Rabbi Levinstein calls to protest Pride Parade in Jerusalem
Head of the Bnei David pre-army preparatory yeshiva calls the LGBT community an 'abomination that encourages the distortion of sexual orientation'; Meanwhile, in a first, 60 Orthodox rabbis issue a letter of support for the community, stating the importance of 'alternative voices' on the issue among religious figures.
The Pride Parade is expected to take place on Thursday.
In a letter titled “Struggle over the image of the State of Israel,” Levinstein said that the LGBT community is “an organization that encourages the distortion of sexual orientation.”
"A small but vocal and verbally violent minority, which refers to itself as ‘the LGBT organization,’ promotes perversion and distortion of sexual orientation. It operates using any means necessary and strives to make an entire country accept the law that recognizes homosexual intercourse as a legitimate family union," Levinstein wrote.
“In addition, they are also demanding to allow male homosexuals to have and raise children in a morally twisted reality. It is now clear to everyone that their fight is not about individual rights. It’s a struggle over the image of the Jewish state,” he vented.
In his letter, Rabbi Levinstein added that the Torah’s definition of family should not be meddled with even in the name of equality.
"They will not confuse us with their values of equality under which they demand legitimacy. Will we allow incest in the name of equality? Will we allow homosexual sex in the name of equality?” he wondered.
"We will also not be confused by the Western world’s acceptance of these kind of families … On the contrary, we will teach them about the sanctity of marriage and family through the Torah," Levinstein insisted.
"I empathize with them and understand the pain and difficulty of those with opposite sexual tendencies, but we cannot remain blind to the moral decay of gay sex, and we certainly will not give in to the overwhelming verbal violence against anyone who disagrees with them," he continued.
“Anyone who has a heart, every Jew and every person who cares about the Jewish State of Israel, cannot remain silent in the face of the moral humiliation of trying to promote such a law that crushes the Jewish morality, which is a light unto the nations when it comes to the sanctity of family life," Levinstein concluded.
Meanwhile, dozens of Orthodox rabbis published a letter expressing their support for the LGBT community. In the letter, 60 rabbis called for an end to the discrimination and offensive discourse against the LGBT community.
"Undermining of the group’s legitimacy is essentially laying the ground for terrible, verbal and physical violence that the group has to suffer on a daily basis. Three years ago, we saw where this type of discourse leads, when innocent blood was spilled in the streets of Jerusalem,” rabbis wrote, referring to the murder of Shira Banki by an Orthodox man during the Gay Pride Parade in the capital in 2015.
The rabbis began their letter by saying how important it is for religious figures to express alternative views on the matter.
"Our dear and beloved Jewish LGBT brothers and sisters, we, the undersigned, Orthodox rabbis who are committed to the Torah of life and love of kindness, feel a religious and moral obligation to make an alternative religious voice heard … a supportive voice," they wrote.
“The question of surrogacy raises complex and controversial moral questions. However, there are issues that are simple and clear. The use of offensive and insulting language such as 'perverts' towards people created in God's image is unacceptable and dangerous, and certainly when those words come from rabbis who order us to 'Watch our words,’” the rabbis went on to say.
The letter was written in response to a communiqué distributed by some rabbis last week, in which they attacked the LGBT community, labeling them as “abomination” and “deviants”.
The letter is an initiative of Rabbi Yitzchak Eisner and Rabbi Avidan Friedman of the Torat Chayim (Torah of life) Rabbis group.
"We agree that it is the rabbis' right to disagree with the LGBT community. They do not have to agree with them, but at the same time the question here is not surrogacy, but rather the impact on the mental health of people whom public leaders are marginalizing using words of hatred and humiliation. These are people who are already in the midst of difficult challenges, they are already dealing with mental distress, and then comes this additional push,” Rabbi Eisner said in an interview with Ynet.
Daniel Yunes, an activist and a former chairman of the Havruta—Religious Gays organization, explained the importance of the support expressed by the rabbis in the letter.
"This kind of thing has never happened before … The letter against the LGBT community was very easy for the rabbis to sign. However in this case, it’s a very courageous act, because contrary to the claim that people are silenced by 'LGBT terrorism,' the previous letter was signed by people whose salaries are paid by our tax money and they still have their jobs. On the other hand, I know quite a few rabbis who lost their jobs or took great risks when they came out with similar statements of support,” Yunes explained.
The letter against the gay community was signed last week by senior rabbis from the Religious-Zionist community, including Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Chaim Steiner and Rabbi Zvi Tau, in support of Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, following the criticism he received after saying that the children of same-sex couples will grow up to be “miserable.”
"The healthy majority in the State of Israel is shocked by the provocations … of this abomination of an organization. The aggressive terrorism, that is accompanied by the media’s brainwashing in order to turn the perverts into heroes, will not succeed," wrote the rabbis in the communiqué.
In response to the communiqué, over 100 religious members of the LGBT community signed a petition opposing the controversial rhetoric.
"We are concerned about the tremendous damage that might be caused, especially to LGBT youth, as a result of the degrading and humiliating treatment of the communiqué’s signatories, among whom are educators and community leaders,” said the official statement.