Tuesday, December 29, 2009


One of the aspects of the homosexuality panel discussion that have been especially interesting is the comments I've been hearing from friends and others, including comments that are being passed along the grapevine. Friends and colleagues whom one wouldn't even expect to have read the previous post, let alone necessarily agree, have stated that they thought the comments and opinions expressed were especially good and right along the line of what they themselves felt on the subject - whether people from the "right" or "left" of the Orthodox spectrum. In addition, R' Twersky's and R' Reis' speeches tonight were excellent, and the general goings-on at YU are fascinating.

There are a few minor and major points that seemed especially interesting and which are worth mentioning:
  • One YU Rosh Yeshiva apparently voiced what many have been thinking: Until now, the yeshiva world blasted YU, but didn't have much ammunition behind it. Now, they have something legitimate.
  • One friend noted simply that her brother (a good friend of mine) who is planning on entering into social work had previously been considering attending Wurzweiler for graduate school. That just became extremely unlikely.
  • A friend commented that she now somewhat regrets attending Stern, and questions how YU can consider itself a frum school.
One of the most interesting comments came from an alumnus who was furious at the event, and basically vowed not to send their children to YU in the future (as it does not live up to the ideals of Orthodoxy that they feel are important). When I asked what if it straightens itself out, they expressed serious doubt that this was possible, noting strongly: [sic]
...It can't straighten out. They are out of control!! It only gets worse from here. They do these radical things, make radical statements. And for what?? More money? They don't honestly care about these people who were on the panel. President Joel doesn't give two ***** about homosexuality in the frum community.
While that's surely an immediate overreaction that will temper with time, how much of perception here is reality? How much of a hit will YU actually take - perhaps not from alumni, but from current and future enrollment, from support? This presumably won't help their recruitment in Israeli yeshivos and seminaries, and it marginalizes their own graduate schools - certainly Wurzweiler - at least a little bit by making them viewed as far less Jewish and far more as just a Jew-heavy school. (Though this was true already to an extent, this certainly isn't going to help the cause.) How many roshei yeshiva will continue to stay in a university where many supposedly were already uncomfortable with some of what goes on? There are certainly other options out there for many of them.

It's important to remember that many, many people were already somewhat wishy-washy on YU and its direction over the past number of years, uncomfortable with what they viewed as a leftward-leaning direction. An event such as the one held last week only confirms and seals this perception for those people and allows them to cross off YU in their minds permanently. While certainly not for all, for many, YU was viewed as the strong, appropriate balance of Judaism and how one maintains and builds on their religiousity while balancing that with the secular world. Without that balance, for those people, YU loses its identity at best, and quite possibly crushes it - eliciting reactions like the ones above.

In the earlier post, I touched on the idea that R' Gil Student, in his post on the subject, may have somewhat overstated the idea that the Orthodox world will be swinging to the left after this panel. I think he has it partially wrong and partially correct: YU itself will likely continue a gradual shift back to the left, but Orthodoxy as a whole won't go with it - in large part because those who are uncomfortable with YU's direction will shift away from that world. It seems as if YU itself only realized just how much of its constituency it upset with this after the fact, and its own rabbonim are furious and extremely saddened.

As a friend in YU put it: After years of toeing on the brink, YU is now in a full-blown identity crisis. Instead of a world outside which often looked askance at its actions but a strong frum core from within who could defend its balance, it has now crossed the line where even its staunch supporters are now forced to question what they're supporting, exactly. R' Reiss and R' Twersky spoke strongly (and extremely well) tonight, and the excerpts that have been shared with me by people who attended seem to have nailed the issues perfectly. One lamented that at a few points in the panel, there was applause for what the panelists were saying. At no point, however, did anyone object to what was being said, including when a panelist alluded to homosexual acts.

My friend also made an interesting analogy, comparing it in a way to the Golden Calf. When making the egel, everyone who was there thought that it was not just okay, but important to do. Aharon HaKohein felt that it was a good idea, at least to some extent, if not completely. Only when a person steps back and takes a look from a bit of a broader point of view can they realize "What the heck are we doing!?" and understand that it sends the wrong message and doesn't accomplish much beyond a short-term good feeling.

A number of people have noticed one other important point: Before the event, a lot of people were indifferent to the event. But as the last week has passed and people have thought about the event and read the transcripts, read the commentary, they have found themselves more and more against the event having taken place. They don't understand what it was supposed to have accomplished, what it actually accomplished, and taking a step back, they're questioning why something like this should have happened on such a public stage - and nobody has a good answer, and that's forced people to shift from disappointment to disillusionment (if not outrage).

