Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Thoughts About "It Gets Better - Gay Orthodox Jews"

I think its very important for gay people at all ages to truly know they they are not alone. The general message of this video spreads a love and acceptance based on hardships that these men had to endure, and the knowledge that the future has been brighter.

I consider Ely, one of the people in the video, a friend, and someone who I have learned a lot about life from. I think its very brave of him and his friends to make this video and share their tough, sometimes brutal experiences with the rest of the world and most importantly with others who are going through what they went through before/after they came out.

Overall I loved the video and couldnt help but be emotionally drawn to the plight of Orthodox homosexuals and the unfortunate circumstances Hashem has made them struggle with.

There are two very important issues I have with the video:

  1. From 4:04 to 5:00 Chaim Levin describes his experience with reparative therapy and then juxtaposes the unsuccessful attempt at therapy to trying to commit suicide. Was the attempted suicide a direct result from his inability to change? Is there a deeper reason and motive for the juxtaposition? Is that his way of saying it doesnt work? I think this juxtaposition of the two is unfair and thereby paints reparative therapy in a bad light just because it didnt work for Chaim! If his suicide is something that was a direct result of reparative therapy he should have said so. If not, it should not have been left so ambiguous since there are those who are still in the process of trying to help themselves to change. --- Did Chaim Levin plan this juxtaposition or was it editied to be that way without his knowledge???

  1. From 8:20 to 8:52 Moishy Rabinowitz speaks about “lifting that dark cloud” and “lifting that feeling of hopelessness” I dont know whether its part of the agenda of JQY to get people to come out of the closet but there seems to be a tremendous push and social pressure amongst openly gay people to try and get others to come out of the closet. I understand if the struggle leads to attempted suicide, then something must be done. Once you publicly define your life as homosexual, that means the struggle is over. In what other areas in life do we say the struggle is over and afterwards come out and publicly define ourselves as something that could naturally lead to serious sins? What is wrong with the struggling? Struggle and challenge are daily facets of life that we as Jews have to overcome.In what other areas in life do we say the struggle is over and afterwards come out and publicly define ourselves as something that could naturally lead to serious sins? What is wrong with the struggling? Struggle and challenge are daily facets of life that we as Jews have to overcome. If there are immediate life threatening situations, then something must be done immediately but living with a struggle is not something to be ashamed of no matter how hard it is. Coming out and admitting you are struggling with this issue to a small group of people to have a support network is also very different thing. We all have our family, close friends, and rabbeim who we entrust with issues that we deal with.

I hope that these video will be very successful in spreading the message that there is a bright future ahead and that no matter how bad it may be, there are others who have gone through the same thing and are willing to lift you up. The Jewish people should learn to be more inclusive of everyone who struggles with all different types of issues and make our communities a safe place for people with all different types of backgrounds, lifestyles, and experiences.

Two other influential Jewish bloggers have posted their takes on this video:

Rabbi Harry Maryles at

Dov Bear at


  1. Hey Daniel,

    Just as a very short response to your two points:

    1. It's not Chaim alone who has had negative experiences with "reparative therapy." The APA has rejected Reparative Therapy, and concluded that there is no scientific evidence that it works. There are many people who have had very traumatic experiences with those "therapists," and it's a common practice for the patients to be blamed when the therapy does not achieve the desired effect. I don't think the juxtaposition was unjustified. I think it was spot on.

    2. With regards to coming out, I don't know anything about JQY's goals, but it would seem to me that the quality of life for someone who cannot be truthful with friends and family (especially in a community so focused on setting people up for shidduchim) is quite low. It's important for people not to feel like they need to hide who they are, and the fact that this can no be done safely in the Orthodox Community is truly amazing.

    -Aaron Steinberg

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  3. Please don't use "the agenda of JQY"- there is no agenda. Moishe does not mean coming out when he talks about the lifting of the could, he just talks about a life beyond the troubled times of people struggling, a life in the light after so much time in the dark. I'm a little bit offended that you suggest once a person comes out- their struggle is over, they've made their decision. You know damn well my struggle is not over. The struggle is never over. But the purpose of the video is not to tell people- "don't worry, it never gets better, but you'll always struggle"- that won't help people off a ledge. That won't encourage people to stay strong and make it through the difficult times in their lives. We know you have an issue with coming out, but the video is just for inspiration and to make sure people are not ashamed of who they are- even if who they are is something that my or may not revolve around a sin. But remember that being gay is not the sin, acting on it is a different story, and that's not the issue or discussed in the video at all.