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November 20, 1992 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-11-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

SIMCHA

events to support her
partner, and Simcha
president, Rachel.
Both women grew up
in Reform households,
dating men throughout
high school and most of
college. Rachel's mother
died knowing, and
accepting, her daughter's
homosexuality. Her
father is very supportive,
referring to Laura as his
"daughter out-law."
Laura's parents are
aware she is a lesbian
but do not discuss it.
Laura wrote her par-
ents a letter about her
preference. Rachel came
out more slowly.
"One day I told my
mother I didn't want to
date. Then later I told
her about a group of
great women I had met.
Then I told her these
women were lesbians.

Gersh Kaufman offers support for Lev Raphael's writing.

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person alive. I had no
positive gay role models."
With much trepidation
he called the hotline of
the gay and lesbian
Jewish group in Texas.
He said his name was
Charlie. After meeting
by phone, Aaron joined a
few members in a coffee
shop. Then he attended
his first meeting.
"It (the group) provid-
ed, for the first time,
positive gay role models.
They were politically
active, committed to
Judaism, had good jobs,
and just happened to be
gay," Aaron said.
Aaron found the same
type of people and ideals
in Detroit with Simcha
— which he describes as
a warm and loving com-
munity that is intelli-
gent, articulate and sup-
portive. In addition, he
has the opportunity to
find a Jewish partner —
his preference.
"I won't rule out any-
one," Aaron said. "But
the Jews I've dated, I
feel more comfortable
with. There is a sense of
common history, common
world view, common
value as a minority.
There is an assumed set
of basic Jewish knowl-

edge that need not be
explained, defended or
apologized for."
Aaron is perhaps more
religious than many
Simcha members, grow-
ing up in a traditional
home, the child of
Holocaust survivors. It
was important for him to
find a way to live as a
gay man while retaining
his Jewish identity.
"There have been some
excellent articles on the
treatment, or lack of
treatment, of gays and
lesbians in the Bible. In
my coming out I read
these articles by renown-
ed scholars. They made
sense. They completely
neutralized what could
be pronounced as nega-
tive about homosexuali-
ty," Aaron said. "It's
clear to me now that
Leviticus is responding
to adultery, not homosex-
uality."
Laura is not much con-
cerned with the religious
aspects of Simcha, often
avoiding the once-a-
month religious services
and showing up only for
the Oneg Shabbat. But
she enjoys socializing
with other Jews on a cul-
tural level. In addition,
Laura attends Simcha

"It's clear to
me now that
Leviticus is
res onding to
a ultery, not
homosexuality."

Aaron

Then I told her I was in
love," Rachel recalled.
Laura and Rachel's
relationship developed
through Simcha.
Rachel and Laura had
been introduced by a
mutual friend. Rachel
was very attracted to
Laura and discovered
she was on Simcha's
board of directors.
Rachel attended their
Chanukah party.
They have been togeth-
er for four years.
Women account for
only 30 percent of
Simcha's membership —
something Rachel and
Laura would like to see
change.
"The men in the group
are really open to and
supportive of women,"
Laura said. "But we need
to start addressing
issues of feminism in
Simcha. I'm fearful we

are
not
attracting
enough women, enough
feminists."
Rachel and Laura have
begun annual women's
events in their home,
separate from Simcha
without undermining its
goals.
"It is unique and won-
derful that gay men and
women come together the
way we do in Simcha.
But, women need their
own space beyond
Simcha," Rachel said.
When Dan came out,
he told his female friends
first.
Six months after a
friend told him she was a
lesbian, Dan told her he
was gay. She just
laughed and kept walk-
ing and talking — the
way it had always been.
Dan didn't know any
other gay men and avoid-
ed the bars. So when he
ran into a school buddy
at gay and lesbian
Pridefest he was thrilled.
"He was getting ready
to attend a Jewish gay
and lesbian conference in
Amsterdam. I never
heard of such a thing,"
Dan said. "And when he
returned, he invited me
to form a study group —
the study group that
became Simcha."
Like Aaron, Dan need-
ed a way to piece his sex-
ual and religious identi-
ties together. Therapy
and Simcha were key.
"I do believe I was cre-
ated in God's image. So
how can something be
`wrong' with me?" Dan
said.
"I'll still never forget
one of my first experi-
ences with other gay
Jews, sitting in a Hillel
in Cleveland at the
Midwest Conference of
Gay and Lesbian Jews.
Seventy-five gays and
lesbians davening. All
the songs and melodies
were still on the tip of
my tongue though I
hadn't been to shul in
years."
For Gersh Kaufman
and Lev Raphael, the
Midwest Conference of
Gay and Lesbian Jews in

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