Don't ask, don't tell at YU? Don't ask.


Homosexuality panel draws hundreds; Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Mayer Twersky sharply critical in Beis Medrash remarks

By Michael Orbach

Jan. 1, 2010 / 15 Tevet 5770

By Michael Orbach

As willing as the four panelists on the dais were to speak about their sexual orientation, it seemed clear they would have rather been in the audience.

“I'm gay, and nothing I've done can change that,” said Avi Kopstick, the president of Yeshiva University's Tolerance Club and an openly gay student at the college. “I fought for six years, every Rosh Hashana, denying who I am. Every Yom Kippur, with tears streaming down my face, asking G-d to take it away. My test is not that Hashem made me gay and I have to become straight, but my test is to live with it.”

The panel, held in Belfer Commons on Yeshiva University's Wilf Campus in

Washington Heights on  Dec. 22, was a first. Titled “Being Gay in the Modern Orthodox World,” it was run by the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, and the Yeshiva University Tolerance Club. Three alumni and a current YU student spoke about their homosexuality. Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani of Yeshiva University, was the moderator. In his words, the panel was meant to address “the pain and the conflict that is caused by someone being gay in the Orthodox world.”

The gathering was far from a gay pride event but instead a sober acknowledgment. In a twist on the gay-pride slogan of the 1970s, it said: We're here, we're queer, and we're sorry about it.

“The halacha, as expressed explicitly in the Torah and in the Chachamim, is clear to everyone here, and this is not what we're here to discuss,” Rabbi Blau said, laying down ground rules for the evening. “If someone does try to discuss halacha, I will ask them to stop.”

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