Trembling Before G*D – May 12, 2018

Dir: Sandi Simcha DuBowski
(USA, 2001)

Join us for a screening of Trembling Before G*D

While a variety of views regarding homosexuality exist within the Orthodox Jewish community, Orthodox Judaism generally prohibits homosexual conduct. While there is disagreement about which acts come under core prohibitions, all of Orthodox Judaism puts certain core homosexual acts, including male-male anal sex, in the category of yehareg ve’al ya’avor, “die rather than transgress” – the small category of Biblically prohibited acts (including apostasy, murder, idolatry, adultery, and incest) which an Orthodox Jew is obligated under Jewish laws on self-sacrifice to die rather than commit.

Familiarity with sociological and biological studies, as well as personal contact with Jewish homosexuals, has brought some Orthodox leaders to a more sympathetic viewpoint, which views homosexuals as mentally ill rather than rebellious and advocates treatment rather than ostracism or jail. In the 1974 yearbook of the Encyclopedia Judaica, Rabbi Norman Lamm, a leader in Modern Orthodox Judaism, urged sympathy and treatment: “Judaism allows for no compromise in its abhorrence of sodomy, but encourages both compassion and efforts at rehabilitation.” Lamm compared homosexuals to those who attempt suicide (also a sin in Jewish law), arguing that in both cases it would be irresponsible to shun or jail the sinner, but equally wrong for society to give “open or even tacit approval”.

When Orthodox rabbi Steven Greenberg publicly announced that he was homosexual, Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a leading rabbi at the Modern Orthodox Yeshiva University where Greenberg was ordained as rabbi, stated “It is very sad that an individual who attended our yeshiva sunk to the depths of what we consider a depraved society,” giving his opinion that Rabbi Greenberg’s announcement is “the exact same as if he said, ‘I’m an Orthodox Rabbi and I eat ham sandwiches on Yom Kippur.’ What you are is a Reform Rabbi.”

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