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June 21, 1996 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-06-21

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Community Views

Editor's Notebook

Coming To Terms:
Lifestyle And Religion

It's A Lottery
We Need To Win



In coming to known she was a lesbian since
terms with being the age of 11. Her "late" coming
gay and lesbian, out was a result of wanting chil-
one has to explore dren but not knowing how hav-
how it affects ing a child would work with
each area of one's another woman — especially find-
life. One of these ing one that was Jewish.
Naomi has always wanted chil-
areas is religion.
It can be hard dren and wanted to raise them in
enough knowing a Jewish household. She thought
where to turn in confronting be- about staying closeted just to
ing gay and lesbian. But where marry a Jewish man and have
does one turn for supportive reli- children, but decided against it.
Instead, she has chosen to be out
gious and spiritual guidance?
As a gay Jew, I only had my and authentic.
She, too, recalls most of her
own personal experiences to count
on when I was coming out. The
information was sparse
back in 1982 when I
was 19 years old,
and I felt very
When I came out,
I lost all of my Jew-
ish heterosexual
male friends. Not a
word was said as to
why. But I knew.
They were uncom-
fortable. My Jewish
female friends
thought they could
change me. My
male and female
gentile friends, on
the other hand, were
supportive and under-
standing for the most
I was in therapy with
two different Jewish therapists,
both of whom tried to convince me
to live a straight lifestyle so that Jewish heterosexual friends drop-
my "life would be less complicat- ping her, without discussing it,
ed." I was asked out loud in front following her coming out. Her
of my parents in a family thera- gentile friends predominately re-
py session why I would do such a mained her friends. And then she
thing as tell my family I was gay. discovered Simcha.
Simcha is an organization for
At the age of 21, I consulted
with a rabbi who I felt attempted Jewish lesbian and gay persons
to scare me about AIDS and dis- and their partners, family and
couraged me from coming out and friends. It is a place where Jew-
living as a gay man. Conse- ish lesbian and gay Jews can be-
quently, I felt very removed and gin to integrate their Judaism
isolated from the Jewish com- and sexual orientation. For me,
munity. And then I discovered it was the first time in my life that
I could hold my head up high and
For a Jewish lesbian, some be openly proud of being a gay
similarities, as well as some dif- Jew.
For Naomi, it brought hope of
ferences, exist. Naomi Silverman
recalls coming out seven years meeting that Jewish female part-
ago at the age of 25. She had ner. She states that Simcha has
helped her feel solid and at peace
Joe Kort is a psychotherapist in
with herself as a Jewish lesbian.
private practice in Royal Oak.
Another Simcha member re-

rONLY iF His - 1


,H6161 -11S I.

calls being supported and em-
braced by his male and female
Jewish peers before entering the
organization. He cannot recall los-
ing any friendships but instead
believes coming out strengthened
his friendships because of the lev-
el of honesty it raised.
For him, Simcha was a place
to receive additional support.
Simcha mixes religious events
with social events. Some of the
events include Friday night
Onegs, Passover dinners, Christ-
mas Eve in a Chinese restaurant
(like so many other Jews), Bagels
and Bobkas (a membership dri-
ve) and Family and
Friends Oneg.
Simcha began
eight years ago with
support from the Na-
tional Council of Jew-
ish Women, which
allowed the group to
use its office space to
The Family and
Friends Oneg has been
the most significant
for me. It is a once-a-
year event to which
all family, friends
and partners are invit-
ed to come together and
welcome the Sabbath.
It is a time when gay,
lesbian and straight
Jews, and gentiles,
can join on common
ground in a setting
that is familiar to
sing, pray, light candles and
break bread.
I will never forget my bubbie
putting her babushka on, pray-
ing and being in a holy setting.
Later she would boast about me
to whoever would listen. How
healing for me to be my authen-
tic self as a gay male embracing
my religion with my partner and
That is what life is about —
being authentic and being with
my partner in the eyes of my re-
If you are gay or lesbian,
or someone in your family is,
and you are Jewish, I would
highly recommend participation
in Simcha events. For informa-
tion, call the Simcha hotline,
(810) 353-8025. Confidentiality
is assured. ❑


