Rabbonim Sign Letter Forbidding Participation In Israeli Day Parade Due To ‘Toeiva Groups’


pThe following article was submitted to YWN by the writer, Alan Betsalel Friedlander. It has not been edited in any form by YWN, and presented in its entirety below:

The Celebrate Israel Parade is an event attended heavily by Modern Orthodox Jewish attendees. A group listed only by its initials as a participant in this year’s parade participants list actually has a hidden agenda. In a brazen attempt to force Orthodox Jews to accept their way of life at the Torah’s expense, the understanding that was maintained for two decades has been overturned, without asking for Rabbinic authorization.

In the 1990’s Rabbi Aharon Soloveichik, Zt”l (OBM), protested against showing tolerance toward homosexuals as a public marching group at the Celebrate Israel Parade. Up until last year, his advice had been heeded. Avi Goldstein brought this to the attention of the community this year and so many leading Rabbis have signed a letter that proclaims:

”Any participation in any event that includes so called “Orthodox” groups, who in any way condone or support toevah (abomination), or a deviant way of life, is asur (forbidden). Whoever is a participant or spectator is an assistant to a sinful matter. Such a brazen public chilul HaShem (desecration of the Divine Name) needs to be denounced.

Co-Signatory Rabbi Yehuda Sheinkopf said the following: “We could not let this group march under a banner of Orthodoxy without a response that this is not Orthodoxy, is it contrary to the Torah. These rabbis feel that it must be known that to join with such a group is assisting their agenda which is contrary to the Torah.”

Rabbi Yisroel Belsky gave a heter (leniency) if due to the short notice for someone who feels committed to the event what should they do so they can still attend without violating halacha. The answer was on condition that they protest the participation of the forbidden group(s).

If you wish to protest this event, the 2013 Parade occurs this Sunday, June 2, from 11 AM to 4PM in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue from 57th Street to 74th.

Due to the late nature of disclosure, this list of signatories (in alphabetical order) is still being populated even as this story goes to press.

Rabbi Yisroel Belsky

Rabbi Eliyahu Elbaz

Rabbi Eliezer Ginzburg

Rabbi Yosef Rabinowitz

Rabbi Aharon Moshe Schechter

Rabbi Moshe Scheinerman

Rabbi Avrohom Schorr

Rabbi Yehuda Sheinkopf


(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. It’s nice to sign a paper, but where are the details? What group?

    EDITED / NOTE BY MODERATORS: Please direct those questions to the Rabbi (Rabbis) who signed the letter.

  2. I did find one organization that is listed as Orthodox, but they don’t seem to be doing anything wrong. They are a support group.

  3. The Satmar Rav couldn’t get even a handful of American Rabonnim to sign a letter like this decades ago. B”h we’ve come along way. Shkoyach!

  4. Given that suport for “Toeiva” has become a basic belief of virtually all non-Orthodox groups within the Jewish community, and opposition to “Toeiva” is seen by them as a form of heresey — doesn’t this mean the “herem” is against doing anything with the non-Orthodox.

    And now the issue of zionism. All the secular zionists, besides supporting a war on the hareidi community in Israel, are also advocates of “Toeiva”.

    However the pro-zionist hareidi parties in Eretz Yisrael (Agudah, Degel ha-Torah, and Shas) are seeking to ally with the Israeli left in order to block conscription – but their prospective allies are also pro-Toeiva (indeed the only opposition to Toeiva in Israel is from the hareidim and the non-secular Arabs).

    So this might get interesting.

  5. I understand and respect this psak. However, the school my kids attend will be marching, and my Rav (as well as his Rebbe) support the parade. Therefore, I will be following the opinion of my Rav.

    I honestly don’t know if I’ll be attending – my kids are still in pre-school, and it’s tough for them to be out in the sun for so long, with no bathrooms around. But if I don’t attend, it will be because of that reason, not because of the letter from these Rabbonim.

    For those who follow the Rabbonim who signed, I applaud your protest of the toeivah groups.

  6. Dear Moderators,
    Will you post my comments or is your role to censor and omit “unpopular” comments? After all, shouldn’t all opinions be aired, as even the Orthodox community is hardly homogeneous. Please let me know. Thank you.

    Moderators Response: Any comment starting off with “Shame on these rabbomim” will be deleted before being read.

  7. What about groups at the parade that are mechalel shabbos, or people involved that have stolen money? Why are they immune from protest.

    Toievah is an issur just as much as one who is mechalel shabbos or steals.

