Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Dad, I'm really ok with it."

Last Friday night my son and I attended a shalom zachar.   We were leaving the home of the baal simchah at the very same time that the Rav of our shul was also exiting.  I introduced my son to the rabbi, who has only been in this position for less than a year and had never met my son.  They talked a bit.  The rabbi asked what my son is doing with his life.  After a few other pointed questions, the rabbi asked my son if he is married. The rabbi knows that we have a son who is gay.  We had spoken to him about our familial situation when he took on this position in our community.

When my son replied that he is not married, the rabbi told him that he would work towards finding him a b'shert in the city where my son is working, as he knows some young women there.  I was standing about five feet away.  My son glanced at me and smiled respectfully to the rabbi.  We bade farewell and left the house.

As we were walking home in the darkness, my son said to me, "I thought he knew."  I replied, "so did I."

We continued our walk a bit further and my son said to me, "Dad, I'm really ok with it, but are you?"

We walked home in silence.

Saul David

Monday, July 30, 2012

"If I am able to return to God...I must originally have been with God" - J.J. Petuchowski

On Tisha B'Av we commemorate not only the physical destruction of the Temple, but even more critically, our spiritual alienation from HaKodesh Baruch Hu.
The Shekhinah is exiled from our midst.  We mourn this loss more than the destruction of Jerusalem.  We are saddened by the perceived distance that HKBH has placed between ourselves and the Divine.

Parha'at Vaet'hanan comes on the heels of Tisha B'Av and at the beginning of our season of repentance leading up to the Days of Awe. The parsha challenges us to rethink our understanding of returning to God.  As the parsha declares, "But if you search there for the Lord your God, you will find him, if only you seek Him with all your heart and soul."

But teshuvah is a proactive experience.  Quite beautifully, Jakob J. Petuchowski writes, "If I am able to return to God, it follows that, notwithstanding my going astray, I must originally have been with God.  Man's natural state, so to speak, is therefore to be with God, to lead his life in the presence of God and in accordance with God's will" (Judaism 17, 178-179).

It has been quite a while since I have posted to this blog.  I apologize for that, but I do not have a lot to say.  Except that I am in constant contact with friends and parents of children who are gay.  I continue to listen to their stories, their struggle, their pain and their triumphs and their continued support of their children.

It fills my heart with tremendous pride and joy when I hear that a young man or woman has overcome the initial trauma of discovery, acceptance and proclamation of his or her sexuality, and has moved on to succeed in his or her pursuit of their dreams.

A case in point.  One of the speakers at the YU symposium on December 2009 spoke about hitting rock bottom and having contemplated suicide.  But with true faith and the support and acceptance of those friends and relatives who love him and stand behind him, he has been able to pull his life together and move forward.  This brave young man graduated from YU, continued onto NYU where he recently received his PhD in Jewish History, and he is moving to Oxford University to conduct his post-doctoral activities.

Mazal Tov Josh......  "Search there for the Lord your God, you will find Him."

Be well.

Saul David

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"I have dreamt"

In the course of writing this blog, I have been in contact with many parents and their children.  About eighteen months ago a young man wrote me and asked for advice as to how to finally tell his parents he is gay.  Since that time we have been corresponding on a regular basis.  He is bright and articulate.  He has since initiated his own blog, entitled "Chalamti: I have dreamt."

With his permission, I have copied one of his most recent posts.

You can



With every movement there is an unspoken, unwritten history that tends to be forgotten.  The gay rights movement—and specifically the movement for recognition within the Orthodox Jewish community—is no different.  Over the past few years there has been an amazing amount of attention to gay and lesbian individual.  We have been the subject of panel discussions, video documentaries, op-eds and rabbinical statements.  And we have seen progress within the Modern Orthodox community.  People know, even if they cannot understand, that it is difficult to be gay and religious.  Some have even begun to press for recognition of gay relationships. The forgotten individuals in our stories are our parents.  
Obviously, I cannot tell you about the struggles that a parent faces when they discover or are informed of their child’s sexuality because I have not lived on that side of the story.  I imagine that some wish their child was heterosexual.  Others, if faced with a child who shirks religion in favor of comfort with her sexual identity, may pray that their child find a place in the fold of religious observance.  When I came out to my father he was accepting (I was shocked) but disappointed that I would never have the chance to raise a family as he did.  My mother wished (wishes? I’m not sure) that I would one day wake up and realize my heterosexuality.  They both love me for who I am, but I don’t think they expected or anticipated my homosexuality while raising me. 
It is not easy being gay, but it must be hard to know that your child is treated like a second class citizen and condemned by many in society. Little networking or support exists to unify and strengthen these parents in the challenges they face.  In the past I’ve mentioned Tmicha, an e-mail list-serve that attempts to do exactly this.  I’ve also linked to a blog the documents these struggles.  But is this enough?  While we protect and fight for our own recognition, we gays and lesbians must also ensure that our parents are shielded from the unfortunate small-mindedness that permeates our society.  We must applaud those parents who accept and support us and we must understand those who currently unable to reach this enlightened level of being.   
I am grateful for my parents and impressed by the positive energy I have seen emanate from some other parents I know