Religious homosexuals hold first meeting

HOD group members convene in Jerusalem over weekend to discuss final version of 'gays' letter' seeking rabbis' acceptance. Organizers: It was a historic and exciting meeting

Almost three months have passed since the "gays' letter" was published on Ynet, and members of HOD – Gay Religious Group are forging on in their efforts to gain the religious society's recognition.


Last Thursday, some 70 religious homosexuals convened at a famous Jerusalem theater, in what was defined by the organizers as a "historic and exciting meeting."


The event was initiated by HOD leaders, Itai and Rabbi R., but was attended by representatives of all movements, including Chavruta – the religious section of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance.


During the meeting, the participants received the amended and final version of the letter sent to Israel's rabbis, after it was softened and changed following recommendations of rabbis, professionals and religious homosexuals.


The letter initiators now plan to ask a large number of rabbis and senior educators in the religious and ultra-Orthodox public to sign it.


"It was a very exciting event, which left people in tears," one of the organizers, Itai, told Ynet. He explained that the conference was aimed at receiving legitimization to operate on the religious homosexuals' behalf and lead the campaign aimed at gaining the religious leaders' support.


"All the activity was done so far behind the scenes, and all the communication with the people was via the internet or by phone. Now we saw the faces, and when we meet with the rabbis they will know that there are not only anonymous voices but a real public."


He added that the main difficulty was to arrange a meeting with the religious leaders, "but when things are viewed face-to-face both sides open up and start working together."


'70 gays together is a huge achievement'

Addressing the limited number of people who took part in the conference, Itai said, "Bringing 70 religious gays to such a conference is something one cannot even dream of. Everyone who posts a message on the website and, all the more so, arrived at the conference – is a huge achievement.


"It was attended by representatives of all the organizations, young religious and haredi people and even Jews from the US and Canada who identify with our situation.


"As far as we, the homosexuals, are concerned, everything is ready. We agreed to the changes in the letter, which have made it compromising and more acceptable, and now all we need is that the rabbis take up the gauntlet," Itai said. "If they refuse to sign it and make it public, it's like we did nothing."


According to Itai, "There are several rabbis who have already taken one step forward, but it's definitely not enough. We expect them to declare that the gays should and can remain religious, that people must not force them to marry, that conversion treatment do not suit everyone, that there is no ban on expressions of love and friendship between men, and particularly that the virtues between a man and his friend also apply to gay people."


The website managers report of close to 100,000 entries since it was launched, and a large number of appeals received via email.


"Many people finally feel like they have support," Itai said, "Many of them have already despaired of the rabbis, but we have put the wind back in their sails. Let's hope these efforts succeed."


פרסום ראשון: 04.29.08, 11:55
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