Orthodox Rabbinic Group Won’t Take Position On Reparative Therapy For Gays
12/27/11
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The Rabbinical Council of America said it will not take a position on so-called reparative therapy for gays.

In a statement released Monday, the RCA, the main umbrella group of centrist Orthodox rabbis, said it will neither “endorse nor reject any therapy or method that is intended to assist those ... struggling with same-sex attraction.” It further affirms that any therapy should be performed only by licensed practitioners.

RCA President Rabbi Schmuel Goldin told JTA that the statement did not represent a shift in the group's position.

In the past, the RCA had listed Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, or JONAH, an organization promoting reparative therapy to Jews, as a resource on its website. JONAH has claimed that a 2004 blurb in the RCA newsletter amounted to a letter of support on behalf of its work.

“We are now tackling that,” said Goldin. “We want it taken down. [JONAH] said it was a letter of support, but if you read the letter it is not. They took an informational statement and reprinted it, and the use of that as an endorsement is an error.”

The RCA statement affirms the group's opposition to same-sex unions and that any clergymen who officiates at such a union cannot “claim the mantle of Orthodox Judaism.”  The statement further states that gay men and women “should be treated with the care ... appropriate to all human beings."

The RCA statement came just days after news broke of a statement, circulated mainly among haredi Orthodox rabbis, emphasizing that homosexual inclinations can be overcome and that only therapy and repentance are consistent with the mandates of the Torah.

“This is indicative of a shift in consciousness, sensitivity and understanding that Orthodox rabbis have about gay people growing up in their communities,” Mordechai Levovitz, co-excutive director of Jewish Queer Youth, said of the RCA statement. “People are going to be comforted by the RCA dealing with this community in a welcoming way; that’s what was missing.

"I applaud the RCA and Rabbi Goldin for their courage in standing up against pressuring gay youth into these kinds of therapies.”

Last Update:

03/01/2012 - 02:38

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I got a chuckle over Mordechai Levovitz's statement claiming RCA support. According to the article, that's the same thing JONAH did on their website. Rabbis of the RCA take note! Any statement you make will be lauded as an endorsement by someone. By the way, it's my understanding that ASAP (The American Society of Ambivalent Professionals) is lauding the RCA for not taking a position. Ha! Try denying that endorsement.

I don't know if Reparative (sic) Therapy works or not, but I do know that giving a therapeutic technique a name like that is guaranteed to be a socio-political flashpoint. A less confrontational label would have made this tempest-in-a-fleshpot virtually moot.

And as usual if there is a cudgel to be taken up, The Jewish Week will grasp it firmly. In the absence of a cudgel, The Jewish Week philosophy of, "If you build it, they will come," can always prevail. Sorry, Ed, but that's how I see it.

Your pal,
Ben

I believe Mr Levovitz is mistaken. The point over which the RCA refuses to take a position is not tolerance of homosexual relations or how one should deal with their desire for them or for a homosexual romantic relationship.

What they are refusing to do is be a group of rabbis who make a statement that requires psychological expertise. Does reparative therapy work? If it actually removes homosexual desires, does it do so at the expense of the client? The RCA doesn't know, and therefore refuses to take a stand.

To quote: "On the subject of reparative therapy, it is our view that, as Rabbis, we can neither endorse nor reject any therapy or method that is intended to assist those who are struggling with same-sex attraction. We insist, however, that therapy of any type be performed only by licensed, trained practitioners."

See http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=105665

-micha
(not an RCA member or spokesman)

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