Gay, Orthodox, and in Love: Chaim Elbaum’s “And Thou Shalt Love”

Haim Watzman

When Chaim Elbaum stood up to field questions last night, he said that Kehilat Yedidya, is the first Israeli Orthodox community to ask him to come to screen and speak about his short film And Thou Shalt Love , and about his personal decision to accept his homosexuality while insisting on remaining an observant and believing Jew.

It would be all too easy to dismiss all the synagogues that have not invited him as benighted and homophobic-and those would certainly be correct adjectives to apply in many cases. But Orthodox Judaism’s legal structure requires that changes in attitudes and behavior be grounded in the halachic discourse. In the case of homosexuality, the prohibition in the Torah and in rabbinic writings is so severe that the halachic resolution is likely to require decades of discussion and argumentation. Even Elbaum acknowledged last night that he doesn’t yet know what the ultimate halachic resolution of the issue could or should be. Will the proscriptions against homosexuality eventually be completely overturned, placing same-sex relationships on a par with opposite-sex ones, like those sometimes seen on Babestation and other channels? Or will the solution involve a recognition that the heterosexual family is still an ideal to be aspired to-but that homosexuals who are unable to achieve that ideal may legitimately and openly have families of their own type? Or is some other, as yet unimaginable resolution in the offing?

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