Out of touch rabbi

February 16, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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The Jewish Community Council of Victoria has its say on comments made by Rabbi Zvi Telsner at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse  hearing with regard to curing homosexuals.

jccvMuch of the evidence presented at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse over the past two weeks has been seriously disturbing, appalling and distressing. One of the lows was the statement made by Rabbi Zvi Telsner, a senior rabbi in the Yeshivah community, that homosexuals can be ‘cured’.

This is repulsive, ignorant and insulting, demonstrating a serious departure from the views of the mainstream Jewish community.

Rabbi Telsner also linked paedophilia and homosexuality in his testimony. Any such linking is disturbing and indeed toxic. Those comments are poisonous to people of diverse sexual preference, their families and friends.

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) signed up to the ‘No To Homophobia’ campaign in 2013, the first and possibly only faith community to do so and we urged our affiliates to do likewise. 26 Jewish community organisations have also signed up to the campaign, including the Australian Union of Jewish students (AUJS), Progressive Judaism Victoria, Jewish Care, Jewish Aid, the Jewish Holocaust Centre and the Jewish Museum. Obviously Rabbi Telsner, whose organisation is not affiliated to JCCV, did not sign up.


15 Responses to “Out of touch rabbi”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Rabbi Tzi Telsner should know better than to speak about things on which he is ignorant. Ignorance breeds intolerance and the Rabbi’s statement linking paedophilia and homosexuality is not only stupid, it’s dangerous. If taken seriously by those under his influence who are also ignorant or accept everything he says because he’s a Rabbi, then it incites discrimination and possibly worse. This is an example of why Judaic knowledge alone is not enough for good practice of Rabbinical duties. The Rabbi can speak the lines of the Torah that mention homosexual acts, but can’t go further than that; indeed I wonder in the 21st century, with the scientific knowledge we now have at our disposal, what the purpose of focussing on those lines would be.

    There are all sorts of things we don’t do today that are mentioned in the Torah, we don’t kill animals for a sacrificial ceremony, we don’t stone people to death. So let’s be careful what we pick and choose as to what’s okay and what isn’t.

    As for the Rabbi telling the Royal Commission homosexuality is curable – unbelievable! It’s embarrassing.

  2. Miriam Fletcher says:

    Amazing, Michael Barnett and his (non-Jewish [not that it makes the slightest difference halachically] male partner, is OK for the JCCV, but a loyal Torah-observant Rabbi, is “repulsive, ignorant and insulting, demonstrating a serious departure from the views of the mainstream Jewish community”.

    What a disgrace and chutzpah by the JCCV

    • Michael Barnett says:

      Miriam, I think you’ll find the point is that what this “loyal Torah-observant Rabbi” has said is out of touch with the reality of the world we live in, a world in which I can have a husband if I want to. We do not “cure” homosexual people and we do not compare homosexuality with paedophilia, much like we don’t stone people to death any more, nor do we let men have multiple wives. The world has moved on. You can either move on too or be left behind, like this rabbi.

  3. ben gershon says:

    might be a rabbi .but not a mantch


  4. David Adler says:

    “Rabbi Telsner also linked paedophilia and homosexuality in his testimony. Any such linking is disturbing and indeed toxic.”

    What proportion of institutional child abuse is homosexual in nature? What proportion is heterosexual?

    • Michael Barnett says:

      David, I’m not sure if you understand, but in Australia it’s not illegal to be homosexual. However it is illegal to rape children. You might like to focus on the issue of consent rather than target the sexuality (perceived or actual) of the offenders. Because a man rapes male children does not make him homosexual. It just makes him a male boy rapist.

    • Schneur Naji says:

      As a Lubavitcher I find Rabbi Telsner’s comments an embarrassment, inappropriate and counterproductive.
      Is he resigning?.

  5. Michael Barnett says:

    As convenor of Aleph Melbourne, a support organisation for same-sex attracted and gender-diverse people in the Jewish community, I welcome this statement from the JCCV distancing calls from within the Orthodox rabbinate that homosexuality can be cured along with any misguided notion that it is, in any way, aligned with paedophilia.

    I hear all too often of marginalised and isolated people of all ages who have felt unsafe to openly express their sexuality amongst their families and peers. When orthodox rabbis continue to use language that hurts members of their communities, they are actively destroying the people they wish to support.

    Rather than victimise people with diverse sexual orientation and/or gender identity, these Orthodox rabbis could look to their peers in the Progressive and Conservative Jewish communities, who are actively acknowledging and affirming these people. They could also look to the Best Practices of organisations like Beyond Blue, the relevant state and national sexual health councils and welfare organisations for some sensible and proven advice on how to treat same-sex attracted and gender diverse people as worthy citizens, with dignity and respect. The people they victimise have committed no crime and do not deserve their contempt and ignorance.

    Michael Barnett.
    Convenor, Aleph Melbourne

  6. Mijo says:

    “first and possibly only faith community to do so”

    That’s pretty sad.

    The Torah refers to homosexuality as “Toevah”.

    One is not born with a “Toevah”.

    How could Rabbi Telsner, as a Jew, go against the Torah? Answer: He didn’t.

    The JCCV should have a long hard look at the first letter of their name.

    • Michael Barnett says:

      We are all human. We are all equal. No one has the right to place moral judgement on another person for something that is a non-criminal intrinsic part of their personality. IF you feel it’s against your religion to be homosexual, let your god make that call. Don’t be that god.

      The JCCV believes all people should be treated equality. They are not a religious body but an organisation that represents the various Jewish perspectives in their community. You might disagree with others on what being Jewish means, but no one owns that definition. Not the JCCV, and most certainly not you.

      • Schneur Naji says:

        If a person is an Orthodox Jew, by definition she cannot give the green light to homosexual behavior, however no one needs to be vindictive or hurtful and disparage homosexuals as people.
        Ahavas Yisroel must be shown to all Jews and decency to all human beings.

        • Schneur Naji says:

          one should never equate homosexuality and pedophilia, the later is a heinous crime akin to murder perpetrated again innocent children.
          Orthodox Judaism does not place them in the same category.
          Homosexuality is not a illness which can be cured, it is an orientation which is not supported by the Torah.

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