    Why are “rabbanim” so vocal about toievah, and give a pass to those who don’t keep shabbos or steal money?????

    How manys Shuls, Yeshiva buildings, English translated Seforim, are plastered with names of people who are convicted thieves and openly not shower shabbos?????

    Just some food for thought…..

  8. for those who are unfamiliar, there is a so called orthodox group marching under the name “JQY”. They are “orthodox” gays. if you want to know who they are, see their website. they are only using the parade to advance their agenda of legitimizing homooexuality within the orthodox community. if you don’t believe me, please see their pictures and banners from last years’ parade. google jqy and have a look !!

  9. It should be noted the rabbis said:

    “…or someone who feels committed to the event…”

    Meaning they are saying really there are many reasons not to attend even if the toeivaniks weren’t there. But if you’re going to go anyways, at least do this much.

  10. With all due respect…Torah true Yidden can make it abundantly clear that they do not approve of toeva etc without resorting to “banning the parade”. Most people, pro or con, understand that all religions consider toeva an abomination. However, using this as a reason to forbid attendance is hypocritical. There are plenty of other more pressing issues that dont seem to elicit such strong condemnation.

    Whether we agree or not with everything going on in Israel, it is still important to show a unified front to the outside world. This is not the forum to “air our dirty laundry”.

    Lastly, with the draft issue (Chareidim) in the news, any overt lack of public support by the “right wing” will not help garner any sympathy for what is being debated in Israel.

  11. simchy123 #7:

    Because the Mechallel Shabbos’nik don’t gather as a group of Mechallel Shabbos’niks and demand recognition and support and acceptance of their being Mechallel Shabbos and then march under a banner proclaiming “Mechell Shabbos’niks and proud if it.”

    If they did that our response to them would be the same as our response to the toivaniks.

  12. Simchy,

    It’s because Yidden (Jews) have an obligation to represent morality in this world. Sure, there are lots of sins – and we are bidden not to connect ourselves with evildoers – but association with these is just off limits.

    Scary part is that HaShem wrote explicitly in His Torah: כי את כל אלה עשו ואקץ בם. ולא תקיא הארץ אתכם, for these very sins Eretz Yisroel “vomits” us out..

  13. the non frum and non jews who march do so to support Israel. The JQY march to promote being gay and “orthodox”. their signs last year said “we are in every yeshiva”. “jewish ?, orthodox ?, gay ?” what does that have to do with supporting the Medina ???

  14. This parade has never been an Orthodox event; there has never a prohibition against the participation of non-Orthodox organizations and indeed the list of participants includes many such groups. I predict that this “ban” will be very widely ignored.

  15. Simchy, in case you didn’t figure it out yet, here’s the reason (note sarcasm).
    Nobody who steals or is mechallel shabbos, goes around and says, “Here is an acceptable lifestyle for all. I understand that it goes against your values, but I need to put it in your face anyway.” Only some people feel a need to do it, and us people with morals feel a need to decry it.

  16. Baruch Hashem! Thank you to all the Rabbonim who immediately got involved. My Rebbe, Rav Sheinkopf Shlita (from back in the Boston Yeshiva/Darkei Noam, days)has always stood up for Kvod Shomayim!

    This is also a very clear message to:

    A] Prime Minister Lapid (Netanyahu has apparently gone AWOL) that we protest his statements regarding SSM in the State of Israel!

    B] To the candidates running for Mayor of NY (the largest Orthodox Jewish population in the world), that we DO care for Kvod Shomayim! We WILL fight to keep kedusha in our neighborhoods! We showed Kvod Shomayim with the Bob Turner & David Storobin victories and we will BE”H do it again with a Erick Salgado victory! MEE LASHEM ELAIY?

  17. simchy123 – your food for thought left me hungry. The reason the Rabbonim are so vocal about toieva and not chilul shabbos or stealing money is because no stream of orthodoxy claims that it is mutar to be mechalel shabbos and steal. Ma shein kein toeiva. The protest is not about issurim being done (if it was “hazman yichlel vheim lo yichlu”) it is about the corruption of the term “orthodox”.

  18. #7 IN AGREEMENT..
    “We could not let this group march under a banner of Orthodoxy without a response that this is not Orthodoxy, is it contrary to the Torah”….who says they are marching under the veil of Orthodoxy?

    Why did you wake up now, 48 hours before the parade? If this was important to protest, then why not earlier not later. Schools worked on their posters, songs, ordered T shirts (even 3/4 length) and many have arranged transportation. To protest during a parade is fodder into the hands of the Neutrai Karta who will be there with their Arab supporters.

