Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from
Contact Us
Visit us on Facebook

Do Homosexuals Fit into the Jewish Community?

Do Homosexuals Fit into the Jewish Community?



According to Jewish law, how should a person react to homosexual feelings? Do homosexuals fit into the Jewish community?


You ask about feelings and law. But feelings do not fall within the domain of law. A person feels what a person feels. Then he has the power to decide whether he will act upon those feelings or… not. This is the human experience: desire, longing, wanting…and the law. Part of our development from childhood to adulthood is creating for ourselves a moral compass. Something that's internal. That which tells us right from wrong. And that moral compass is comprised of myriad components, but must be firmly grounded, always, in a system of values.

For Jews, the all-encompassing system is Torah law. Torah law governs every single part of living. And from the body of Torah law emerges a system of values - general, societal and personal. Sometimes, it's easy; we feel an affinity, for example, to the laws of tzedaka, or we feel a strong connection to the laws of Shabbat or brit milah. And sometimes, we feel something quite the opposite - we feel estranged or disconnected or personally deeply at odds with a law.

We feel what we feel. Some feelings we can change, and some we can't. Sometimes what we feel is subject to modification, and sometimes it's not. Totally and unequivocally not. And yet, the law is absolute.

As much as we know about human sexuality, we don't yet know enough. We're all, as individuals and as a society, still learning. In the last half century, we've come a long way in our understanding of human sexuality, and in redefining a cultural moral code. Some of what we've come to accept as a society is long, long overdue. And some of what we've come to accept undermines the very dignity of human sexuality. But, we're learning.

We do know this, though: we know that among other sexual behaviours, Torah law expressly forbids the specific act of male homosexuality.

And we do know this: Torah law forbids bigotry; homophobia is prohibited.

And we do know this: too many Jewish girls and boys, Jewish women and men, have suffered too much for too long. And we know that most of that suffering is caused by the environment around them. We do know this: when we become judges of another person, we behave contrary to Torah law.

And we do know this: A Jew belongs in a Jewish environment. Each of us, struggling or not, needs to be in a truly Torah-observant environment. And each of us is responsible for that environment - each of us is responsible for what we bring to that environment. When we bring ignorance, or cruelty or self-righteous judgment of others, we contribute to the sullying of a true Torah environment. When we bring the most ideal principles of ahavat Yisrael, respect for every individual, recognition of each individual's personal relationship with G‑d...when we bring the best of our humanity, as expected by Torah ideals, we contribute to a Torah environment that is healthy and wholesome.

Or perhaps your question is in regard to how we should react to the homosexual feelings of others? Or how we should react to someone who eats on Yom Kippur? Or someone who longs for the relationship with a man other than her husband? On this, the classic work known as the Tanya provides strong advice: Consider what it means to have such burning passions for forbidden fruit. Consider the day to day fierce and relentless battle demanded to conquer such passions. And then ask yourself, "Do I ever fight such a battle on my own ground?"

The Tanya continues to illustrate the many areas in which all of us can improve by waging at least a small battle on our own ground.

On your question concerning community: A Jew belongs within a Jewish community. There are no application forms and no qualification requirements. He's Jewish—that's where he belongs. Period. We all have our challenges, our shortcomings, our feelings...and our failures in battle as well...and with all that, we are a community of Jews.