As discussed in the previous post, perhaps if there were a positive outcome that emanated from this panel, one could argue that it was necessary despite the negative aspects and implications that can be drawn from it. But without that, all it does is raise questions as to what YU stands for and where its priorities lie. This time, those questions aren't coming mostly from outside, but instead, they're being hotly debated from within its very core.


  1. Orthodoxy will indeed swing back toward the center left in the future. The pendulum swings both ways, and the outrages on the right will be seen to far outweigh any errors in judgment on the left.

  2. The old saying is that "one swallow a summer does not make." One error in judgement, if that is how this forum will be seen, should not be bringing with it the extreme reactions that have been publicized. I would also venture this: those who are saying that they would never send their children to YU based on this incident, or who are crying tears of shame that they went to YU or Stern are having non-warranted reactions or were possibly looking for a reason to say that they are "potur" with YU.

    Loyalty and committment demand that we applaud that which we deem good and say "no more, never again" to that which we feel damages the thing we are loyal to. Loyalty and committment do not mean abandoning ship over one incident. Loyalty and commitment demand conversation and input towards brokering a solution that will keep things moving forward in a direction that adherents can agree to. Wringing hands and yelling "oi veh" are the actions of fair weather friends.

  3. Tesyaa - what outrages on the right? Extremism on the right is already being rejected by almost all. The issues there most often include exposing issues, not practices.

    ProfK - but that's just it. People have been defending questionable approaches for years. Now were talking about actually stepping over that line. YU has hurt those who have been loyal for all this time.

  4. The issues there most often include exposing issues, not practices.

    I don't understand what you mean by this; can you clarify? Or give an example? Thanks.

    And I agree with ProfK, and I think YU's high private college tuition is more of a threat to itself than this one panel discussion (which I think was not as misguided as some people are saying).

  5. Wow.

    It's absolutely disgusting that an event where people merely told their stories to try to increase understanding and sensitivity got such a negative reaction.

    I think the best thing that could happen for modern Orthodoxy and Orthodoxy in general is for them to stop caring what the bigots to their right think of them.

    (Yes, bigots. There is absolutely nothing halakhically or hashkafically objectionable to this meeting even from their perspective. They just don't even want the matter discussed -- don't want to acknowledge that gay people are normal human beings who exist even among the holy Orthodox. They remind me of Ahmadinejad. Yeah, I said it.)

    I'm actually surprised that you, Ezzie, weren't more in favor of this event.

    Please see my post on the event.

  6. Perhaps what also needs to be added is that we are not talking about YU here, at least not in a direct manner. YU is a university, with many divisions. For the most part the graduate divisions of YU, as in any other university, are self-administered and set their policies and curricular offerings. They meet the requirements of their accrediting associations. They compete for students in the general secular world in addition to the frum world. They measure themselves against other graduate schools of their type, wherever those schools happen to be. Thus, Wurtzweiler did not check with the Roshei Hayeshiva at YU before planning and offering this program because they don't do so in general. There is an administrative link between YU and Wurtzweiler but you can't go thinking that Wurtzweiler is just the same as YU College or Stern College.

    Were you to carry out this idea that YU is responsible for every single thing done or taught or said at its graduate divisions, you would have to ask why abortion procedures, included in the medical curriculum, are taught at Einstein Medical College. You would have to question why case law and procedures that could be used, and have been used, to catch frum Jews in illegal acts or that might not be beneficial to the frum communities should be taught at Cardozo.

  7. Ezzie, this really sounds like it is written by a non-YU outsider who can never and will never understand how YU shapes its students into being the leaders they are. I am proud of YU for this episode. It reflects everything that is right about the institution.

    I am a chareidi YU alum. I was prepared for life in the real world BECAUSE of the time I spent in YU dealing with just as hot topics as this forum. The tension between right and left is beneficial. I was prepared to enter a world questioning, distinguishing and receiving guidance. The real world and other college campuses are fraught with even more issues than this forum at YU.

