Being Gay and Jewish
Before I was gay, I was Jewish.
I have always loved being Jewish and personally felt like I had a special relationship with “God.” I never really thought of God as a man or a woman, just a voice in my head that I could talk to when I needed someone. A force out there that encouraged me to make the right choices.
When I realized I was gay, I thought I had to choose between being Jewish and being gay. I was raised in the Chabad sect of Judaism — for unfamiliar readers, it’s an orthodox sect — and you weren’t “allowed” to be gay in Chabad. And as a child, I didn’t know there were other forms of Judaism. So I was faced with quite a conflict.
When I came out to myself, I left the synagogue I had grown up in and joined the neighboring Reformed synagogue — literally across the street — where I knew some kids from high school went.
After high school I moved to Israel and that was when I saw what being gay and Jewish really looked like. Tel Aviv is continuously ranked the gayest city in the world, and while living there, I was able to meet new people, explore my religion, and realize exactly who I was. For the first time in my life I wasn’t under the watchful eye of my parents and I had the opportunity to be an out-of-the-closet version of myself. I was never in the closet again and I fell deeper in love with being Jewish while living in Israel.
Now, at 29, I find myself living my most authentic life. I’m happily married to my wife —who is also Jewish and began dating while living in Israel. And, we joyously welcomed our first child into the world only two months ago, making me feel even more connected to my religion than ever.
My wife Sydney and I are members of a Reconstructionist synagogue in Malibu, Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue (MJC&S), which, for the first 9 years of our relationship, was led by our female rabbi, our gay cantor, and with members from all parts of the LGBT family. It’s where we were married and where we plan on raising our family. One of our favorite things about MJC&S are the Shabbat on the Beach events during the summer.
I’m also involved in a organization called JQ International, that fosters gay and Jewish identities so people never feel like they need to choose between their religion and being gay. Some of my favorite things JQ International offers are Shebrew Shabbats, Pride Shabbats (which kicks off Pride month), and an overall opportunity to connect and build friendships with other gay Jews in Los Angeles.
Had someone told me 10 years ago this would be my life, I would have never believed them.