Orthodox LGBT Center Addressing ‘Quiet Emergency’

Congregation Beit Simchat Torah opens new home to ‘community’s most vulnerable.’

06/15/2016 - 08:05
Staff Writer

Hannah Simpson, 31, a transgender woman, waits at the entrance of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST), New York’s oldest gay congregation, on Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings, prepared to greet teen visitors with a smile and words of encouragement.

A sign for the new safe space for gay Orthodox Jews at CBST in Chelsea. Courtesy of JQY

At LGBT Memorial Service, Orthodox Add To The Rainbow

RCA’s Rabbi Mark Dratch points to communal responsibility, says not the time to ‘retreat’ into defensive mode.

08/10/2015 - 20:00
Staff Writer

When Sean Herzfeld, an openly gay Orthodox teenager from Westchester County, heard about Shira Banki, the 16-year-old who was stabbed and killed by a charedi protestor at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade, he felt scared.

A service for Shira Banki, the 16-year-old killed at Jerusalem's Gay Pride parade. Courtesy of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah

LGBTQ Orthodox Teens, Forging a Derech

03/15/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

“Do you have any resources for a 15-year-old gay yeshiva high school student?”

Justin Spiro

UJA Holds Its First LGBTQ Conference

06/25/2014 - 20:00
Staff Writer

“I’ve turned gray waiting for UJA to make this conference,” said Shelly Weiss, a longtime LGBTQ activist. She was referring to UJA-Federation of New York’s first-ever conference focused on the Jewish gay, lesbian, transgender and queer community, which took place last month at the charity’s headquarters on East 59th Street.

This UJA logo reflects its enhanced focus on the LGBTQ community. Courtesy of UJA-Fed NY

LGBTQ Youth Have No Derech To Stray From

People leave the community because of how they are treated, not because of Jewish law.

04/08/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

This weekend I had the amazing opportunity to represent JQY (Jewish Queer Youth) at the Keshet and Hazon Shabbaton for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) teenagers. JQY is a non-profit organization supporting LGBTQ youth and their families in the Orthodox community.  

The participants at the Shabbaton represented a wide variety of religious, gender, and sexual identities. What struck me most was the life-saving role Judaism played in the lives of these teens. Many found refuge in religion when homophobic friends, family, and society rejected them. They spoke about Reform and Conservative congregations and youth groups embracing them and mitigating the harsh reality of life beyond the synagogue walls.

Justin Spiro

Gay Orthodox Shabbaton Was Like ‘Heaven’

For those on the margins, a new sense of belonging at first-ever event.
02/07/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Usually, when Adam goes to shul, he feels like part of him is just not there. In the black-hat synagogue he attends with his children, he feels that he’s always guarding the secret that he’s gay.

Although he grew up in the haredi community and attended its institutions, he no longer feels comfortable in that world, even as his children are very much integrated into the community. While he has come out to his ex-wife, his children still don’t know.

Ely Winkler and Sheldon Bruck mark Havdalah at the Eshel Shabbaton.
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