La La How The Life Goes On

Oy Gayvalt!

Posted on: November 13, 2014

Differing perspectives on one story. That of a respected rabbi in DC coming out to his congregation.

I obviously share the perspective of the first article which is, to put it plainly, YAWN. An upheaval, to be sure, for his family (he is married with three kids). But for me and his congregation? The response should be to treat this as the theological non-story that it is. Or, more accurately, as the synagogue president put it: “We understand that Rabbi Steinlauf will be undergoing a challenging personal transition in the coming months, and we extend to him patience and a generous spirit.”

The third article by an Orthodox rabbi not surprisingly wishes Rabbi Steinlauf well–and wonders aloud why he doesn’t climb back into the closet he so excellently resided in for years. You know, for the benefit of those around him.

What about his congregants? Well, if they loved and trusted him before this announcement, I can’t imagine why any decent human being who claims to live by the principles of Judaic lovingkindness would suddenly be unable to love and trust him now.

What about his wife? What I find most interesting in all of these articles is the assumption that HE is divorcing HER. He should stay married! What about the kids!? Nowhere does it occur to anyone that perhaps SHE is divorcing HIM! From the articles above, it is clear that his wife has supported him in his questioning and in his coming out. A rabbi herself with a career of her own, she doesn’t sound to me like some poor sad sack of a woman being abandoned by this terrible gay man being gay. Perhaps she is the one who is seeking the divorce, for the benefit of her entire family. In the end, it sounds mutual and respect-filled, and honestly, like none of our damn business.

What about his kids? The short answer is that they are not alone, and if the Adas Israel community is as I remember it to be from my days in DC, they will be enveloped in the support and love of their community.

In short, I offer support to Rabbi Steinlauf and his family. To his community. And to every human–child or adult–who is wrestling with this question. Harvey Milk said it best (understanding that it’s Easier Said Than Done):

“Every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and all. And once you do, you will feel so much better.” –Harvey Milk


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