“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” the controversial Clinton-era policy of not allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military, is nearing its end, at least according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. The administration, he said, is committed to changing the policy and the only question is how the repeal of will DADT come about — through legislation in Congress or by a court ruling.
But wait a second. What does the Jewish community have to say about this? Are Jews for asking, telling or what?
As the old joke goes – two Jews, three opinions — here too there are three points of view, all depending on whom you ask.
The website JewishValuesOnline, which tries to tackle current concerns via the ancient tradition of asking a rabbi, presented three rabbis with the question: What is the Jewish view on “don’t ask, don’t tell?”
The answer? Well, there is more than one.
For Orthodox rabbi Barry Freundel, DADT is just fine and there is no need for change. He believes it fits well with the Orthodox tradition of accepting gays and lesbians in synagogues “as long as they do not publicly advocate for or display” their sexual orientation. Freundel wrote a paper on the issue in the mid-80’s which later was used, he said, by the joint chiefs of staff when they came up with DADT.
When Conservative rabbi Jason Miller was asked, he provided a different answer – DADT was good for its time, but now it is time to change. Just as the Conservative movement held a policy of not ordaining gay rabbis and then overturned it in 2006, the military should also recognize changing values and repeal the policy.
For Reform rabbi Bonnie Margulis, the whole question is a no-brainer. The Reform movement was against DADT when it was enacted and still believes it needs to be repealed: The sooner the better.
Bottom line: Don’t expect Jewish halacha to sort out the DADT mess.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.