Originally Published: July, 2010/ Menachem Av, 5770

(List of Signators Most Recently Updated: January, 2013)

For the last six months a number of Orthodox rabbis and educators have
been preparing a statement of principles on the place of our brothers
and sisters in our community who have a homosexual orientation.

The
original draft was prepared by Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot. It was then
commented upon by and revised based on the input from dozens of talmidei
chachamim, educators, communal rabbis, mental health professionals and a
number of individuals in our community who are homosexual in
orientation.

Significant revisions were made based upon the
input of Rabbi Aryeh Klapper and Rabbi Yitzchak Blau who were intimately
involved in the process of editing and improving the document during
the last three months.

The statement below is a consensus
document arrived at after hundreds of hours of discussion,debate and
editing. At the bottom, is the initial cohort of signators.

If
you are an Orthodox rabbi, educator, or mental health professional and
would like to add your signature to the current list, please send a
short e-mail to:
ravnatih@gmail.com with your name, address, cell phone number, and professional affiliation.

Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a

Homosexual Orientation in Our Community

We, the undersigned Orthodox rabbis, rashei yeshiva, ramim,
Jewish educators and communal leaders affirm the following principles
with regard to the place of Jews with a homosexual orientation in our
community:

1. All human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (kevod haberiyot).
Every Jew is obligated to fulfill the entire range of mitzvot  between
person and person in relation to persons who are homosexual or have
feelings of same sex attraction.  Embarrassing, harassing or demeaning
someone with a homosexual orientation or same-sex attraction is a
violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of
Judaism.

2. The question of whether sexual orientation is primarily genetic, or
rather environmentally generated, is irrelevant to our obligation to
treat human beings with same-sex attractions and orientations with
dignity and respect.

3. Halakhah sees heterosexual marriage as the ideal model and sole
legitimate outlet for human sexual expression.  The sensitivity and
understanding we properly express for human beings with other sexual
orientations does not diminish our commitment to that principle.

4. Halakhic Judaism views all male and female same-sex sexual
interactions as prohibited.  The question of whether sexual orientation
is primarily genetic, or rather environmentally generated, is irrelevant
to this prohibition.  While halakha categorizes various homosexual acts
with different degrees of severity and opprobrium, including toeivah,
this does not in any way imply that lesser acts are permitted. But it
is critical to emphasize that halakha only prohibits homosexual acts; it
does not prohibit orientation or feelings of same-sex attraction, and
nothing in the Torah devalues the human beings who struggle with them.
(We do not here address the issue of hirhurei aveirah,
a halakhic category that goes beyond mere feelings and applies to all
forms of sexuality and requires precise halakhic definition.)

5. Whatever the origin or cause of homosexual orientation, many
individuals   believe that for most people this orientation cannot be
changed.  Others believe that for most people it is a matter of free
will.  Similarly, while some mental health professionals and rabbis in
the community strongly believe in the efficacy of “change therapies”,
most of the mental health community, many rabbis, and most people with a
homosexual orientation feel that some of these therapies are either
ineffective or potentially damaging psychologically for many patients.

We affirm the religious right of those with a homosexual orientation to reject

therapeutic approaches they reasonably see as useless or dangerous.

6. Jews with a homosexual orientation who live in the Orthodox community
confront serious emotional, communal and psychological challenges that
cause them and their families great pain and suffering.  For example,
homosexual orientation may greatly increase the risk of suicide among
teenagers in our community. Rabbis and communities need to be sensitive
and empathetic to that reality. Rabbis and mental health professionals
must provide responsible and ethical assistance to congregants and
clients dealing with those human challenges.

7. Jews struggling to live their lives in accordance with halakhic
values need and deserve our support. Accordingly, we believe that the
decision as to whether to be open about one’s sexual orientation should
be left to such individuals, who should consider their own needs and
those of the community. We are opposed on ethical and moral grounds to
both the “outing” of individuals who want to remain private and to
coercing those who desire to be open about their orientation to keep it
hidden.

8. Accordingly, Jews with homosexual orientations or same
sex-attractions should be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and
school community.  As appropriate with regard to gender and lineage,
they should participate and count ritually, be eligible for ritual
synagogue honors, and generally be treated in the same fashion and under
the same halakhic and hashkafic framework as any other member of the
synagogue they join.  Conversely, they must accept and fulfill all the
responsibilities of such membership, including those generated by
communal norms or broad Jewish principles that go beyond formal halakha.

We do not here address what synagogues should do about accepting members

who are openly practicing homosexuals and/or living with a same-sex partner.

Each synagogue together with its rabbi must establish its own standard with

regard to membership for open violators of halakha.