  19. But the big kosher supervision agency eagerly grabbed the hashgocho of a restaurant operated by openly gay people! And they only asked for the name to be changed, not the publicly displayed lifestyle. As far as I know the owners are people who keep kosher in the kitchen, even if not in the bedroom. And isn’t one of the signatories of this letter the senior halachic advisor to that agency?

  20. zionflag: IF zionism now stands for arresting yidden for learning too much Torah, and mandating acceptance of “toeiva” (not to mention massive numbers of a abortions of healthy Jewish babies, or the sorts of tourism in Tel Aviv we can’t discuss in proper company, etc.) — perhaps you should reconsider your infatuation with Herzl and Ben Gurion, and go back to Avraham Aveinu and Moshe Rabeinu.
    It’s not a few bad apples – the concept of zionism is what leads to the rotten orchard.

  21. Another IMHO,,,,none of the Rabbanim signing this BAN ever did attend or participate in the Parade!!! It would have much more value if Rabbanim who are involved**** as spectators, marchers or participants signed a BAN.

    ****BTW there are many who do attend.

  22. This article is an incoherent bundle of gibberish. The first paragraph of the letter by Mr. Friedlander is an abomination to the English language and to coherent writing in any language. And if the first paragraph is not readable, the balance of the article is unlikely to make any sense. If the author of this article wants to get his message out – no matter what it is – YWN should put him in touch with someone whose first language is English. I would do it for nothing.

  23. Whereas I was the person who began the process of protesting the inclusion of Jewish Queer Youth in the parade, I am going to post the full text of the letter I have sent out regarding this matter. I do not support having a protest at the parade, but I do hope what I wrote here will be helpful.
    This letter was circulated to many rabbanim in yeshivos and was published in a slightly altered version in the Flatbush Jewish Journal.

