A conference dealing with how rabbis can approach the LGBT community took place Tuesday in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood of Jerusalem. Members of the Havruta organization for religious homosexuals were refused entry to the conference, despite the fact that representatives of the LGBT community were invited and took part in the conference.
Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu, one of the initiators of the conference, told Arutz Sheva that at present there is a taboo on the entire subject. Whoever discusses the matter from an academic perspective draws fire and members of the community who wish themselves to practice Halakha meet a brick wall. We joined up with members of the Bik'dusha organization who wished to organize a professional meeting with psychologists and affiliated people who can expose the rabbis to a pure viewpoint which will enable members of the community to live their lives. This is also a call to policy makers to invest time and funding in this direction.
"People invest in plastic surgery nowadays, so we should invest budgets in surgery for the soul as well. We should learn to speak pleasantly and sweetly to this community," added Rabbi Eliyahu. He stressed however that LGBTs are living a life which contradicts the Torah."There is no Jew who studies Torah and can say that this is halakhically permitted. The Torah calls this an 'abomination' and we want to understand why Hashem assigned this [test] in our generation. How can one live with this, what does one do with this challenge and how one can find loopholes for these people."
He emphasized that representatives of the community who wish to live according to Torah dictates are participating in the conference. "They will explain to the rabbis what processes they have gone through and I am sure there will be dialogue. The conference is not a final statement but rather an opportunity to deepen our professional knowledge."
Havruta head Daniel Youness protested the fact that members of his organization of religious homosexuals were not allowed to attend the conference. "We are sorry that we were not allowed in. We did not come to disturb the conference but rather to listen and conduct an honorable dialogue. We hope that there will be dialogue in the future and we will be invited to the next conference not just to listen but also to express ourselves as equals."
"We welcome efforts to reach dialogue and realize that it is not simple and there are those for whom the matter is very sensitive. Every step is a step forward but unfortunately we will not be able to hear or respond [to this conference]."
Youness said that there is significant progress in the Religious Zionist community with regard to the homosexual community and "a more sympathetic attitude from rabbis. The change has come from below."