Welcome to shul. If you return we will remove you by force

Posted on March 31, 2010


A few weeks ago over a Shabbat dinner, the topic of homosexuality came up. A younger (Chabad) Orthodox friend said that he would have no problem praying along side a gay man. But a gay Rabbi? Not something he was comfortable with. In fact, he could not see himself praying in a shul where the Rabbi was gay. I can understand his position even if I don’t agree with it. We have the luxury of being able choose our religious leaders and to pray as we see fit.

It appears that a congregation in Ohio has crossed a line that I cannot understand. When a Shomer Shabbat, and extremely learned man arrived to his new home community (having moved from NYC) he was greeted with that traditional Jewish phrase, “you are gay so you won’t be given any honors from the bimah.” Nice.

Another line was crossed when the Rabbi of the shul later communicated that this man was no longer welcome to join the minyan or attend services. In fact, it appears that the Rabbi delivered the message that the man would be forcibly removed from the shul should he return.

That is astounding to me. I wonder if this congregation has turned away other gay men. I’d be willing to bet they have had other members who are gay but perhaps not open about it. Have they been turned away too? What about the men who have lied, cheated, or stolen? Have they been forcibly removed? What about the adulterers? Is l’shon hara grounds for expulsion? Why in NY was this man a vital part of the community but in OH he is an outcast?

Seems to be a case of the golden rule at play. Those with the money told the rabbi what the rules are.

I’m creating a checklist for congregations so they can filter out those too objectionable to be included in a minyan. Let me know how many copies your shul might need. I’m recommending two for every member.