Recently we have heard and read of more and more rabbis who have come out fiercely against next month's planned Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar made a pact with the Pope against the "terrible march of abomination," Rabbi David Batzri has said that the recent outbreak of bird flu was divine punishment for the campaign for gay rights," and members of the Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox beit din (rabbinic court) have called on followers to wage no less than a "holy war to block the disgrace."
Even Rabbi Yaakov Meidan, who has been considered "moderate" since signing a call for dialogue with Prof. Ruth Gavison, said that the event would be the greatest desecration of God's name since the days of idol worship during the first temple period, when parents sacrificed their children to the god Molech.
The demand: To get thousands of protesters to bodily stop the march by standing in its way, while using the harshest of terms for a minority population. Has it really come to this? This is Torah? Is this the way to bring people close to Torah?
To remind: The first temple was destroyed because of three sins: idol worship, sexual immorality and wanton bloodshed. I want to warn that the way in which these rabbis have chosen to express their opposition to both the parade and homosexuals themselves will lead to bloodshed, as it did last year.
Therefore, their statements are the greatest imaginable desecration of Gods name that has ever happened in Israel. They are much worse than the desire of a particular group to march legally through the streets of Jerusalem.
Baseless hatred for those different to us (Photo: Reuters)
This Thursday we will mark the fast day of 17 B'Tammuz, in commemoration of the day the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem and began the process of destroying the second temple. That temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred.
Religious extremists, some of whom have signed their name to far-reaching social contracts preaching tolerance and respect (apparently only for their opinions and ways of life), claim gays and lesbians commit the sin of sexual impropriety.
We can certainly debate that question on a halachic (Jewish law) level, just as we can debate the Torah's attitude towards changing times, or the specifics of the Torahs' prohibition of gay sex (are all sexual acts prohibited by members of the same sex, or is the prohibition limited to one, specific act?). This debate is relevant and important, but not to the issue currently at hand.
The issue at hand is the development of a pure hatred for a sector of our society simply because they are not like us. All the classic elements for baseless hatred are present. Jewish tradition warns us about this time after time.
Lessons from last year
Last year the pride parade ended with actual bloodshed, when an Orthodox man stabbed several participants and almost killed them – for the same reasons that the honorable rabbis now look to block this years festivities.
I had no intention of participating in this years pride march because I am not part of that community. But now I certainly am considering it, if only to say: Enough desecration of God's name in the name of religion! Stop developing hatred, as many rabbis in our midst are doing.
Rabbi Tzvi Graetz is the rabbi of Kehillat Shevet Ahim (Conservative) in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood