,' is alone in the Orthodox community."

For their part, Orthodox leaders said that they are working to show tolerance and compassion for gays, even while maintaining Halacha.

Psychotherapist Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, said that while gay and lesbians may not be suitable candidates for leadership positions — just like someone who does not keep the Sabbath or observe kashrut — they are welcome in the community and should be viewed no more harshly than other Jews who are not fully observant. Weinreb said that in some cases he supports "psychotherapeutic treatment" to help gays "reorient" themselves, but he believes that some individuals are not candidates for change.


Rabbi Dov Linzer, rabbinic dean at the liberal Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah rabbinical seminary, also argued that while homosexual sex is prohibited by the Torah, synagogues should not judge homosexuals any more harshly than those who transgress rabbinic law in other ways. At the same time, he acknowledged that unlike those struggling to keep kosher, individuals grappling with questions of sexual identity typically face "soul-wrenching" questions that can cause "a profound crisis of faith."

"It's an existential crisis," Linzer said. "Halacha demands a lot sacrifices in life, in many, many, realms but there's usually none that makes someone challenge their core identity and [wonder] if they as a person are accepted or rejected. I would say that if there is anything similar to it, it might be how some Orthodox feminists are struggling with such issues, meaning that it's not only the question of 'Is the Torah giving me an opportunity to participate as fully as I feel I should?' but 'Is the Torah biased against who I am, biased against women?' It's a similar issue here. It's not just a question, I think, of what is the Torah prohibiting and demanding of me, but is the Torah against me?"

43 Comments:

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Monday, September 26, 2005 8:06:00 PM  
Blogger Y.Y. said...

whats wrong with you
your out of your freakin mind

Monday, September 26, 2005 9:01:00 PM  
Blogger Heshy said...

Yeshiva of flatbush is not a real yeshiva.I watch the students walk around without yamulkas.Give me a break.Its a joke.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 12:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are plenty of very serious Yeshiva of Flatbush students. Stop being motzei shem ra on an entire group, Heshy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 6:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Benjamin said...

What does wearing a yarmulke have to do with anything? It's just a piece of cloth that you plop on your head. It is a custom, not a halacha, to wear one. Many people do not wear yarmulkes outside of shul or home. That is their right, and we should not spend so much time judging people on the basis of their clothing. That is one of the silly things about the Orthodox community. Everyone sits around making judgments about people based on their clothing. How stupid.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 9:15:00 AM  
Blogger Heshy said...

Better to send your kids to public school than yeshiva of flatbush.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Benjamin said...

heshy, you are a typical party-line spouting blockhead moron. You should try to learn to think for yourself. If you are just going to spout stuff you hear from other idiots, you might as well have been born a parrot.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Y.Y. said...

benjamin
clothing tells alot

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>Everyone sits around making >judgments about people based on >their clothing. How stupid.

Well said. This is one of the reasons why I have drifted from Judaism as an organized religion/groups of religious affiliations, each feeling that they are all better than the others.

People can be so self-righteous, case in point from the previous article: Rabbi Weinreb says that gays "are welcome in the community and should be viewed no more harshly than other Jews who are not fully observant."

The truth is that these kinds of judgements make people feel holy, since we are the ones who are "observing" the "mitzvot" (as understood in a very literal, mechanistic way) and "they" (insert group) are the ones who are not.

The thinking goes, but is rarely admitted, "We are better than they are but let's show how holy and magnamamous we are by letting them be in our midst". Completely selfish attitudes.

So I ask, is this what brings people into conscious contact with God? And, how does this attitude achieve that purpose?

Although I am gay, I don't see this article as being limited exclusively to the topic of homosexuality in Judaism. What interests me now is what can bring me to know God and feel Him?

--Eyal

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 1:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally a story by uo about mo. Makes you want to send your kids to a right wing school where the gays haven't made inroads. JERUSALEM JEW

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 1:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though for MO it's nothing new. The gay and lesbian association at Einstein in YU. JERUSALEM JEW

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 1:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jerusalem Jew--but we're everywhere! Even in the right-wing schools. The box has been opened and it's not going to go away. And you can't hide from it, though you can try.

In any event, I wish that your children will always be blessed with safety and a connection with God.

--Eyal

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 2:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Benjamin said...

Y.Y.: Clothing does NOT tell so much about a person. Certainly not as much as certain people think. Dress a bum up in a nice suit; he is still a bum. I agree that people should dress appropriately, with neat and clean clothes. But don't tell me that a person's worth is determined by such stupidities as whether or not he is wearing a hat or kipa sruga. The Jewish community would be a lot better off and a lot more interesting without those stupid jugments.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 2:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Benjamin said...

To all gays posting here. We don't care to hear that you are gay. The fact that you want to stick your weiner into another male is irrelevant to anything else. Go back in the closet, please.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 2:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who gives a crap about these ass- bangers?
UOJ stop giving these perverts a great venue like your blog to tell us oh they are so normal.
The are not.
The next thing we hear from them that it is normal to bang their dogs and cats.
They are sick, sick, sick.
go back in the closet you sick bastards.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 3:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want to talk about sick? Look at the state of Judaism today! And we haven't even touched on Jewish family issues!! And you sir can go back to your little ghetto!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 4:52:00 PM  
Anonymous heshy said...