    Having issues raised and then having the rabbeim respond so immediately and publicly helped me learn how to deal with the complexities of life with training wheels on. I am not thrown by the new philosophies of the day because I have the tools to deal with them. As a result of this training, I am able to think on my own and evaluate new trends with a sense of how my Rebbeim would do so. I can also check how they are approaching modern issues because all their Torah is accessible to me on

    How do other yeshivos and rabbeim deal with it? They bury their heads in the sand and ignore these issues or have the rebbeim speak shrilly about them sounding out of touch and like they don't grasp the complexities of the issues at hand. Look at the other scandals of our community that have broken in secular papers across the country and have been the fodder for the blogs. Nowhere, except for Rav Shternbuch, did the average Jew receive clear guidance about how to respond and the Torah's views on the issue. The leadership went into hiding. A few nice PR statements were thrown out with some nice apologetics but nothing substantive or that will prompt people to reconsider their worldview or actions. Read and for the sense that the average yeshiva graduate feels leaderless and adrift without a proper course.

    In contrast, YU has always provided its talmidim and talmidos with strong leadership on the right and left. No issue is considered too small or too large to be addressed head on. Rather than attacking the messenger or using polemics, the speaker must use Torah and logic to defend his positions. The result is a clear understanding of "why" not just "because my Rebbe said so". There is also unlimited access to all the Rebbeim. No askanim, no filtering. Ask and you get an answer.

    Mentors are also provided at every stage to help individuals develop in a healthy manner along the path of Torah. In YU, you develop a sense of your place in the Torah world and that one does not always need to go to the gadol hador to learn. You are trained to get advice and learn from those one step higher in Torah knowledge. It's a far healthier system and one produces a stronger Jewish community.

    So, in summary, I think this issue shows exactly why YU is a place where I would send my own chidren. I want them to be strong, passionate Jews. I want them to have the tools to face their life's battles and not be so sheltered that they do not know how to do so.

  8. I don't think it will cause people to think differently about the institution itself, as much as harden people's pre-existing opinions.

    Regarding the issue itself, I think Erachet made the most useful point in this entire discussion - what, exactly, does a community do with information aired at a forum like this?

    Not a whole heckuva lot, but maybe it's food for thought about how orthodox people ought to place homosexuality in context, and how we need to fix other personal and communal failings before obssessing about the private lives of others.

    My guess is that the participants are asking for a few things here:

    1) not to be religiously or socially ostracized for being gay.

    2) unlike other "trangressions," which are ostensibly by choice, having gay tendencies is biologically determined.

    3) To be "on par" with those who publicly or privately transgress significant prohibitions, like keeping Shabbos

    Personally, I think that the community ought to view people who practice homosexuality the same as those who don't keep Shabbos: With disapproval, but with respect and tolerance.

    They can't be defined as strictly orthodox, as Shabbos is central to the religion. But, as Jews, they can surely be counted for a minyan, and can certainly celebrate or mark other Jewish occasions and perform mitzvos if they wish.

    If you're going by the book, and you're judging sin based on the severity of punishment, then homosexuality is no more toxic than chilul Shabbos (I think). And just as someone who is habitually michallel Shabbos can't define themselves as strictly orthodox, then perhaps homosexuals can't define themselves as strictly orthodox either.

    I just wish people would be as introspective and have as much angst about aveiros like adultery, molestation, thievery and so on, as they do for homosexuality. As laypeople and human beings, we really need to work on ourselves before sticking our nose into someone else's business.

  9. I just wish people would be as introspective and have as much angst about aveiros like adultery, molestation, thievery and so on, as they do for homosexuality.

    Completely agree. Especially as those aveiros you mentioned actually involve hurting other people (whereas homosexuality does not).

    As laypeople and human beings, we really need to work on ourselves before sticking our nose into someone else's business.

    Also completely agree. However, in this case, we're not sticking our noses in other people's business. Other people have broadcast their business and now it's out in the open for discussion.

    Also, I do think the reactions posted on this blog seem like overreactions to me. I went to Stern and I'm just as proud that I went there as I was before the event. I don't think this event defines what YU is. YU is so much more than an event here and there. If you don't agree with an event, don't go. It doesn't mean the whole University is tainted.

  10. If any side in this debate is right about the ramifications of the other sides' approaches to this and other issues, Orthodoxy is on the precipice of a severe decline. If they are all right, it is doomed. If they are all wrong, it is a sign of how useless daas Torah really is, and how unlikely it is hashkafahs are in tune with anything divine.

  11. Wow this is really really interesting.

    Coming from a place to the left of YU, where everyone complains about how YU has been swinging to the Right the last few years, i find this perspective really interesting. Everyone i've talked to, even my friends who i consider more rightwards and therefore more "typical Centrist YU", felt positively about the event.

    I get the feeling that there are two separate populations at work here, looking at this from completely different angles and working from completely different assumptions.

