EfratFlash 90

Efrat is a peaceful and thriving almost entirely Orthodox religious community of over 10,000 Israelis in Gush Etzion, located just 12 kilometers south of Jerusalem. Many of its residents were shocked to receive a link from their local council to a questionnaire dealing with attitudes to LGBT issues, which seemed to be skewed away from the Torah viewpoint. (See Rabbi Efrati's article here which includes a link to the survey). Efrat's congregational and other rabbis issued the following open letter to express their response.

כִּי עַם קָדוֹשׁ אַתָּה לַה' אֱלֹקיךָ

For you are a holy people to the Lord, your God (Dvarim 14,2)

We were shocked and dismayed to read the survey sent to the residents of the city of Efrat in Gush Etzion, a questionnaire whose intention is to promote public legitimization of transgressions which should be addressed with discretion and modesty.

The sacred Torah illuminates our lives, and directs us to address such matters with discretion, as it does concerning the family life of a husband and wife where the Shechina dwells. Western culture encourages relationships of various kinds and raises the banner of public promiscuity, causing harm to the institution of marriage in Israel and to G-d's Presence in our midst, while failing to provide assistance to those who contend with these challenges.

Every person who feels distress of any kind, including distress connected to physical inclinations, knows that the rabbis in Efrat extend a loving heart and willing ear to everyone. We meet with each person in a non-judgmental way, providing strength and assistance as needed. It goes without saying that it is not our way to humiliate or chastise someone for his inclinations, and that if he has committed a prohibited act, whether purposefully or unintentionally, he remains part of Israel, he is our brother. Our guiding light is love of Israel.

On the other hand, we are against waving trendy banners that do not provide a true response to personal distress, but are, instead, in favor of listening, really listening to everyone, irrespective of their orientation.

We, who carry a sacred responsibility in the work we do, have heard from many Efrat residents who told us that the questionnaire made them uncomfortable, causing them to feel like outsiders in their own community. Parents of youngsters who are coping with these issues, those residents who we support and to whom we grant help, do not want any flag waving or public displays of pride.

We request the Efrat Municipal Council remove the survey from its website and concentrate on ensuring that those who are in genuine need of assistance receive help on a one-to-one basis.

Our Torah conditions the continued success of the return to our Land upon the G-dly, moral purity of its inhabitants, mandating that we guard the Torah and its values without granting recognition to transgressions, and certainly without expressing pride in public for committing them, while discreetly assisting all in need of assistance.

Efrat Rabbis:

Rabbi Yair Bienstock, Rav of Congregation Zayit Raanan, Zayit neighborhood

Rabbi Chaim Brenner, Rav of Congregation Magen Avraham, Rimon neighborhood

Rabbi Dror Giladi, head of Kollel Beor Panecha, Gefen neighborhood

Rabbi Betzalel Daniel, Rav of Congregation Reishit Dganecha, Dagan neighborhood

Rabbi Eitan Weiss, Efrat Religious Council

Rabbi Aharon Toledano, Rav of Congregation Or Haviv, Dekel neighborhood

Rabbi Eitan Cohen, former Religious Council head

Rabbi Shlomo Katz, Rav of Congregation Shirat David, Zayit neighborhood

Rabbi Elchanan Louis, Rav of Congregation Tiferet Avot, Dekel neighborhood

Rabbi Nissan Nachshon, Chabad Efrat

Rabbi Baruch Simcha Efrati, Rav of Congregation Kol Berama, Zayit neighborhood

Rabbi Shlomo Kimchi, Rav of Congregation Orot Yehuda, Zayit neighborhood

Rabbi Sarel Rozenblatt, former Rav of Congregation Neta Binyamin, Rimon neighborhood

Rabbi Rafi Kadosh, Rav of Congregation Bracha veShalom, Dekel neighborhood

Rabbi Shlomo Yedidia HaCohen Shor, Rav of Congregation Orot Hazayit, Zayit neighborhood