Three-hundred female educators, community leaders, and professionals gathered on Monday for a first-of-its-kind conference on how help religious girls dealing with same-sex attraction.
Organizing the conference was the Union of Community Rabbis and the "Bikdusha" Center. Participants included Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Lev Chadash Yeshiva Dean Rabbi Arele Harel, Dr. Chana Katan, Dr. Shulamit Ben-Shaya, Dr. Sharon Slater, and others.
"From my experience, which includes treating thousands of youth, over 10% of the population is attracted to those of their own gender, and 2.5% of the population are only attracted to their gender," Rabbi Harel said. "Unfortunately, many educators do not understand this issue, and out of a genuine desire to help, they give advice which not only does not help the girls, it hurts them. You need to learn about the topic, because certainly within your community, within your class, there are girls like this."
"These women believe that with time, things will change, and cause incredible suffering. There are married women who told me that being intimate with their husbands feels like rape to them, because the very idea of being with a man is repulsive to them."
However, Rabbi Harel emphasized the need to tell these girls that Jewish law does not allow same-sex relations, and that no rabbi can permit it.
"The LGBT community is trying to present it as if this is some kind of new enlightenment, but the truth is that it's ancient. Ancient Egypt was a world power and an enlightened country - similar to what the US is today. And in ancient Egypt, it was very common for a man to 'marry' a man and a woman to 'marry' a woman, but the Torah told us explicitly, 'You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live.'" (Leviticus 18:3).