Letter from the Hilled Prez

by Russell Sitrit-leibovich

To my fellow Dawson students,
This article is in response to the accusations leveled against me personally and the Hillel organization by Mr. Morgan Berson.
In the February 25 article ‘Hillel Prez Hates on Homosexuals’, Mr. Berson accused me of hating gays. The article makes wild claims that I have crossed the line into hate speech and accuses me of a number of things, including inventing or using the term ‘Jew Caf’.

What is the basis for Mr. Berson’s accusations of homophobia, one might ask? The answer, according to him, is a link on myFacebook page.
It is essential to give some background in regards to the article that I linked to on Facebook. Recently, Yeshiva University, a religious Jewish institution, held an extremely controversial panel entitled “Being Gay in the Orthodox World.” This panel was one that was widely discussed and criticized within the religious Jewish world. After speaking about this panel with a classmate, I read an article, which addressed it. The article argued that this panel might have the effect of a change Jewish religious law and standards, something that would be contrary to the beliefs and practices of traditional Judaism. Many people who opposed the panel believed and continue to believe that it will lead to breaches in Jewish religious law.

The YU panel was a very controversial topic within the religious Jewish world. Since universities and CEGEPs are meant to be a place of intellectual stimulation, I thought that it would be a good idea to promote a discussion of this issue by posting this article. I did not write the article, neither do I necessarily agree with everything written in it. While it may represent an unpopular opinion, it is most certainly not hateful.
Hillel is, and remains to be a pluralistic club that reflects the wider Jewish community. Its members are from a wide spectrum of Jewish practice and belief, including religious and non-religious, traditional and unaffiliated, straight and gay. We offer a place where all Jews are welcome, regardless of commitment or affiliation. The opinion expressed in this article is simply one of the many that can be found within the Jewish community. Our community is one that comprises many diverse opinions and beliefs and our leadership and members reflect that fact.
It is a shame that some people are quick to accuse others of bigotry, thereby cheapening the true meaning of homophobia. Labeling a discussion of Jewish law as homophobic is simply ridiculous. I hope Mr. Berson will be more careful with his accusations next time.

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