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Temple Isaiah Opposes Boy Scouts' Gay Policy

Lafayette synagogue calls for letter-writing campaign by members to create awareness of the damage from discriminatory policies.

Temple Isaiah of Lafayette has taken a stand.

The temple's Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday night to express its opposition to the Boy Scouts of America's decision to disqualify participants because of sexual orientation. The board called for a letter-writing campaign by temple members.

A Temple Isaiah press release cited rejection of "a superb candidate for Eagle Scout in our neighborhood" (Ryan Andresen of Moraga).

"Though we cannot change the Scouts’ national policy, we can work hard within and outside Temple Isaiah’s walls to create an awareness of the damaging consequences of such policies on all our youth and on our communities,” said Rabbi Roberto Graetz of Temple Isaiah. “Ten years ago, the Reform [Jewish] movement, through its governing bodies and constituencies, issued a strong recommendation favoring full inclusion of gay Scouts and troop leaders, in contradiction of the BSA policy forbidding their participation."

Dive Turn Work January 18, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Write the letters. Great gesture. I doubt the national folks will give a hoot. I really don't understand the fuss. It's a social club. Nothing more. Nothing less. Being a member of the Boy Scouts is no more important than being on the football team, in the band, or on the chess team and it says nothing more about the person's character than does being a member of those organizations. Case in point... "A member of the Boy Scouts as a child, (Manti) Te’o earned Eagle Scout status after years of determination and effort."
lisa January 18, 2013 at 06:58 PM
"Prejudice not being founded on reason, cannot be removed by argument" --Samuel Johnson
Edward G January 18, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Clearly written by someone who has little real knowledge of the Boy Scouts. Good for you, you found an example of a dishonest Eagle Scout -- for every one you find, I can find a thousand to the contrary. The program is all about developing character, and is more successful at it than any other organization in history. The vast majority of people correctly identify Eagle Scouts as exceptional people - the award gets recognized all the time through college and job acceptances, scholarships, etc. It does mean something, which is why it is wrong to deny the award to scouts who do all the work (and it is not easy, trust me) but who acknowledge being gay. The BSA (national) last year reaffirmed it's membership policy largely as a result of a letter writing campaign by anti-gay constituents. The proper way to counter is indeed with a letter writing campaign, and I applaud Temple Isaiah for it's call to action.
c5 January 18, 2013 at 07:20 PM
i am a member of the temple and also disagree with the bsa on this topic, but for the life of me i can't understand why the temple is getting involved with this topic. the bsa is a private organization that can set their own rules. we don't like their rules so we didn't really encourage our son to join. i can't wait to hear what the temple's position is on drugs in sports.....
Dive Turn Work January 18, 2013 at 07:24 PM
Edward G - It's a club. Nothing more. Nothing less. If people stopped ascribing so much importance to it, then this controversy would disappear as they would understand that joining the BSA carries the same significance as being on the football team or in the chess club. It's really much ado about nothing.
Valerie Sloven January 18, 2013 at 08:02 PM
Thank you Rabbi Graetz for your leadership.
Clintonista80 January 19, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Dive Turn Work, Boy Scouts doesn't need people to ascribe importance to itself. It happens to be the premier character development organization for boys. Your ongoing and frequent ridicule of the Scouts is misplaced and plain wrong. Teach a merit badge or volunteer to help a local troop before judging the scouts (or equating them to a chess club).
Dive Turn Work January 19, 2013 at 01:20 AM
Clintonista80 - It's a social club. Pure and simple, like any other club.
lisa January 19, 2013 at 01:50 AM
No Dive...it's a boy's club for little boys. Until the Mormon Church took over (after they started allowing blacks into their church) it was only that. You obviously don't have any personal experience with homosexuals but how exactly does a 5 yr old know when to quit scouting? Children that join at this age (and most do) have no idea what homosexuality is. So you think they should just up and quit at some point (when they've worked so hard, set personal goals, and have been good citizens, for over a decade) because they've come to the conclusion that they are indeed gay? Such an uneducated and small minded mentality you have!
Dive Turn Work January 19, 2013 at 04:05 AM