Have you got

one of those
cork bulletin
boards in your
kitchen where
message after
message gets
tacked? Every-
thing is there,
from bar mitz-
vah invitations to grocery lists
to reminders to coupons.
We've got one in my house.
It's a sea of small pieces of pa-
per. Sometimes when I pull one
tack out, about five messages
float to the floor.
On our bulletin board, a rare
visitor will sometimes pop up.
Here it comes: True confes-
sions. Yes, I play the state lot-
tery every once in a while. OK,
since I'm confessing, I admit
that if the jackpot is up to like
20 zillion, rm there with my $5
"easy pick." Anyway, when I
buy these Lotto tickets, I tack
them on the bulletin board. By
the way, I once actually got
three numbers out of six. Re-
ally, though, nothing else has
come close. It's probably a
waste of money.
Last Sunday, I was working
around the kitchen and some-
thing about our brown cork
bulletin board caught my eye:
lottery tickets tacked on the
board with the typical "yeah,
get real" numbers on them.
They were from a lottery that
happened weeks ago. I just
hadn't bothered to clean up the
bulletin board.
The same thumbtack that
held them on the board also
held a flier. It had the photo of
a child on it and announced
that on Saturday and Sunday,
June 22 and 23, a bone-mar-
row donor match drive would
take place.
There are actually two chil-
dren with Detroit connections
who have leukemia and who
desperately need to find a bone-
marrow match. I am not one to
encourage Jews to get in the
car and do anything on a Sat-
urday, on the Sabbath. But Ha-
lachah is very clear when it
comes to saving someone's life.
This applies, but only if you
can't get over on Sunday to the
Rock Financial offices, 30600
Telegraph Road, fourth floor,
where the donor drive, "A
Match For Life," is scheduled
to be held.
Donors should be in good
health and between the ages of
16 and 60.
Please, please be there.
This community has two
children who need bone-mar-
row transplants desperately.
One of the children is Lauren
Cohn, 4, of Huntington Woods

and the daughter of Gary Cohn
and Kathy Cantor Cohn. The
drive could also help 2-year-old
Coby Levi of Teaneck, N.J.
Coby's grandparents are Ben-
no and Ruth Levi of Oak Park.
Even if there were no Detroit
ties, the fact that any child or
adult is suffering should be
enough to motivate us to want
to help.
My own personal irony is
that I believe Coby and Lauren
are facing their own "lottery"
of sorts. We cannot let them
lose. Maybe it's not our choice.
But I believe that we can stack
the odds as best we can in their
If we knew that the lottery
for a particular week was up to
$20 million, many of us who
normally don't gamble would
at least give it a play. The
stakes are much higher here,
folks. The prize is life.

A "lottery"

What would you do if you
won $20 million in the lottery?
How many of us have played
that mental game? Let's see,
first we'd give 10 percent to
charity. Then we'd get rid of
the bills. Then we'd help our
family. But how about that
house by the lake? How about
those travel plans, that sum-
mer in Israel, that convertible,
that fur coat?
The families of these
children have different priori-
ties. We need to join them in
their thinking. Parents of
preschoolers should have the
experience of checking out
nursery schools, finger paint-
ings taped to the refrigerator,
play groups, and debating
whether a wood or a metal
swing set is better.
This is as blunt as I've ever
been in this column: Please put
down the golf clubs, be a little
late for the manicure or the
swim team. Please, get over to
Rock Financial and get a sim-
ple blood test. You have no idea
what it all could mean. If your
blood matches that of Coby or
Lauren or any other person
registered by the National
Marrow Donor Registry who
needs a transplant, you'll have
"won" something that money
can't touch.
No more preaching here.
We all know what we've got to

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