Those standards should be applied fairly and objectively.

9. Halakha articulates very exacting criteria and standards of
eligibility for particular religious offices, such as officially
appointed cantor during the year or baal tefillah
on the High Holidays.  Among the most important of those criteria is
that the entire congregation must be fully comfortable with having that
person serve as its representative.  This legitimately prevents even the
most admirable individuals, who are otherwise perfectly fit
halakhically, from serving in those roles.  It is the responsibility of
the lay and rabbinic leadership in each individual community to
determine eligibility for those offices in line with those principles,
the importance of maintaining communal harmony, and the unique context
of its community culture.

10. Jews with a homosexual orientation or same sex attraction, even if
they engage in same sex interactions, should be encouraged to fulfill mitzvot to the best of their ability. All Jews are challenged to fulfill mitzvot
to the best of their ability, and the attitude of “all or nothing” was
not the traditional approach adopted by the majority of halakhic
thinkers and poskim throughout the ages.

11. Halakhic Judaism cannot give its blessing and imprimatur to Jewish religious

same-sex commitment ceremonies and weddings, and halakhic values
proscribe individuals and communities from encouraging practices that
grant religious legitimacy to gay marriage and couplehood.  But
communities should display sensitivity, acceptance and full embrace of
the adopted or biological children of homosexually active Jews in the
synagogue and school setting, and we encourage parents and family of
homosexually partnered Jews to make every effort to maintain harmonious
family relations and connections.

12. Jews who have an exclusively homosexual orientation should, under
most  circumstances, not be encouraged to marry someone of the other
gender, as

this can lead to great tragedy, unrequited love, shame, dishonesty and ruined

lives. They should be directed to contribute to Jewish and general society in

other meaningful ways.  Any such person who is planning to marry someone of

the opposite gender is halakhically and ethically required to fully
inform his or her potential spouse of their sexual orientation.

We hope and pray that by sharing these thoughts we will help the Orthodox

community to fully live out its commitment to the principles and values of

Torah and Halakha as practiced and cherished by the children of Abraham, who

our sages teach us are recognized by the qualities of being rahamanim

(merciful), bayshanim (modest), and gomelei hasadim

engaging in acts of loving-kindness).

(as of 01/15/12)

