LGBT community loses an ally

Rabbi Jake

When I hear about religious people being put on trial, as in the case of Rev. Jane Spahr, or religious schools rejecting children because their parents are gay or lesbian, it makes the death last week of Rabbi Lawrence Jackofsky so much sadder because we need religious allies.

Rabbi Jake was the director of the Southwest Council of the Union for Reform Judaism. His office was in Dallas and he was always on the side of the LGBT community.

Rabbi Jake helped Congregation Beth El Binah become a member of the Union for Reform Judaism. His only change in the temple’s bylaws was wording of a sentence that called the group a gay and lesbian synagogue. He said synagogues don’t have a sexual orientation and other synagogues weren’t straight synagogues.

But at the time other synagogues weren’t welcoming the LGBT community. His goal was to have a synagogue with outreach to the LGBT community in every city in his district.

In San Antonio, that meant a new small temple. Beth El Binah now has a torah on long-term loan to that synagogue. In Houston, it meant connecting LGBT leaders from that city and Dallas. There, the larger synagogues established programs to welcome the LGBT community. In New Orleans and Austin, it meant bringing speakers from Beth El Binah to help open their temples to LGBT members where they are now important parts of their synagogues.

When the AIDS crisis hit Congregation Beth El Binah hard in the early 90s, Rabbi Jake spent quite a bit of time visiting members in hospitals and at home. In June, Rabbi Jake was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. He died on Aug. 23 and is survived by his wife, Ellen, and son Daniel.

—  David Taffet

Don’t kiss, don’t tell, don’t care

Next time someone mentions Judeo-Christian values, point to this one, which comes more from the Judeo side, I imagine.

The liberal Israeli newspaper HaAretz published a photo over the weekend of an Israeli soldier kissing another man, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Mostly the paper was concerned with how hot the kiss was.

The picture was taken at Jerusalem’s Pride parade on July 29.

The article takes two paragraphs to describe the kiss graphically. “Both stand in a public place, giving a performance, showing how it’s done correctly, feeding him to become his own,” the author writes in Hebrew. But after describing the passionate kiss, he says “people stand around not even looking.”

“I can kiss the person I want the same way that another soldier can kiss whoever he wants,” the writer says. (I believe that’s an imagined quote, describing the scene, rather than something the solider actually told him.)

In the past there have been demonstrations against a Pride parade in Jerusalem. This year, bystanders hardly looked, he said. The last paragraph, however, talks about the older man with the mustache taking a picture of the two men. The writer wonders what the man captured in his camera and questions if he was even looking at the two men embracing since his eyes seem to be looking more at the writer than the men.

Israel eliminated its voluntary deferment for gays and lesbians to serve in the military in 1993. That same year, the U.S. began “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

My translation may be a little off because my Hebrew school classes prepared me to say things more like “you shall not eat flesh from a cloven-hoofed animal like a pig or a camel because it is an abomination” rather than “two men kissed each other passionately in Jerusalem to show straight people how to do it.” However, synagogues take note: Using articles like this may be a better way to keep students interested.

—  David Taffet