Lisa - It's a private organization. It can set its own rules. I agree that it's terribly sad that a kid who's been in it since 1st grade has to quit. But, life is often sad and unfair. Besides, in reality, that child has a choice. The BSA aren't really concerned about honesty. (Of course, they'll tell you that they are. But, they're not.) When push comes to shove, it's concerned that you regurgitate its standard lines. So, if a child really wants to remain & become an Eagle scout, then lie and pretend to be heterosexual. It's not like they hook these kids up to polygraph machines & demand that they answer questions about their sexuality. Plenty of kids lie about their sexual orientation all the time. I advise kids to lie to their parents about their sexual identity if they're financially dependent on them and there's a chance the parents will reject them. Soldiers had to lie for decades. Life is about trade-offs. Play the game. Get your Eagle badge. Then bust down the closet door. But, if you don't want to follow that order then your options will be limited. The BSA has made it quite clear that it has no plans to change its membership rules. It will never change. Why people continue to beat their heads against a wall on this matter is completely mystifying. Either accept what you can't change & play the game or quit the group. I've not yet met one Eagle scout who was hunted down by BSA executives when they came out AFTER getting the badge.
Marti Roach January 19, 2013 at 06:07 PM
Ditto Valerie. Thank you Rabbi and Temple Isaiah.
Justine January 19, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Thank you Rabbi Graetz and the Board.
MYRNA lARSEN January 20, 2013 at 02:01 AM
Maybe they believed Martin Luther King when he said "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
karen January 20, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Thank you Rabbi Graetz for showing so much compassion to my son, and others. We always taught Ryan to be honest, and it took a lot of courage for hin to be true to himself. Many people do not understand the pain and suffering that these teens experience. The self harm, shame, and suicide(#1 cause of death in this population). If they can't be honest about who they are, feelings of shame take over. I want to send the message that there is nothing wrong with you and everyone of us is a gift from God. Discrimination is never OK and I thank you Rabbi from the bottom of my heart, for making a difference in the lives of so many. Karen Andresen
Evan B January 22, 2013 at 05:40 AM
It's rather ironic that a board of Directors for a synagogue (in Lafayette of all places) supports Ryan; considering both Talmudic teaching, as well as the Torah both explicitly outline homosexual behavior as deviant and destructive to the community. Rabbi Shmuel Boteach and Rabbi Menachem Schneerson both agree. Sounds to me like this synagogue just wanted a bit of airtime by jumping on the hot button du jour. Good job.
Jose January 22, 2013 at 07:29 AM
I, too, am a parent, and I feel your pain. I, too, am the parent of a child who is "different", who is a minority, who is gay, and I feel your pain. When is it time to stop trying to be accepted by a homophobic, mainstream organization which has credentials, and when is it time to cast it aside for what it is...a reprehensible ideology! They have rejected Ryan, your fine son, again and again, based upon their "principles". It is time to cast THEM aside and expose THEM for what they are. The Hitler Youth were taught camping and survival skills and SERVICE, but to what end? If the ideology is bankrupt, cast it aside, and start over. These organizations teach conformity as much as anything. They don't allow free thinking. Allegiance to God!? Whose god? It is a narrow-minded, bigoted organization from the start. Yes, it does good, and yes it does harm. And, Woe unto you who do not recognize that when they speak of sinners, they speak of you who are "not of us". That is my advice as a parent, but I understand the difficulty of parenting (I am crappy at it), so I support whatever you do for your son!
Penelope January 22, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Totally agree with all of those that have said way too much time has been devoted to this story line.
Ann W. January 28, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Well Penelope if you think too much time is spent on it then stop reading it and posting a comment. Our family has been involved in scouting for many years. There is much good about it but our family like MANY in scouting do not believe in discrimination. Thankfully we can only hope the good fight has been fought with the recent news that BSA is likely to lift the ban! So Penelope if there is something...anything you believed in that was ever wrong in life I hope for you to have the courage to fight for what's right and in this case it is equality for all in an organization for kids for goshsakes.

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