  12. As a Stern student and reader of this blog, and I am very disappointed in the extreme nature of this post. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the event, there is a proper way to express those feelings--and this is not it. I fail to see why one event (sponsored by a graduate school, no less)should engender such hysterical reactions. If you disagreed with the event, you have a right (and perhaps a personal obligation) to express that disagreement. However, YU is a university as well as a yeshiva, and part of creating an atmosphere of intellectual honesty is being willing to entertain different points of view and engage in civil debate. Freak-outs of the nature described in this post are immature and not befitting of an intellectual institution--albeit a religious one. Can it not be acknowledged that--even from an Orthodox perspective--there can be two opinions on the question of the expediency of the event?

  13. Tesyaa - Abuse or the like. The right has been more guilty of sweeping issues under the rug as "those don't happen here".

    I think their tuition will kill them as well. :)

    JA - What do you mean such a negative reaction? It's not the stories so much as the concept - in the Orthodox world, whether you agree or not, homosexual acts are by definition wrong and unacceptable. This did not need to be a public discussion whatsoever.

    My personal opinion is that had the panel restricted itself to the first two speakers and not banned the halachic aspect of discussion there would have been no issues whatsoever. Those two talked about the struggles of overcoming their desires in order to live an Orthodox lifestyle which includes following halacha. I think that had it stuck at that, it would have been a much more accepted event.

  14. ProfK - The split between YU and its grad schools is meaningless from a public perspective. Moreover, it's always been a point of contention as to how much YU's grad schools should be listening to its Rabbonim. Obviously there's enough of a link that the Rabbeim were upset by it, correct?

    Moreover, I fail to see how issues discussed in class are somehow similar to a panel created by the school unnecessarily. The specific examples you gave border on ridiculous - not only is abortion sometimes permissible, but it's (I assume) a requirement to study. And I fail to see what is wrong with learning how to catch people in illegal acts - they SHOULD learn those!

  15. I think their tuition will kill them as well. :)

    I'm not as happy about it as you are, apparently

  16. Anon - Not only can I and do I understand YU perfectly well, most of the YU graduates whom I've spoken with are far less than thrilled at this event.

    Being prepared to discuss hot topics has little if anything to do with this forum. Did anyone learn something from this panel that was not known previously?

    Do you think that people in other schools and yeshivos are less prepared to discuss these subjects? I've yet to see a difference out in the real world when it comes to handling such issues between a YU grad or (say) a Lander grad, or even graduates from many yeshivos.

    Why the assumption that other places bury their heads in the sand about this? I know specifically Roshei Yeshiva who are quite interested in the topic and who do everything but bury their heads in the sand - they just see no need to make a show of it.

    I would argue strongly that YU is no better, and perhaps worse, than many yeshivos and schools in guiding its students from the left and right as you claim. Many, many of the students I know who attended YU struggled with a disconnect and lack of close guidance from Rabbeim there (while others found the opposite). As in every school, those who specifically seek out a relationship will get one; YU is notoriously poor at doing so with those who do not seek it. (Which is one of the reasons I did not go there.) Certainly YU can be an excellent place if one makes it so, but to imply that it has something that other places do not in those aspects is somewhat silly. More specifically to the subject at hand, most of the Rabbeim in YU itself seem to be quite against this panel having taken place, as are many, many alumni - and that ignores the view from outside the YU world. I think that is an extremely important point to recognize.

  17. Ari - Agreed that it will mostly harden, but I've spoken to people within YU or graduates of YU who are typically pro what goes on, and they are upset about this.

    Agreed as well to not a whole heckuva lot.

    Let's go with the Shabbos comparison for a moment: Can you imagine a panel being promoted regarding it? Certainly, as you note, those who practice homosexuality are like those who transgress Shabbos in terms of Orthodoxy.

    And I will certainly agree that we should all focus on ourselves first.

    I also agree with Erachet that this case is one where they literally broadcast to the public - which is exactly the issue.

    Erachet - I don't know if you understand that public events are a core part of what defines an institution. What any institution does publicly IS by definition the face it's putting forward. An 800-person event with press coverage defines a university.

  18. Yes, but Ezzie, there are many other faces YU puts forth as well. This is not THE defining face of the institution. It is merely one aspect - and one which the institution itself feels mixed on.

  19. Brian - Please elaborate.

    Steg - Possibly.

    SStud - What in the post is extreme (outside of quotes, possibly)? The post prior to this one is where feelings on the event were expressed; this post is primarily meant as a look at how this will affect YU going forward (hence the title).

