Living “Out” Within the Orthodox Community
This article originally appeared on JOFA’s blog, “The Torch.” It is reprinted here with permission.
I grew up 100 percent Camp Ramah and United Synagogue Youth (both Conservative movement institutions), but after marrying a Modern Orthodox man, my husband and I decided to raise our family Camp Stone, Bnei Akiva and NCSY (all Orthodox). We belong to a Modern Orthodox synagogue, and my kids went to a Modern Orthodox day school.
I have loved raising my family within this community. Carpools. Camp. Shabbat meals. Cookouts. Parks. Travel. Friends who would watch my kids if I was in a bind or just needed a break. I had my village.
While some of the rigidity that comes along with community goes against my personal beliefs, I decided to simply set that aside in favor of all the beauty in Orthodox Judaism. I am constantly grateful for the halakhic boundaries that have made parenting easier. When my kids were little, they would throw a tantrum at the grocery store over a “must-have.” But if it wasn’t kosher, there was no tantrum. We would fight over too much TV, but for twenty-five hours every Shabbat there was no TV. Family dinners during the week were aspirational, but every Shabbat we ate together.
In my mind, the beauty exceeded the feminist issues that stumped me. Kol Isha, the prohibition on men hearing women sing. Mechitza, the barrier separating men and women during worship services. The marriage ceremony. And so on.
Until my son told us that he was gay…
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Susan Borison, a former attorney, transferred the adversarial skills acquired as a lawyer to her next job, mother of five. During her years as CEO of her household, Sue was on the executive board of Fuchs Mizrachi School and Green Road Synagogue. She also spent time on the boards of Federation and JCC. Today, she is on the board of AJC, serving on several Federation and JCC committees. She is currently the founder and co-owner of Your Teen Media. Susan is a Wexner Heritage alum (Cleveland 05) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.