I am active in a Jewish student's organization at my college. Lately, several of my fellow students are dealing with whether or not to even remain Jewish because they are homosexuals and feel very rejected by the Jewish faith.

I was wondering what exactly does the Torah say and suggest. How can a homosexual continue to be Jewish and not lose his or her identity?


I understand your dilemma; in your desire to approach all Jews with acceptance, you are faced with the question of how to help someone who is Jewish, but feels disenfranchised by the Jewish community because of her/his sexual identity.

I'm glad you raised this issue - it's certainly an important one. Sad to say, when someone identifies as heterosexual, that person is not 'suspected' of committing any sins (and, believe me, there are sins a'plenty to be committed by straight folks!) But when one identifies as homosexual, suddenly people become expert in Biblical prohibitions and conjecture that all kinds of sins are being committed. And - hence, homophobia in the name of G‑d.

A Jew is a Jew is a Jew. And Jewish identity is not defined by sexual identity or any other identity. It is defined by the birth/biological mother or the process of conversion. A Jew, as defined by halacha, is a Jew. Period.

In your position as a Jewish student leader, you must make every effort to see that every single Jewish woman and man whom you encounter understands that every single one of them is entitled to a Jewish environment, to be involved in Jewish life, to be involved in the behaviors of Jews. Period.

Every Jew is entitled to Shabbat. No Jew should ever deny her/himself the authenticity of Shabbat—even if that particular Jewish man or woman is not Shabbat observant. Every Jew is entitled to the myriad elements of Jewish living. Every Jew is entitled to every mitzvah (well, almost - not all mitzvot are for all Jews), and every Jew carries her/his Jewish identity as the overall, all-encompassing personal identity.