Question:

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?

Answer:

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 not following, necessarily, in the precepts of Judaism.

First, let's talk to the issue of identity. Each one of us wears many faces; each one of us is multifaceted. And one can, no doubt, list adjective after adjective to describe either oneself or someone else. American, vegetarian, skier, intellectual, blue-eyed, tone-deaf, farmer, narcissistic, teacher, morose, healer, nimble, sympathetic, runner, generous, noble...endless, endless adjectives. Do any one of them an identity define? And if I say I'm heterosexual, is that an identity?

So the thing is this: identity is fixed. I am my parent's daughter. I am my children's mother. I am my siblings' sister. I am Jewish. These define me in absolute terms, and these have nothing to do with how I feel about it.

A Jew is a Jew is a Jew. It does not depend on feelings or desires or life-partner choices. It simply is so.

In your position as a Jewish student leader, you must make every effort to see that every single Jewish man and woman 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 be encouraged to deny her/himself the authenticity of Shabbat—even if that particular Jewish man or woman is not Shabbat observant.

Bronya Shaffer for Chabad.org