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Areleh Harel: The Orthodox Rabbi Helping Gay Men to Marry Lesbians

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Areleh Harel: The Orthodox Rabbi Helping Gay Men to Marry Lesbians

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Six years ago, Areleh Harel, an Orthodox rabbi from the West Bank, devised a plan to help an Orthodox Jewish gay man fulfill his dream of becoming a husband and father while keeping him in good standing with the Jewish law and his community of believers. The solution: Marry him to a lesbian.

Through a friend, Harel found an Orthodox lesbian who also wanted a traditional family. Within a year, the couple married. They now have two children. No one suspects they are gay. Since that first arrangement, Harel has matched 13 gay-lesbian couples.
(See why gay-marriage still isn't marriage for the religious.)

Until this spring, a handful of people knew of his matchmaking project. Then Harel mentioned it during a panel discussion in Jerusalem on gay rights. A local reporter wrote about it and the news went viral.

Many gay leaders criticized the marriages, calling them deceitful and repressive. But several prominent rabbis supported Harel, calling his work a mitzvah or good deed. As the news spread, Harel's phone began ringing. Orthodox gay men were calling to ask: Could this be right for me?

Harel, 37, says the number of gay people seeking matches sparked his decision to take his project to the next level — the internet. By September, he plans to unveil an online matchmaking service for Orthodox gay people. "This is the best solution we can offer people who want to live within the halacha [Jewish law]," Harel says. "This may not be a perfect solution, but it's kind of a solution."

The matchmaking project comes at a time when Orthodox gay and lesbian groups are pressuring rabbis for acceptance. Prior to 2007, there were no Orthodox gay organizations in Israel. Now, there are five, including one based in Jerusalem. In many ways, Israel is ground zero for gay rights for Orthodox Jewish people. Advocates say that if rabbis in the Holy Land become more accepting of gay people, that tolerance will reverberate outward into Orthodox communities throughout the world, which often take their cues from Israel.


Read more: Areleh Harel: The Orthodox Rabbi Helping Gay Men to Marry Lesbians - TIME
 

catzmeow

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I don't think that gay people stop being gay people just because they marry someone of the opposite sex. But, if this rabbi is able to help people live full, complete, and happy lives, then more power to him. In my ideal world, gay marriage between two consenting adults would be recognized as legitimate by everyone. But until we get there, baby steps. Whatever increases the happiness of people who suffer a lot is a bonus.
 

Truthmatters

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there are many more gay men than lesians in the world
 

Sky Dancer

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I wonder if a gay man marrying a lesbian in a Christian marriage ceremony would satisfy the Christians?

Maybe all they want us to do is go back in the closet and pretend.t

This has already been tried, and it failed miserably. But I think Christians were happier with this kind of delusion.

Point of fact, my wife and I married the same man. We remained close, like family until he died.
 
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catzmeow

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I wonder if a gay man marrying a lesbian in a Christian marriage ceremony would satisfy the Christians?

Maybe all they want us to do is go back in the closet and pretend.

This has already been tried, and it failed miserably. But I think Christians were happier with this kind of delusion.

I think that you're talking about two separate concepts. One concept is an openly gay man marrying an openly lesbian woman, knowing that they are not going to change their basic nature, but the two teaming up, in essence, to participate in creating a family. This isn't that different from hetero couples who are essentially platonic, but who have relatively happy marriages and families. Nobody is suggesting that the gay man or lesbian convert to play for the other team. This is just a way of creating an oasis of love in a hostile environment.

The other is a sort of Christian marriage many of us are familiar with, where a closeted gay man or lesbian marries a hetero person, without telling the person who they really are, and lives their lives in the closet, either forever, or until they become so miserable they can't stand it anymore and leave. I don't think that's a good scenario.

On the other hand, who am I to tell a gay person how he/she should live her life and marry? If a gay person wants to pretend to be hetero, marry and have a hetero life, and as long as that person behaves ethically toward his/her hetero spouse, and both people are as happy as the average couple, who am I to judge?

I don't think there is one right way to be gay. Do you?
 
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I think this kind of marriage may work for some people. In the case of my wife and I, we certainly were family with T, his mother, his sisters, and his partner.

Unusual family relations have been the norm for me. I spent my high school years living with my father and his partner in an apartment behind their beauty shop. Neither of them was monogamous, or "out" as gay men. They'd both been married and had children. They "pretended" to be heterosexual, they both dated women.

The household was full of colorful characters in my teenage years. My father's partner was more of a real dad to me than my father was.

If people focused more on what creates love in a family, and less on what people do in bed in the privacy of their homes there would be far less strife over this issue of equality in marriage than there is.
 

catzmeow

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I think this kind of marriage may work for some people. In the case of my wife and I, we certainly were family with T, his mother, his sisters, and his partner.

...If people focused more on what creates love in a family, and less on what people do in bed in the privacy of their homes there would be far less strife over this issue of equality in marriage than there is.

What makes a family is love and commitment. That's basically all it requires.
 

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