Balancing attraction and halachic law

Orthodox rabbis meet with therapists and LGBT Jews

On Sunday, some leading Orthodox rabbis, including Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood and Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot of Netivot Shalom in Teaneck, met with mental-health professionals and members of the Orthodox gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community for a conference on “sexual orientation and gender identity in the Orthodox and chasidic world,” as a press release put it.

The conference, about 150-strong, held at the Kraft House on Columbia University’s campus, was organized by the modern Orthodox, Upper West Side Lincoln Square Synagogue; the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology; and JQY, a nonprofit that provides support to young LGBT Orthodox and chasidic Jews.

The goal was to help the two sides understand each other; the mere fact that the conference met is a milestone.

“I think that it was a very honest, forthright program, and it allowed two very important populations — both the rabbis, and also the therapists who are dealing with individuals who are undergoing the conflict of same-sex orientation and Orthodox practice and belonging,” Rabbi Goldin said.

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