"Is it possible to set an ideal standard of behavior without becoming judgmental?"
Is it possible to be compassionate towards people without becoming permissive?"
"Can Judaism help those individuals choosing to leave the homosexual lifestyle?"
To answer these questions in the affirmative, we not only need to respect the dignity and humanity of every individual created in the image of G-d, whether or not they choose to follow a Torah-sanctioned path, but also need to understand that change from homosexual to heterosexual is possible, that homosexuality is a learned behavior which can be unlearned, and that healing is a lifelong process.
In 1986, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachum Schneerson, addressed the issue of whether homosexuality was a "right" or an "ill" and determined that because "it is a case of healing a malady" an individual choosing "this form of relationship" must be motivated "to correct it."
His foresight, that "despite the misguided way of the past, everyone has the power to change" their sexual orientation, foreshadowed what is today known as "reparative therapy." The basic premises of reparative therapy (also known as reorientation or change therapy ) are that a person tends to eroticize that with which they do not identify and therefore an internal sense of incompleteness of one's own gender becomes the essential foundation for a homoerotic attraction. However, through therapy and spiritual counseling an individual conflicted about homosexual desires can reclaim their wholeness in terms of their gender identity. Since an individual's perception or recollection of past events shapes their response to new situations, appropriate reorientation counseling assists the homosexual struggler to break down old patterns of avoidance and defensive detachment from their own sex.
JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, is an umbrella worldwide Jewish organization which helps those Jews conflicted by same-sex attraction issues. Their central office in Jersey City, New Jersey, houses counseling rooms, a library, and staff offices. JONAH is the first Jewish organization assisting strugglers and their families to understand and heal the emotional wounds causing the behavior patterns which result in same-sex attraction. JONAH maintains a confidential hotline number (201-433-3444) for those troubled by same-sex attractions and for those who love them. Referrals are made to pre-approved therapists, Rabbis, and counselors for psychotherapy, religious counseling, and support groups.
One of JONAH's primary missions is community outreach and public education. Their Speaker's Bureau offers a wide range of topics related to the education, prevention, intervention, and healing of the issues involved in homosexuality. JONAH seeks to educate the Jewish community about the hope for healing by addressing individuals and groups within synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, and other Jewish organizations. In addition, training seminars are offered by JONAH for Rabbis, teachers, mental health professionals, the community, and those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions.
Seven is the classic Jewish number representing wholeness. Since JONAH's mission includes preparing the road for the journey into wholeness, we have assembled the following seven items as the commencement of your journey:
After reviewing the information listed above, we hope you will be interested in finding out more about how we can help those seeking a choice to leave the homosexual lifestyle.
Arthur Goldberg, Co-Director, JONAH