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Fri Feb 1, 2019, 06:18 AM

To My Gay Friends: I'm Not Here for Your "Casual" Anti-Semitism [View all]

I donít believe in organized religion. To me, Jewish identity is about history, family, tradition. Itís less about a preset order of prayers to absolve one of sin. I attended Shabbat services a few months ago at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST)óthe nationís largest LGBTQ synagogue. During services, my friend Josh ran in and plopped down beside me. Josh looks like the long-lost son of Al Pacinoóif Al had shacked up with a Hebraic woman.

We agreed to catch up over coffee a few days later. As I approached Ninth Avenue, I saw Josh waiting for me, waving wildly from across the street with a toothy smile. He removed his baseball cap to reveal a yarmulke. He told me he wears the baseball cap to avoid the stares he gets. In addition to being an Orthodox Jew, Josh is also openly gay, but if you didnít know him, you would think he was a perfectly secular mensch living in Hellís Kitchen.

Wearing his Jewishness on his head, Josh has a difficult time dating. As soon as he tells a boy that he keeps kosher and has separate sets of dishes (one for meat, one for dairy), the guy says itís not going to work.

ďDo you think it would be the same for observant Christians?Ē he asked me as our cappuccinos arrived. I honestly didnít know. Christians didnít have separate dishes. It felt to us like there was an ick factor if you were an observant Jew.

ďWe are gay with our Jewish friends and Jewish with our gay friends,Ē was the comment one congregant offered at CBST. I was 18 at the time and this was my first Yom Kippur attending services. Indeed, this insight illuminated feelings I never realized I had.

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