Orthodox LGBTs Talk Coming Out, Staying Visible

By Matt Simonette
January 29, 2017

Windy City Times covered Zehorit Sorek and Daniel Joans’ visit to Chicago, talking about being LGBT and orthodox Jewish.

When Zehorit Sorek, an Israeli Orthodox Jew, realized some years back that she was a lesbian, she told herself that she was faced with three possible choices.

She could be an out lesbian, and become a secular Jew, denying herself the meaning she garners from Orthodox practice. Conversely, she could deny her lesbianism and live as a straight woman might, marrying a man and essentially lying to those around her. Or, she could try to build a bridge between her religious beliefs and practices and her sexual identity, constantly struggling with the contradictions between the two.

Sorek chose the last option. “There was no choice for me,” she said in a visit to Chicago the week of Jan. 16.

She calls herself a “professional lesbian” in her native Tel Aviv and has volunteered in a number of LGBT-rights organizations there. She also founded the Pride Minyan Group for LGBT Israelis in 2009, after her synagogue’s leadership would not allow her to celebrate a symbolic marriage ceremony with her partner in its building.

“There isn’t any nice way to say it—they kicked us out of the synagogue,” Sorek recalled. We needed a place to pray.”

A friend told her if they did not have a minyan—a prayer group—she should start her own.

“Forty percent are gay, 60 percent are straight—totally equal,” Sorek noted. “I pray there every week.”

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