Yeshiva of flatbush is worse than a catholic school.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 6:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I for one will not be tolerant of a jew doing something the torah classifies as an abomination. And no, it's not in the right wing schools and UOJ wouldn't even make it up about say, mir. Jerusalem jew

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 6:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who are we kidding? My rav told me not to avoid sending my son to a dorm yeshiva because he was personally aware of problems with homosexual behavior.

When I learned in Philly, one of the best learners was caught and not thrown out. The ones who didn't learn as well were.

Hide in the sand if you must, but there's a reason ta'avah exists. All lust is irrational. Every sicko is tested, the normal ones too. Be grateful your ta'avah for ga'avah is greater.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 10:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>I for one will not be tolerant of a jew doing something the torah classifies as an abomination.

JJ - Excuse me? Who are you? God? In case you're wondering, everything comes from God, including gay people. Perhaps God put them here for a reason, to ruffle your uptight closed-minded feathers, no doubt.

All this super piety, this comes from the ghettos of Eastern Europe. In Spain and North Africa we didn't have this kind of unhealthy obsessive-compulsive with religiosity.

Thanks to this attitude, even the Sephardim are becoming Ashkenazified in belief and practice.

As to your hatefulness, that I don't know...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to-eh hu bah, says the gemara.

rom yirg'mu oso says the torah.

where are the rocks?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous person said...

Jeruslaem Jew,

You are dead wrong. Homosexuality is rampant in the most right wing of Yeshivas - even more so as a result of repression. At least in Yeshiva of Flatbush they come in contact with the opposite sex and don't view them as completely foreign. I attended a well-known "Yeshivishe Yeshiva and it's summer learning camp. Oh, the stories I can tell...

At least the Flatbush kids grow up to be real men and support their families.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 8:11:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Kids who engage in Homosexual "behavior" are not necessarily Gays.
They may experiment with that as a form of expression, anger, rebellion..., but often times go on to lead "normal" lives.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 8:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But, if Kinsey the pervert was right and there's a continuum between exclusively one way or the other and people have the choice to orient themselves, what about those who identify themselves as exclusively gay?

I am not one of them and feel sorry for them. What is clear is that for a frum person, such a life must be very difficult and painful.

What would you say to a tumtum? Reorient?

I guess that's why AS went to the Orient. Your influence UOJ is greater than you realize.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 9:48:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Thanks for the compliment.
The Tumtum is not "physically" capable of a specific relationship, where as the Gay person has choices; and although he may be challenged, be it hormonal or otherwise, ultimately he must accept responsibility for his actions.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 11:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, you are right. The ribbono shel olam may forgive, but does not forget anyone.

The God of Israel insists upon taharah. Personal self fulfillment, aspirations for success, a so-called normal, "happy" life are not the rules of the game. l'nasotkha...for a higher purpose.

I used the example of tumtum as an exagerration, of course.

Are you familiar (of course you are, having achieved such high honors and distinction in the course of your real rabbinic studies while all the rest of us can only claim, "shelihutaihu ka'asinan") with the Midrash on Yosef ha-tsaddik and how he dealt with his lust?

It's a good one.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005 1:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Israel said...

Jerusalem writes: "And no, it's not in the right wing schools and UOJ wouldn't even make it up about say, mir."


Many years ago I went to the Mir yeshiva in Brooklyn and I can assure you that I wasn't the only gay boy there.

Israel (who appeared in the film Trembling Before G-d)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

israel does not lie. in the heilige mir in yerushalayim there have been plenty of guys who have thought gay thoughts, masturbated to gay fantasies, but if jj is appalled by the thought it's because straight people cannot imagine the whole experience. It's foreign to them and repugnant.

But, while some would deny reality and argue that gays in lakewood and ponovez is inconceivable, what would they say about fake frumkeit and dishonest business ethics in "graduates" of mir and chevron? That never happens either, right? Satan is a busy angel.

The bigger problem, as uoj suggests, is the gay identity, the gay lifestyle, the gay ethos. Is there such a thing in Mir, Israel? I don't think so. Sex is sex, but ideology is politics.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I for one will not be tolerant of a jew doing something the torah classifies as an abomination. And no, it's not in the right wing schools and UOJ wouldn't even make it up about say, mir. Jerusalem jew

6:44 PM


my second through (about) 30th homosexual experiences were in the horny doems and environs of mir yeshiva - it was quite rampamnt in the 70's

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the environs, does that count? I'm surprised activity took place in the dorms, but horny teenagers outgrow experimentation too.

Some don't.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...
I for one will not be tolerant of a jew doing something the torah classifies as an abomination. And no, it's not in the right wing schools and UOJ wouldn't even make it up about say, mir. Jerusalem jew

6:44 PM


my second through (about) 30th homosexual experiences were in the horny doems and environs of mir yeshiva - it was quite rampamnt in the 70's

1:47 PM


That's funny - that was true for me too and many others with whom i played at the mir (some very big frummies now)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 10:50:00 PM  

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