    I don't know why YU being a university as well as a yeshiva therefore allows events that are antithetical to its Torah base, and certainly cannot understand the claim that intellectual honesty requires allowing this event to take place. What "other point of view" was expressed? As noted previously, there's simply nothing new that came out of this panel.

    And it seems from the Rabbonim in YU itself that no, there are not two proper opinions as to the expediency of the event. If there were, then it would have been ignored as most issues are.

  20. Erachet - I don't think you understand. EVERYTHING that a university puts forward is part of them. There's a reason Pres. Joel put out that letter so quickly - it was a fast attempt to cover the school somewhat because they knew there would be backlash once they realized the extent of what occurred and how it was going to be viewed. As an individual, you can say "this does not represent me". As an institution, no such splitting exists.

  21. "What in the post is extreme (outside of quotes, possibly)?"


    I am appalled that you chose to give credence to the opinion expressed in the box quote, by highlighting it. The event was not sponsored by president Joel, and to say that it was about money and that the people involved don't honestly care about the people on the panel is absolutely disgusting. Shame on you for giving publicity to that view.

  22. I mean that the left and right both feel the consequences of not having it their way are very dire. For the left it would be a Judaism out of touch and incompatible with modernity, and for the right it would be the end of Judaism being rooted in tradition and centered on the Torah.

    If either are right, we can write off half of Orthodoxy right there, since sociologically it seems unlikely there will be a consensus in the near or medium term.

    If both are right, then there is no way forward at all!

    If neither are right, where is the divine guidance?

  23. Ezzie, I agree with you that this panel most likely had little to no impact on the actual issue of homosexuality in the Orthodox world. Whether it will have long term repercussions for YU remains to be seen. I don't think any of us can make predictions based on this panel alone. I still believe that tuition will be the number one issue in terms of enrollment in the next 5-10 years, if not longer.

    My issue is this: The people who read and comment on this and other Orthodox blogs are presumably adults (or even older teens?) who are quite aware that homosexuality exists in the frum world. Yet, my guess is that if one were to poll those of us who were in high school in the 90's and 00's, homosexuality was probably rarely addressed in school or at home. (I for one, can remember on one occasion, a teacher in HS saying something about how it is the actions that are the sin... but that is pretty much it.)

    The next generation is likely to grow up in a world in which seeing two men/women holding hands and living next to John & Bob and their two kids will be quite common. As a community, we may want to start thinking about how to deal with these issues with our children. The panelists mentioned how supportive most people were, but also how they agonized with their decision to tell people that they were gay. Perhaps, by being open and honest with our children, instead of burying our heads in the sand, we can become a more sensitive people. Our children, whether homosexual or heterosexual, should not grow up in a world in which they are terrified to ask questions and identify their feelings, beliefs, and opinions to community and family leaders. This is not at all exclusive to homosexuality, but yet another topic where the issue is worth noting.

  24. It seems that there is a concerted attempt to pick away at our Jewish sense of right and wrong, to reduce us to the general society's PC level that has produced social/moral chaos. When such attempts involve people teaching or learning in revered Jewish institutions, they are worse yet.

    Instead of cheering for the home team, cheer for the Torah---the objective one, not the altered-to-suit one.

  25. There is actually an Orthodox organization dedicated to assisting Jewish homosexuals called JONAH. Their website is and they will be presenting a lecture at this year's AJOP convention and were there last year as well, educating kiruv professionals on how to deal with the concept of homosexuality and how to deal with homosexuals. I am a graduate of Cardozo and although I cannot confirm this, I was informed when I was there that the school could not hire any teachers without the okay from Rabbi David Bleich. So if you think YU does not interfere or care about what goes on in its institutions, unless this is not true, you are wrong.
    As to the panel, I don't understand why YU would essentially provide a forum for a coming-out party. There was no halachic, opposing or alternative perspective other than a couple of guys publicizing their sexual preferences and sharing their difficult experiences. I do not see the benefit in that especially when this is a school and the objective is education. If a school wants to discuss an issue, it has to present opposing sides in order to provide an educational purpose, unless it had a purpose presenting as it did.

  26. Anon - The post is about the fallout for YU from this episode. If that is a viewpoint that people have of this episode, that's a problem for YU. (The person is an alumnus who is typically pro YU.)

    I don't think it's unfair to suggest that the hot-button aspect of this topic played a role in its moving forward and getting the attention it did, and YU was certainly aware this would be the case beforehand.

    It's also ironic to see people upset that an opinion they don't agree with to be aired publicly, considering what the subject at hand was.