Mrs. Bronya Shaffer is a noted globetrotting lecturer on Jewish women's issues, and serves as a personal counselor and mentor for women, couples and adolescents. Mrs. Shaffer, a responder for’s Ask the Rabbi service, lives with her ten children in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (145)
October 27, 2015
We are one
How can we recite the Shema and find divisions among ourselves?
Rick Abrams
Bev Hills
October 27, 2015
May We Be Like Abraham
May we all rush like Abraham to welcome strangers, guests and those who are considered 'other' to our open tent with gracious hospitality . Many have traveled long distances in the heat of oppression and descrimination to find a welcoming place to rest and renew their battered self-esteem. After all, the lack of hospitality and human kindness was the gravest sin of Sodom according to our sages. And who knows if the stranger may turn out to be an angel with blessings to bestow!
Bruce Bierman
October 25, 2015
Jewish lesbian
I came out of the closet as a lesbian in my early twenties, having fallen in love with the wonderful woman who later became my wife. While my family finally accepted my wife after we were married, and continued to allow us to participate in Jewish family life, my greater Jewish community did not. It makes me sad that our beautiful children are unable to grow up in the Reconstructionist Synagogue I did. A synagogue that taught equality and justice, all of my life, for everyone - except gays apparently. It saddens me that I am unable to give my children a solid Jewish identity, and have them grow up surrounded by a vibrant and supportive Jewish community, as I did. I can not stop being gay, any more than I can stop my eyes from being blue. I did not want to leave, but we have been cast out. We now participate in a spiritual life at the local UU church where we and our children are loved and supported, not shunned.
Brookline, MA
June 3, 2015
Concerning The Branches of the Menorah and Fitting In
we all come from the same place, and we are all oriented toward the same goal. Our differences are only in order to better express our Source and to more completely achieve our goal. Which makes them not differences, but the ultimate expression of Oneness.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Bruce Bierman
May 10, 2015
Regarding marriage
It clearly says that a man or woman who know they can't have children, should not get married to a spouse who can have kids. Clearly proving the purpose of marriage is about procreation as ultimate goal. Marriage is about continuing civilization and raising children in the most harmonious manner period.

For those who can't have kids. It's a totally different circumstance. May God bless you children.

There are many ramifications which also must be learned.
In our time in this matter of Halacha/ Jewish law such as yichud and adoption with an openly gay individuals.

I'm absolutely not judging anyone.
God bless all his children
April 3, 2015
I am a Christian minister who has been researching the issue of homosexuality as it is viewed within the Jewish community and faith. This is a lovely, warm, and well written article. I wish that more religious peoples, of whatever professed faith, would approach this complex human issue with such wisdom. This article, in fact, mirrors what is genuinely taught within Christian belief as well, although precious few even attempt to live these precepts. Thank you.
Rev Charles Curtiss
Dallas TX
March 6, 2015
Wisdom of Torah
Why was the Golden Calf incident the sin of all sins?

Was it because we turned to an object, an illusion, a fake source of protection to comfort us in the midst of the wilderness?

What happens when we turn away from our own Inner Authentic Nature? If Hashem made 'who we love' in many different colors and hues---but we turn away from this gift---and turn to a false way of living that may be the dominant way society lives--but not true to your inner that not a sin?

Rich, poor, high caste or low, gay, straight, married, single----we all are asked to contribute the same amount to build a sanctuary of Whole-liness. The cost? I believe it is the best of our True Authentic Selves----the piece of G-d we just might be the closest to.
Bruce Bierman
January 27, 2015
Post-modern crisis
very well written although it does not take into account that as much as yes one should be involving Torah in his life, today we live in 2015, where society has evolved in many ways and new ideas of modernity are in place. It has officially been proven that homosexuality is no longer a choice. with that being said; is it fair for that person to want to live a life of Torah and still be gay? how can one reconcile the two? would this man be permitted to recite blessings- why or why not? And what if he has the potential to become a rabbi, would he be rejected simply because of his sexual status?
January 1, 2015
the idea that lgbtq people should want to have anything to do with anyone who upholds old laws in this case (but not in others- how many have us seen someone who blasts homosexuality but isn't kosher or anything else that would cause them personal discomfort) is ridiculous. i saw a post on here saying gay people don't want to be friends with that person because they uphold the law- your gay friends don't need to know that unless you've specifically said that, which, by the way, telling someone you think they're an abomination who should be put to death isn't a way to "get along" with everyone.
October 30, 2014
Wisdom of Parsha LECH LECHA
Absolutely amazing that we are still here today--- studying, examining, disputing, wrestling and dancing with our traditional texts. All because Abraham and Sarah---whose tent was open on all sides to welcome ALL of humanity----left the land of selfish egos, the birthplace of galut meshugas, the flawed rational thinking of the father's house---and went towards 'themselves'. May we all follow in the footsteps of Abraham and Sarah---who went towards the promise of their true inner souls---despite the dominant and rationally held beliefs of their day.
Bruce Bierman
Berkeley, CA