Contact: Mordechai Levovitz LMSW
For Immediate Release: 4/15/2015
Top Orthodox Rabbis & Therapists will Meet to Discuss Sexuality
“Groundbreaking” Mental Health Conference on the Treatment of LGBT Jews in the Orthodox and Hasidic World
New York, NY: In the wake of the White House’s public position calling for the end of “conversion therapy” for LGBT minors, leading Orthodox Rabbis and therapists will come together for a collaborative conference on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Orthodox and Hasidic world. The goal of the event is to develop a religiously sensitive but clinically responsible framework for offering better care to LGBT Jews in this community. The organizers hope to provide counseling alternatives to “conversion therapy” that would still be in line with Orthodox Jewish Values. The conference is being organized by The William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology, Lincoln Square Synagogue and JQY (a non profit dedicated to providing crisis and support resources for at-risk LGBT youth in the Orthodox & Hasidic community).
For the first time, mainstream Orthodox leaders from religious establishments like the RCA (Rabbinical Council Of America, the largest Orthodox Rabbinic group in America) will publicly engage with mental health experts in the field on issues like conversion therapy, coming out of the closet, and transgender identity. The Keynote speakers will be RCA Honorary President Rabbi Shmuel Goldin and RCA Executive Vice President Rabbi Mark Dratch. They will joined by a roster of renowned mental health professionals including Dr Jack Drescher, a member of the DSM-5 Subgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity, Dr Mark Blechner, Editor in Chief Emeritus of the journal Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and Dr Alison Feit, Executive Director of The Jewish Center for Trauma and Recovery.
Dr Drescher calls this conference “groundbreaking and an essential step in caring for a particularly vulnerable population.” Gay and Lesbian youth from highly rejecting families are more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide according to the Family Acceptance Project. Research has found that family and communal rejection of LGBT youth are significantly higher in the Orthodox Jewish community (Safran, 2012). “Something had to be done,” says Mordechai Levovitz, Conference Co-chair and Director of JQY, “in NYC studies show that 73% of Jewish Children are Orthodox; this means that in a couple of years the vast majority of LGBT Jewish youth in NYC will come from Orthodox homes and be at risk. We need to start educating Orthodox support resources now to respond to this impending need.”
Sean Herzfeld, a 15-year-old JQY member who recently came out in his Orthodox high school, points out that “It’s not enough to simply tell LGBT teens in religious communities that It Gets Better later, we have to work within the community to make it better now...and that’s what JQY and this conference do.”
Desire, Faith & Psychotherapy: A Mental Health Conference on Sexuality in the Orthodox Community, will take place on Sunday, April 19th at the Kraft Center, 606 West 115th st NYC
A limited number of tickets are still available at: www.Universe.com/
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