  27. Brian - I guess it depends on where you draw the line on the left and how much they need to be in touch with modernity. If being in touch requires accepting homosexuality as okay, then you're probably right. If people can be sympathetic but still not accept it, then there's still room for a balance to be reached.

    Bob - Right.

    Anon - Well said, and interesting on R' Bleich and the graduate schools. I think that's important to recognize - the graduate schools are still a part of YU.

    As for JONAH, I think there are a lot of mixed feelings on it and its effectiveness.

  28. S - Best comment of the last few days. Thank you. I think had the panel instead discussed those types of issues it would have been a far more positive one and could have promoted positive approaches. As it stands, it added nothing.

  29. Interesting. I wonder which YU graduates you are talking to, because anyone I've spoken to (students and alumni) are not expressing this "outrage" and swearing not to send their kids to YU. I definitely don't feel that way. And I would note that the YU R"Y that you mention is known for his fairly extreme views.

    I also think that this is an issue that is better understood by people on the "inside," that is, people who are at YU or who went to YU. It's very hard to for people outside the institution to *really* understand the dynamics of Stern/YC without actually being there. And I know that what you're probably going to tell me is that an attitude like that means that no outsider can critique the institution. I don't think that. I think that with this particular issue you need to have been there to get it.

  30. spoken like someone who didnt go to YU and will never really understand what its like to go there and the relationship the undergrad has with the grad schools and the yeshiva has with the university....

    if you dont know what youre taking about, dont talk...

  31. As for JONAH, I think there are a lot of mixed feelings on it and its effectiveness.

    Wow, disingenuous much? Why pussyfoot around the truth?

    Your behavior with regard to this topic is absolutely shameful. You're so scared of people realizing the Torah and the Orthodox are wrong about this subject that you're willing to prostitute yourself to lies and propaganda.

    If you don't have the chutzpah to point out that JONAH is a fraud and adanger to young people you should just close down your blog. Does the world really need another Cross-Currents?

  32. JA- It seems that you are a fraud, because no matter the issue, any time a topic is brought up, that can present itself as anti orthodoxy, you disagree with it. You have issues with orthodoxy and G-d fine, does not mean you have to deliberately agree with everything that is anti- Torah/orthodoxy. Even if you know the (candidate)issue is a good one, because the candidate is a republican you feel, no matter what you need to vote vs. him!SUCH A TYPICAL LIBERAL!!!!!!!!!!

  33. The Apple - Friends of yours.

    And I would note that the YU R"Y that you mention is known for his fairly extreme views.

    SNORT. The tactic of smearing people whose views aren't liked in a specific instance as someone who's consistently "extreme" is old hat already. R' Twersky is extreme? From where - his father's Harvard chairmanship, his own Harvard education? He's spoken out a few times in previous years, yes: On every occasion where YU stepped deeply into controversy, such as the cardinals, and now this. It's as if speaking out against what one views as wrong now qualifies one as extreme. I'll come back to the rest in a moment...

    JA - I'm mostly with Anon on this one. Yes - there are mixed opinions on JONAH. You automatically ascribe negativity to it because it's against what you have already accepted to believe; I don't know enough about it to say much either way. I've had a couple of good friends (including the one who mentioned it here) who are far more familiar with it discuss it quite positively, while I've seen others rip it apart. As for the rest of the comment, it's the same old mantra.

  34. Apple/The Law - Sorry, but the idea of "you have to be from YU to understand!!" is absolutely ludicrous. What exactly does being from YU have anything to do with this?? Those who are defending it and many of those who attended were not from YU either - perhaps they don't understand from the other side, too? It's laughable.

    This is not a personal situation where it looks worse from afar than it does up close when you can really understand what's involved. This is an institution which, like all institutions, is defined by the public face it chooses to put forward. There is very little to "understand" here, and that's why Pres. Joel and R' Reis put out that quick letter, and it's why the Roshei Yeshiva put theirs out before it even occurred.

    For simplicity's sake: Would the Rav have ever allowed this event to occur as it did?

    Not a chance.

    I'd love to hear a satisfactory explanation as to how "being there" would help one to "get it". It's obfuscating that this was a serious error in judgment.

  35. Anonymous:

    JA- It seems that you are a fraud, because no matter the issue, any time a topic is brought up, that can present itself as anti orthodoxy, you disagree with it. You have issues with orthodoxy and G-d fine, does not mean you have to deliberately agree with everything that is anti- Torah/orthodoxy. Even if you know the (candidate)issue is a good one, because the candidate is a republican you feel, no matter what you need to vote vs. him!SUCH A TYPICAL LIBERAL!!!!!!!!!!

