Being Gay is Like Eating Ham
David Gelernter has been the topic of discussion on these pages before. And the subject matter is always a bit of inside Jewish baseball that is probably a bit tedious to most — even me, who has some bizarre affinity for Jewish topics. But I could not resist pointing out the shameful and slipshod op-ed column Gelernter published today in The New York Sun. He writes in response to a decision this week by the Jewish Theological Seminary to accept openly gay and lesbian students into its rabbinical and cantorial schools. Gelernter thinks this is an affront to the role of a Rabbi, who should serve as a beacon of sorts to his congregation as a they strive to be the best Jews they can be. “A rabbi is like an officer in the Israeli army — he is expected to lead his men into battle and to say, ‘Follow me!'”
Gelernter then asks, quite ridiculously, whether we would think it alright if a certain Rabbinical student has a real persistent penchant for ham and caves in to those desire. “The Jew who publicly proclaims his love for ham sandwiches might be a wonderful person; might be a much better man than I. But he is the wrong man to be the rabbi at any kind of synagogue — Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform,” Gelernter reasons. So being gay is akin to eating ham?
But the lunacy reaches astonishing heights when Gelernter then proceeds to compare homosexual urges to heterosexual urges to commit adultery, both of which – to his mind – disqualify someone from the ranks of the rabbinate. This is really a grotesque comparison. The whole piece reads like a facile attempt to reconcile his own personal aversion to homosexuality with his equal personal – and constrained – reading of the Jewish tradition. It is pathetic.