Let’s talk about sects: Orthodox Jews join national conversation on homosexuality

Orthodox Jewish community leaders, part of a culture ‘always two steps behind the mainstream’, are jumping ahead of the curve to to bring sexuality issues, religious freedom and conversion therapy discussions out into the open


This isn’t the plot for a new primetime television show (though maybe it should be), it’s the story of how Orthodox Jews jumped way ahead of the curve and joined the national conversation about LGBT rights, religious freedom, and conversion therapy.

For the first time ever, Orthodox Jewish community leaders of all stripes participated in a full-day conference run by mental health professionals to discuss sexuality issues. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as Barack Obama’s call to end LGBT conversion therapy recently reignited the national conversation on the topic.

Entitled Desire, faith, and therapy: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity in the Orthodox Jewish Community, the conference looked to explore topics rarely embraced by the community. “Orthodox culture has always been two steps behind mainstream culture,” said Dr Alison Feit. “Culture is shifting.”

Chaim Levin, a 25-year-old gay Jew, said: “If such a conference would have taken place eight years ago before I went to conversion therapy, then maybe I would’ve been spared.”

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