Rabbis across Efrat signed a petition criticizing Mayor Oded Revivi and his staff for creating an in-depth survey about various issues faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
An official municipality Facebook page published a link to a survey earlier this week, asking participants 20 questions regarding their views and experiences regarding the LGBT community, both from inside and out.
Even though Efrat was established as a non-religious community, most of its residents are Modern Orthodox.
Titled “A survey mapping needs for all residents regarding the LGBT population in Efrat,” the poll created lively discussions across the town, informally known as the capital of Gush Etzion.
The survey asked questions about respondents’ personal views and experiences in Efrat regarding the LGBT community, as well as the personal question: “Are you yourself a member of the LGBT community?”
The survey asked if the person answering would consider volunteering to assist individuals within the community who are suffering because of their sexual orientation.
“Members of the LGBT population live in Efrat and are an integral part of the council’s social fabric,” the survey’s premise stated. “As part of the process of identifying needs and understanding positions, we would be very happy if you agree to spend a few minutes answering the questionnaire in front of you, residents of the council. The results of the survey will be the basis for building a work plan regarding the LGBT population in the Efrat Local Council.”
Fifteen Rabbis subsequently signed a petition against the promotion of what they see as views that should not be discussed in public.
“We read the survey in shock and astonishment – the survey published in Efrat – which seeks to promote public legitimacy for offenses for which shouldn’t be discussed outwardly,” the rabbis wrote. “The Holy Torah illuminates our lives, and it directs us to modesty in these matters, and to the family life of a man and a woman, among whom dwells the Shechinah [the presence of God]. The call of the Western world to encourage different types of relationships… harms the family institution in Israel, harms the presence of God among us, and does not help people who face these challenges.”
At the same time, the rabbis wrote that LGBT people in Efrat “will be received with love and will be listened to. We’ll meet with them with great desire, strengthen them and help them as needed.”
The 15 rabbis are mainly those who head communities and synagogues across the municipality. One of the rabbis, Eitan Weiss, is a senior secretary in the local rabbinate of Efrat.
As mayor of Efrat, Revivi is considered to be a leader in promoting awareness of and a safe environment for LGBT residents in the town.
“While there are those who choose to condemn members of the [LGBT] community and those who choose to ignore them in silence, we in the Efrat Local Council have chosen to act responsibly, to have an open dialogue – to give them and their families tools so that they will continue to feel loved,” he wrote in an op-ed in Haaretz.
Revivi was mentioned in 2020 by N12 as being one of the top Israelis promoting “equal opportunities” for LGBT Israelis.
This content was originally published here.