Rabbi Levin (L) and Carl Paladino (front).(NYT)
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Homophobia Among the Haredim

The special problem and our special obligation

Marc Tracy
October 20, 2010
Rabbi Levin (L) and Carl Paladino (front).(NYT)

Your lunchtime reading is this moving essay from Jeremy Burton, the senior vice president of philanthropic initiatives at Jewish Funds for Justice, about his adolescent struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality, and how he sees the gay-baiting machinations of Rabbi Yehuda Levin.

It’s telling that of all places, it was among charedi Jews that Paladino chose to deliver his remarks, expecting and receiving a positive response. Because this community, the community I grew up in, fosters a culture of conformity, one where the message to youth is that “there is only one way to live, and it is our way.” The implication drawn, implicitly and explicitly, is that if you will not live “our way” then you might as well not live. …

Carl Paladino has expressed regret for his remarks, which at least says something about the state of acceptable political discourse in New York. From the decision of Rabbi Levin to then withdraw his endorsement of the candidate, and the silence of many others in the Orthodox community, together with the applause of Carl Paladino’s audience this week, we are reminded: those children need saving from those around them who claim to love them, but only for who they “ought” to be, and not for who they are.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.