Were you Always Religious?

Question: Were you always religious?

Surprisingly, some people have assumed that both characters in the documentary The Therapy were born into religious families. The Zilbermans are a famous clan of religious Jews who live in the Old City of Jerusalem, so as far as I understand, Ben was born into a religious family and decided to become less religious.

My family was significantly less observant than Ben’s family, But I think we were more observant than many of the families around us. We kept kosher compared to our friends and neighbors (e.g., no shellfish, no pork, no milk and meat), and we were heavily involved with the local “conservative” synagogue (my father had every position on the board from when we moved to Long Island in 1967 until he eventually became president in 1982. I went to Hebrew school until I was 16, and then continued after that tutoring students and working in the main office). But my family and I were definitely not Orthodox.

My Judaism was always a significant part of my life. Even when I was “living a gay lifestyle”, I was very much involved with Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST) in New York City, known as the “Gay Synagogue”. During my final year in the USA, I was even on the CBST Board of Trustees.

I became religious over a very long period of time. My first trip to Israel in 1980 had a very significant impact on me, and I slowly became stricter with the rules of keeping kosher. I finally took a big leap when I left everything at the end of 1992, moved to Israel, enrolled in the Ohr Somayach Yeshiva, and changed my life completely.

So, in a sense, The Therapy shows two men who swapped places: One was not particularly religious and “gay” and he became religious and “not gay”. The other did the reverse.

Some pictures of Lev S.

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