    What are you basing that on?!?! It's very untrue. I have often devoted blog posts to "the opposition," whether that's Republicans or Orthodoxy.

    Two posts where I spoke well of Gov. Charlie Crist, REPUBLICAN, for being a good guy and doing the right thing even when politically inconvenient. I've frequently defended George W. Bush against charges of racism, and I've credited him multiple times for including "people of no faith" in his speeches.

    Regarding Orthodoxy and religion, I've stipulated that it makes people (on average) both happier and healthier. I praised Orthodox Jews who protested the genocide in Darfur.

    Hell, I even wrote that religious conservatives are more generous than secular liberals!

    And those are just off the top of my head. I consistently seek to learn and speak the truth regardless of consequences.

    On this issue, it just so happens I believe that Orthodoxy *is* (factually) wrong about the Torah's authorship and it is (morally) wrong about homosexuality.

    I challenge you to find an Orthodox blogger, *especially* a Republican one, who even begins to approach me in even-handedness and in dedication to the truth.

    I bet you won't even be able to admit you were wrong about me, though. You can't go even that far.

  36. If I weren't a Democrat, JA, I'd say me. :)

  37. Actually, I wasn't talking about R' Twersky, because he didn't say that. And quite frankly, I'm not interested in responding to someone who can't take a comment that might disagree with their perspective and respond to it in a derisive, condescending tone.

  38. The fallback that is too often played of "those not in YU can't understand..." is itself condescending, and The Law's comments were deserving of no more.

    I only mentioned R' Twersky and R' Reis and only quoted R' Twersky, I believe, of the two, and assumed that that was who you were referring to. Please correct me if I'm mistaken, but I'm not sure what you're referring to at all.

  39. Oooh, the quote?!

    But that RY is certainly not extreme. If anything, they're consistently ostracized from the right, not the left.

  40. Really Ezzie? Let's see some links that are even in the same ballpark as mine.

  41. Really? When I've told people off for assigning viewpoints to Obama that weren't there? Or when I've gone against the Bush administration or the Republican party or the right-wing for the viewpoints they've expressed?

    Rich to praise Crist in two places: One with a jab at JBush, one where it was in the left's favor.

  42. Ezzie the fact that the Roshei Yeshiva got up and decried the event and the President of the School sent out an immediate press release means that they all get that this was a serious error.

    What do you want them to do, wear sack cloth in public? A mistake was made and they are trying to correct it.

    The beauty of YU, which non-YUers cannot grasp, is that the ability to make mistakes and deal with those mistakes is a sign of greatness. You will mention the last 5 big errors of YU dating back to the 1930s. You will not mention how the roshei Yeshiva fought against those breaches. Lakewood and Ner Israel also big controversies. The difference is that there the faculty are expected to close ranks so the talmidim learn nothing from the event.

    In YU, intellectual honesty and debate are prized so you learn more and are prepared to be an adult.

  43. JA- when i said republican I meant it as an analogy to any none "left" issue, such as the one we are all discussing.

  44. Perhaps the people who went to YU/Sternthink that your analysis sounds like an outsiders based on your pondering whether the angry RYs would leave YU as a result of this event. It certainyl doe snot seem as though any of the RYs are about to leave, just because of one event that happened that tehy didn't approve of.

    There are probably very few people who are regretting past enrollment in YU/Stern just because of this event. Anyone who attends the institution knows that the place is a big tent, withtons of events that are left, right, and center taking place all the time. The RYs seldom have any knowledge of the events and lectures taking place on campus. As a Stern alum, I don't think any different of the institution just because this event took place--it's NOT like the powers that be in YU arranged for the event to happen in the first place. (It was run through the tolerance club and Wurzweiler, and many of the RYs had no idea it was happening until the day of.) I'm proud of the responses from the RYs and I don't think this event changes YU as a place or how it is run at all.

  45. you have absolutely no clue about how YU is shifting only what you see and hear, u have no idea what its like.

    BTW i had no idea if u went to YU or not, but suspected u did not based on the tone and content of the posting. It seems i was correct, i would actually venture to guess u went to touro or landers, and got a degree in accounting.

    thats just my guess. could be totally off.

    in any event, if u had gone to YU you would know what goes in to making an event, who approves it, etc. you would also know about the interplay btwn the undergrad and grad, the real life connection of Yeshiva and the University within the undergrad, etc.

    you do not, and cant, based on what you have "heard".

    if u want to think that this comment is just cheap and lacks substance thats fine with me, im just telling you that you really dont know what you are talking about...