    An Open Letter Regarding the Celebrate Israel Parade

    By Avi Goldstein

    I write the following with a very heavy heart. I am a life-long Zionist. I believe that the State of Israel is part of the process of redemption. Along with many readers, I cry when misfortune befalls the Jewish State, and I rejoice when hearing good tidings. Indeed, these words are being written the day before Yom HaAtzmaut, when I will join untold numbers of Jews in joyously reciting Hallel. Yet I find myself in the uncomfortable but necessary position of calling upon fellow supporters of Israel to refrain from attending the upcoming Celebrate Israel Parade.
    For almost nine months, I have been involved in trying to resolve a critical matter regarding the parade (formerly the Salute to Israel Parade). This annual event is a centerpiece of support for Israel in New York. One television station covers the parade from start to finish. The parade is a moment for supporters of Israel to put their best foot forward, to showcase the broad support that Israel enjoys.
    Last year, however, a radical change took place that compromised the moral integrity of the parade. Jewish Queer Youth, a group of mostly Orthodox gay men and women, was permitted to march under its own banner. This alone would have been bad enough, but the group used its platform to glorify homosexuality and to declare that homosexual conduct is normal. One particularly offensive banner stated: “We are in every yeshiva.”
    Upon hearing this, I contacted the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which administers the parade. I expressed my concern that the parade was endorsing behavior that the Torah describes as an “abomination.” I noted that it would be no different if a group called “Shabbat Violators for Israel” or “Adulterers for Israel” were allowed to march. My plea, to a JCRC staff member, fell on deaf ears (a later email to JCRC head Michael Miller has gone unanswered as well).
    The JCRC staffer insisted that the parade lineup had been circulated ahead of time to the participating organizations; had they wanted to protest, they would have done so ex ante. Yet perusing that lineup, which was available on the JCRC website, it took three attempts for me to find Jewish Queer Youth, because it was listed simply by the initials JQY! Yes, its participation was disclosed, but not in a manner discernible to the other groups. Moreover, JQY was shunted to the back of the parade to minimize the chance that others would notice its participation. Indeed, my wife left the parade route a bit before the end of the march, and we found out about JQY’s attendance only because a friend who stayed later called us, disturbed at what she saw.
    Over the course of several months, I spent considerable time contacting dozens of principals and rabbeim at yeshivos that march in the parade. I expressed my belief that it is unacceptable for Orthodox groups to march in the same parade as a group that glorifies immorality. With a few exceptions, those to whom I spoke were sympathetic to my concerns. However, I could not find someone who would step up and, as I desired, author a letter to the JCRC that would declare unequivocally that yeshivos would not march in the 2013 parade unless Jewish Queer Youth were excluded.
    Nonetheless, some progress was made, and several weeks ago, JCRC was called to a meeting of leading Jewish educators. I did not attend the meeting, but someone who was present has told me that with the exception of one school, the others were willing to tolerate JQY’s participation in future parades.
    I found this news jarring, but I was not entirely surprised. Approximately two decades ago, a synagogue that caters to a mostly gay and lesbian clientele attempted to march with provocative language on its banner. At the time, the yeshivos objected and threatened to boycott the parade. The parade organizers backed down, and the synagogue was forced to march under a banner that simply stated its name.
    Why, then, was I not surprised that today no one would step up? What has changed since the earlier confrontation was successfully resolved? The answer is that in the ensuing two decades, an unrelenting campaign by gay activists has caused even those within our own camp to question whether homosexual conduct is immoral. It is said that a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth. This is precisely what has happened regarding homosexuality. We have been so worn down by the pro-gay campaign that we have begun to question our own stance; uncompromising opposition has given way to moral ambivalence.
    Why, however, should we care whether gays openly march alongside us? In truth, there are many devastating ramifications. Readers may not know, but the stated goal of gay activists is to make homosexuality “normal” in law and in practice. Here are some of their goals:
    1. Redefinition of marriage. Already implemented in New York, gay activists want full recognition of same-sex unions in all spheres of public life. For example, we can expect that advertising posters, publicly displayed for us and our children to see, will feature gay couples. We can expect the same in television, print, and online ads. If you don’t believe this, consider that one tv show, Modern Family, portrays a gay family as entirely normal. I have not seen the show, but I have read that this family is treated as just another nuclear unit; no mention is made of its different construction.
    2. Gay activists seek to equate their cause with the cause for black civil rights. In the not too distant future, it may become a hate crime to publicly speak against homosexuality. In case readers are unclear, let me rephrase this: If a rabbi, speaking about Jewish law, states that homosexual conduct is an abomination, he may be subject to a lawsuit or even to arrest!
    3. Home sellers and renters will not be allowed to exclude gay couples from buying or renting. You will advertise your second floor for rent. A gay couple will show up and you will not be allowed to refuse to rent to them based on their sexual preference. Your children will be exposed to this unnatural coupling and you will be unable to do anything about it.
    4. Gays have long been on a campaign to teach children that their lifestyle is just one of many “normal” choices. This is being taught in schools to children at the youngest ages. And while parochial schools are not forced to teach this, we should be concerned that public school youths are exposed to this blatant immorality. And let us not forget that many Orthodox boys and girls attend public schools.
    One of the big lies espoused by gay activists is that separation of church and state precludes the government from taking a moral stand against homosexuality. The implication is stunning. If one believes that the law cannot indicate a preference for heterosexuality, one is saying that almost every legislator who has served since the founding of our country until approximately five years ago is a racist. He or she, by refusing to endorse same-sex marriage, is as guilty of discrimination as were anti-civil rights legislators. Bill Clinton as President was no better in this regard than, say, segregation firebrand Stephen A. Douglas.
    Separation of church and state prohibits the government from incorporating a specific religion in law. It does not prohibit the state from taking moral positions. The state takes moral positions on many matters and ensconces those positions in law. For example, it is illegal to kill. The law prohibits murder not only because society could not function if murder were legal, but because the Judeo-Christian heritage looks upon murder as morally repugnant. This is readily seen in the fact that when a murder is particularly egregious, judges will denounce the defendant in very strong terms and impose an even greater sentence than might otherwise be incurred.
    As our law has evolved, the law and the courts generally have avoided taking positions on matters that do not have consensus among mainline religious groups. For example, there is no religious consensus on abortion. The Catholic view, for one, is much more restrictive than the Jewish view. But when it comes to homosexuality, our shared religious tradition has been unequivocal in viewing it as an abomination, as stated in the Torah. It is perfectly reasonable for law to reflect this unambiguous view. And while no one is suggesting that the government peek into people’s private lives, the law must not endorse this immoral conduct.
    Does it make a difference whether a behavior is simply tolerated or whether it is given the law’s stamp of approval? The Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 26:5) teaches that the fate of the Generation of the Flood was sealed when it became legal for men to contract marriages with each other! The behavior was going on, tolerated by G-d, until it was given the imprimatur of law.
    My friends, do we risk becoming another flood generation, G-d forbid?
    The damage is even greater when we consider our beloved State of Israel. The Torah states that homosexual behavior can lead to the spitting out of Israel’s inhabitants (VaYikra 18:22-28). If we participate in a parade that endorses homosexuality, how are we contributing to Israel’s welfare? The Celebrate Israel Parade, by including Jewish Queer Youth, transforms from an event that benefits Israel to one that harms it. Dear readers, are you willing to be a party to such an event?
    Well-meaning disputants have countered that Orthodox groups do march alongside Conservative and Reform groups, notwithstanding their endorsement of non-halachic practices. This is true, but it is beside the point. Conservative and Reform temples and organizations do not state openly on their parade banners that they reject Jewish law. Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt’l, was quoted frequently to the effect that we can and must cooperate with heterodox groups on matters of communal import. The Rav wrote that all Jews share a “covenant of fate,” that our destiny is inextricably intertwined. However, it is unimaginable that he would have consented to walk in tandem with a group whose whole raison d’etre is to flout halachah.
    I had hoped to carry on this campaign to a successful conclusion without having to take my case public. However, the refusal of schools and organizations to challenge the Jewish Community Relations Council has left me no choice. If the Orthodox public takes a stand, collectively or individually, we may succeed in changing the composition of the parade. If we stand by and do nothing, we in effect are stating that the Torah’s moral code carries no weight.
    The Celebrate Israel Parade is scheduled for Sunday, June 2nd. There is still time for those of you who agree with my message to protest to your yeshivos, day schools, and organizations that the current composition of the parade is unacceptable, and that if JQY marches, you will not march or attend.
    I have set up an email address to handle communications regarding this cause. It is [email protected]. I welcome suggestions on how to bring this matter to a successful conclusion. I welcome messages of support as well; if you are willing to stay away from the parade, please tell me. With the blessing of G-d, we will succeed.