Rabbi Yosef Adler

Mrs. Devorah (Darcy)Allen

Rabbi Howard Alpert

Rabbi Joshua Amaru

Rabbi Elisha Anscelovits

Rabbi Hayyim Angel

Rabbi Marc Angel

Rabbi Nissan Antine

Rabbi Maurice Appelbaum

Mrs. Nechama Goldman Barash

Rabbi Avi Baumol

Rabbi Benjamin Berger

Rabbi Dr. Shalom Berger

Rabbi Dr. Joshua Berman

Mrs. Nomi Berman

Rabbi Scot Berman

Rabbi Todd Berman

Rabbi Yonah Berman

Rabbi Kenneth Birnbaum

Dr. David Bernstein

Rabbi David Bigman

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau

Rabbi David Bollag

Rabbi Nasanayl Braun

Dr. Erica Brown

Rabbi Chaim Casper

Rabbi Dr. Michael Chernick

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow

Rabbi Mordechai Cohen

Rabbi Uri Cohen

Rabbi Yonatan Cohen

Rabbi Judah Dardik

Benham Dayanim

Dr. Aubie Diamond

Ms. Yael Diamond

Rabbi Mark Dratch

Rabbi Menashe East

Dr. Yael Ebenstein

Rabbi Ira Ebbin

Rabbi Dr. Meir Eckstein

Rabbi Rafi Eis

Mrs. Atara Eis

Mrs. Elana Sober Elzufon

Rabbi Reuven Escott

Rabbi Yitzhak Etshalom

Rabbi Dr. Shaul (Seth) Farber

Ms. Rachel Finegold

Dr. Yoel Finkelman

Rabbi Eliezer Finkelman

Rabbi Elli Fischer

Rabbi Mordy Friedman

Rabbi Jeffrey Fox

Rabbi Aaron Frank

Rabbi Aharon Frazier

Rabbi Avidan Freedman

Rabbi Yonah Fuld

Rabbi Barry Gelman

Rabbi Yehuda Gilad

Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Glick

Rabbi Michael Gisser

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin

Rabbi Dr. Binyamin Goldman

Rabbi Dr. Simcha Goldman

Ms. Anne Gordon

Rabbi Mark Gottlieb

Rabbi Uri Goldstein

Dr. Anne D. Gracer

Rabbi Melvin Granatstein

Rabbi Benjamin Greenberg

Mrs. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg

Dr. Beverly Gribetz

Rabbi Zvi Grumet

Rabbi Dr. Charles Grysman

Mrs. Lori Grysman

Rabbi Alan Haber

Dr. Aviad Hacohen

Rabbi Tully Harcsztark

Dr. Rebecca Harcsztark

Rabbi Benjamin Hecht

Ms. Judy Heicklen

Rabbi Dr. Joel Hecker

Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot

Rabbi Jason Herman

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld

Rabbi Josh Hess

Rabbi Yair Hindin

Rabbi Fred Hyman

Rabbi David Jacobowitz

Rabbi David Jaffe

Ms. Noa Jeselsohn (Yoetzet Halakha)

Rabbi Eytan Kadden

Dr. Daniel Kahn

Rabbi Moshe Kahn

Rabbi David Kalb

Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

Rabbi Andrew Kaplan

Rabbi Elliot Kaplowitz

Rabbi Aaron Katchen

Rabbi Ysoscher Katz

Rabbi Jay Kellman

Rabbi Aryeh Klapper

Dr. Yosef Kleiner

Mrs. Judy Klitsner

Rabbi Shmuel Klitsner

Rabbi Jeff Kobrin

Mrs. Ruth Kobrin

Ms. Chaye Kohl

Dr. Aaron Koller

Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn

Dr. Meesh Hammer Kossoy

Rabbi Binny Krauss

Mrs. Esther Krauss

Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

Rabbi David Levin-Kruss

Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz

Rabbi Zvi Leshem

Rabbi Joshua Levisohn

Rabbi Daniel Levitt

Rabbi Leonard Levy

Ms. Ayalet Libson

Rabbi Dov Linzer

Rabbi Norman Linzer

Mr. Steve Liss

Rabbi Dr. Martin Lockshin

rab bio Yehoshua Looks

Rabbi Dr. Haskel Lookstein

Rabbi Asher Lopatin

Ms. Adina Lubar

Rabbi Chaim Marder

Rabbi Joshua Maroof

Rabbi Dr. Adam Mintz

Rabbi Etan Mintz

Ms. Tammy Mintz

Rabbi Jonathan Morgenstern

Rabbi Aryeh Moshen

Rabbi Dr. Yaacov Nagen (Genack)

Mrs. C.B. Neugroschl

Rabbi Brian Opert

Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow

Rabbi Itiel Oron

Rabbi Ephraim Osgood

Rabbi David Perkel

Dr. Pamala A. Plastock

Rabbi Kenneth Pollack

Rabbi Yossi Pollak

Rabbi David Polsky

Ms. Ellisa Prince

Dr. Caroline Pyser

Rabbi Daniel Reifman

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

Rabbi Avi Robinson

Dr. Sara Roer

Rabbi David Rosneberg

Rabbi Yehuda Rothner

Rabbi Chaim Sacknovitz

Rabbi Dr. Ruben Schindler

Rabbi Murray Schaum

Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger

Rabbi Adam Schier

Ms. Lisa Schlaff

Rabbi Meir Schweiger

Rabbi Yehuda Seif

Rabbi Yehuda Septimus

Dr. Shai Secunda

Rabbi Hyim Shafner

Rabbi Noam Shapiro

Rabbi Charles Sheer

Rabbi Moshe Simkovich

Dr. Moshe (Simon)Shoshan

Rabbi Yair Silverman

Dr. Vivian B. Skolnick

Rabbi Sidney Slivko

Rabbi Dan Smokler

Rabbi Jeremy Stavitsky

Rabbi Adam Starr

Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz

Rabbi Moshe Stern

Rabbi Chaim Strauchler

Rabbi Yehuda Sussman

Dr. Harvey Taub

Dr. Mark Teplitsky

Rabbi Joel Tessler

Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner

Rabbi Jacob Traub

Rabbi Zach Truboff

Mrs. Dara Unterberg

Rabbi Michael Unterberg

Rabbi Dr. Jeremiah Unterman

Rabbi Dr. Avie Walfish

Rabbi Greg Wall

Ms.  Dina Weiner

Rabbi Ezra Weiner

Ms. Sara Weinerman

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Rabbi Ari Weiss

Rabbi Stuart Weiss

Rabbi Avraham Weitz

Rabbi Aharon Wexler

Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

Rabbi Elie Weinstock

Mr. James Williams

Rabbi Neil Winkler

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz

Rabbi Ron Yosef

Rabbi Alan Yuter

Rabbi Josh Yuter

Dr. Yael Ziegler

Dr. Gerald Zurrif

Rabbi Dr. Stuart Zweiter

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