LGBTJews.org relayed the news that HOD, a Hebrew acronym for “Gay Religious Jews,” is a new website created to counter misinformation about LGBT issues involving religious Jews. Geared toward religiously conservative Jews who live in Israel, HOD has an extensive Hebrew site and a brand new, fairly sparse English site that they hope will reach out to Jews all over the world. They specifically exist to counter Atzat-Nefesh, a site which they say has been key in promoting untruths about gay Jews – specifically, that their orientation can be changed:
Up to now the only website catering to the religious gay community was atzat-nefesh (www.atzat-nefesh.org), which was basically run by straight people that publicly stated that a religious person cannot be gay. They tried to ‘turn’ gay religious people straight, which is something that we know cannot be done. We try to help people reconcile their religious beliefs and their sexual orientation.
It’s important to counter this myth, because the more Jews see the evidence that homosexuality is not a choice, the more likely they will be supportive of the LGBTQ community:
Elliot Dorff, the rector of Los Angeles’s American Jewish University and a co-author of the rabbinic opinion that opened the doors for gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex unions in Conservative Judaism, said the scientific evidence that the opinion presented, showing that sexual orientation is not a choice, has been a key factor in swaying rabbis. Before the hard-fought opinion passed, Dorff said, it would have been far more difficult to convince Conservative rabbis to rally behind the cause of same-sex marriage.
However, far from being “out,” the creators of HOD do not reveal their names. There is still a strong current of homophobia that runs through Israel’s religious community. But the creators of the site are nonetheless determined to make their presence known, and have even engaged in face-to-face dialogs with staunchly conservative rabbis to put a human face on the struggle of LGBTQ persons in Israel.