  46. i would actually venture to guess u went to touro or landers, and got a degree in accounting.

    thats just my guess. could be totally off.

    Er...if you just look at Ezzie's self-description at the bottom of his blog, you could have found out the same thing.

  47. Read the comments here from the yeshivish Jews to the right of YU and tell me again that such a panel is not necessary and that YU should try to appease those people. Absolutely disgusting.

  48. JA-I think the intentions behind the panel were very necessary, but what it turned out to be was not. I think if they had 2/4 of the panelist, who actually spoke about what the panel was supposed to be about, as Rabbi Blau put it “the pain and the conflict that is caused by someone being gay in the Orthodox world", then it would have been fine. But when 2 speakers alluded to actual acts etc which the panel was not supposed to be about ("we are not here to speak about halacha"), that is what crossed the line. I think the question everyone is asking, even about the first two is what was the point? what did this panel accomplish, in terms of tolerance, that there was not already? The first two spoke about their family and friends, the most important people in their lives, being supportive and tolerant. If such was the case then why talk about the need for support and tolerance? Why publicize to everyone else that you are gay, when the people who matter most, already know and already support you. I think what upsets people is that perhaps, even unknowingly and unconsciously there was a hidden agenda here, which was more than just speaking of tolerance and support, but to sneak in other subtle topics relating to the issue (which the other 2 speakers did). I just feel like ok, where do i go with this? I already support and acknowledge and tolerate my gay friends, now i need to know that they actually act on it and go against the torah? I was happy knowing them, i don't need to know everything about them.

  49. The first two spoke about their family and friends, the most important people in their lives, being supportive and tolerant. If such was the case then why talk about the need for support and tolerance?

    Did you not read the comments at my last link? Just because two particular people had supportive friends and family doesn't mean there's not an enormous, enormous problem.

    These are two people self-selected to walk into a public and potentially hostile forum to share their stories. The ones whose families were ashamed of them didn't speak because they didn't want to rock the boat any more than their very existence had already rocked it. The ones who didn't have supportive friends didn't have the confidence to speak at such an event either.

    I grew up in a very modern, LWMO community and I saw the homophobia first hand. I saw gay kids hide their sexuality and act in all sorts of self-destructive and risky ways because they were so terrified of coming out and didn't see a place for themselves in the community. Looking back, I can easily imagine one of them killing themselves and it's just lucky that they managed to make it through childhood until they could go OTD and finally lead healthy lives. Don't tell me there's no issue there.

  50. ja- of- course there is an issue and it needs to be acknowledged but i don't think this was the right way, only because of what it turned into. I think rabbis need to speak openly about it and homosexuals need to speak to their families friends etc but there is no need for an "COMING OUT OF THE CLOSET" forum, so everyone can know what the panelist do in their bedroom and how they feel towards other men. If a man was having potency issues or a woman was having issues conceiving do we have a forum for it and publicize to everyone their issues?No, it's a private issue, and while i think homosexuality should be a public issue in terms of tolerance and support for homosexuals i don't think details about their sexuality need to be publicized, especially just to get sympathy.

  51. ja- just as an aside, many orthodox homosexuals who are suicidal, are suicidal not because they are not excepted but because they struggle with if they should go against halacha and sin or remain celibate. Both are extremely hard decisions!

  52. ser:

    ja- of- course there is an issue and it needs to be acknowledged but i don't think this was the right way, only because of what it turned into.

    I just can't get my head around the fact that people seem to be more concerned about "what it turned into" than they are about the kids (and adults) who need all the sympathy and understanding they can get.

    ja- just as an aside, many orthodox homosexuals who are suicidal, are suicidal not because they are not excepted but because they struggle with if they should go against halacha and sin or remain celibate. Both are extremely hard decisions!

    I agree. I just wish they could realize that it's all manmade and that they shouldn't choose halacha over life.

  53. ja- people are upset about what it became because it did not turn into a forum about sympathy for homosexuals but rather a forum for "let's talk about what we do in the bedroom" panel. If I wanted to know about that i could turn on my TV.

  54. ja- people are upset about what it became because it did not turn into a forum about sympathy for homosexuals but rather a forum for "let's talk about what we do in the bedroom" panel.

    really? did you read the transcript? it did not turn into that at all and making comments of that nature is what starts rumors and accusations that the panel *did* do that.