Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Hashem doesn't create junk."

During winter break my wife and I went to Israel for a short vacation. Every morning I would walk the streets of Jerusalem for about an hour starting at 8 AM. On my first day there I bumped into an aquaintance who used to live in my neighborhood, but moved about nine years ago to another part of the city. Around the time when they moved there were rumors about their son.

We stopped to chat for a few minutes about our flights, our wives, kids and we said that maybe we would bump into each other on the following day. We found it amusing that we never see each other in our home town but in Jerusalem we literally bump into each other.

As we went our separate ways, I stopped in my tracks and decided to figuratively go down a road and not turn back.

I turned around and called out to my friend again. When we got closer I touched his arm and said, "I have to ask you a question. You can choose not to answer." I then asked, "is your son gay?" He replied, "I am not going to answer that."
To which I interrupted, "the reason why I am asking you this is because my son came out about two months ago."
At this point, we located a park bench and proceeded to tell our respective stories.

His son came out to his parents about nine years ago, but he is still not out to the world. Only a select few of their friends and family know that their son is gay.

After we talked for a while we decided to meet again later on in the week. We arranged to meet for tea on Shabbos afternoon. As we sat together under the warm Jerusalem sun we all discussed our experience as parents of gay children. We revelled in our sons' accomplishments and in their midos. We shared some of the funny stories and we cried as we shared the painful and cruel ones.

As it turns out, this was the first time in nine years that these people were able to share this experience with people who have a similar experience.

As we were leaving, the wife told us that when her son was at an especially low point she tried to encourage him with her own pearl of wisdom. She advised him that "Hashem doesn't create junk."

A few weeks later, as we were enduring the cold of the northeast, I got a call from the wife asking if we would like to go with them to a lecture by Rabbi Steve Greenberg. Before the lecture began, she turned to me and said, "had you not stopped my husband, we would not be sitting here tonight. This is the first time in nine years that we are attending a public event such as this."

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Fairy Tale for Modern Times

Once upon a time, in a land far away, stood a magnificent place of higher learning. It rested on the top of a small mountain overlooking the rest of the world. Students came from the four corners of the world to sit and study at the tables of learning.

At this magnificent place there was a teacher. Students would come from the four corners of the world to hear his words. And his students loved him. When the teacher would leave this place and travel to the four corners of the world, his students would follow him to hear his words, for the students loved him.

And this teacher had a niece. She travelled from another part of the world to be near her uncle and to learn from him. The niece loved the uncle and the uncle loved the niece.

And it came to pass that a special young man came from another part of the world to study at the table of this teacher. The young man learned much from the teacher. The student loved the teacher and the teacher loved the student.

When it came time for the niece to be of the age to be married, the uncle approached the niece and told her that he had the right young man for her. The teacher loved them both and thought that they would be perfect for each other. When the niece asked the uncle of this special young man that he wanted her to meet, tears came to her eyes when she was told his name.

The uncle asked his niece "why do you cry when I mention the young man's name?"

The niece replied "I know this young man and I have loved him for some time. But this young man can never marry me even though I know that he loves me."

The niece explained the ways of the world to her uncle.

After the niece spoke to the uncle, he said, "but he's such a great guy, I don't undertand."

The niece replied "yes uncle, he is such a great guy."