  24. I’m glad to see that R’ Belsky is such a campaigner against toieva, not to mention that he cares so deeply about our children:

    Rabbi Belsky was present, although not as a Dayan, during testimony before a Bais Din panel in 1985 against Lipa Brenner, and heard the horrific testimony of numerous witnesses. Yet he chose to protect his friend Brenner and actively cover up the abuse of children in our community.

    When a devastated parent came crying to him several years later and informed Rabbi Belsky that his son was being molested by Brenner, Rabbi Belsky informed the parent in no uncertain terms that the boy was lying and that Brenner was innocent.

    After the parent was advised by friends to ignore Rabbi Belsky and to go to the police, a sting operation successfully caught Lipa Brenner. Lipa Brenner was charged with 14 counts of sodomy, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. The sexual contact was alleged to have been committed over a three-year period until October 1995 (over 10 years after Rabbi Belsky protected this pedophile from prosecution in 1985.)

    Brenner agreed to plead guilty to one count of sodomy in the third degree, a Class E felony, in exchange for a sentence of five years’ probation. Lipa Brenner is now a registered sex offender.

    Had Rabbi Belsky prevailed, Brenner would still be destroying children’s lives to this very day. Had Belsky not interfered in 1985, numerous children would have been spared a fate worse than death.

  25. Thank you Avi for an outstanding letter.
    We have to put more pressure on the Parade sponsors to rid the parade of this group which is out to advertise itself as kosher and yosher.

  26. They would have marched virtually unnoticed – now they have received the PR they probably wanted, Orthodox Judaism will be shown as being reactionary & unloving & Israel’s enemies will exploit this across Social media – so well done Torah Judaism & Israel is again the loser.

  27. ‘Nobody who steals or is mechallel shabbos, goes around and says, “Here is an acceptable lifestyle for all.’

    To the contrary, the Reform movement, which has supported this parade for years, endorses being mechallel Shabat.

  28. ‘it would be no different if a group called “Shabbat Violators for Israel” or “Adulterers for Israel” were allowed to march.’

    Avi is 100% wrong here. Reform synagogues that openly promote forbidden marriages (including women who don’t have a proper get) and encourage Shabat violations have been marching for years without a whimper of opposition from the Orthodox community. Opposing this parade now because of the gay issue is picking and choosing halachah. You have to either refuse to participate in ANY even that has non-orthodox participation, or shut up.

  29. Wrong, Charlie. If Reform groups carried banners that said, “Intermarrieds for Israel,” your objection would be valid. (For that matter, if an Orthodox group carried such a banner, you would be correct.) But that is not what they do; they simply state the name of their organization and that they support Israel. The name of a Reform group is not in itself offensive. JQY by definition is endorsing sin, and we should not march if they also march.
    I have no problem with LGBT’s marching; I have a problem with them marching under a banner that proudly (pun intended) proclaims what they are.