Former Executive Vice President, Matthews & Wright
- Background information
- Scandal Yields Windfall for an Impoverished City (02/04/1991)
- National Anti Gay Leader is a convicted felon, con man (02/15/2010)
- 'Gay cure' therapists, 'cured' student sue California over new law
- Gay men sue counselors who promised to make them straight (11/27/2012)
- Gay Men, Moms Sue NJ Jewish Gay Conversion Therapists (11/27/2012)
- Jersey City, NJ - Gay Conversion Therapy Group Targeting Orthodox Community Being Sued (11/27/2012)
- Gay ‘Conversion Therapy’ Faces Test in Courts (11/27/2012)
- Rep. Speier introduces resolution condemning ‘conversion’ therapy (11/28/2012)
- Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) denounces reparative therapy (11/29/2012)
- Conversion therapist: Lawsuit won't stop us (11/29/2012)
- Arthur Goldberg Compares his Ex-Gay Therapy Business to Weight Watchers (11/30/2012)
- Battle Over 'Gay Therapy' Taken to Court (11/30/2012)
- A more modern view of homosexuality (12/05/2012)
- Jewish Group Accused of ‘Ex Gay’ Lies (12/05/2012)
- Bill Would Block Attempts to Change Children's Sexual Orientation (12/12/2012)
- JONAH Exploits Lonely Old Gay Man In New Propaganda Video Will Orthodox Throw JONAH Overboard? (12/15/2012)
- SPLC lawsuit against reparative therapy group 'the height of intolerance': Lawyer (12/20/2012)
Ben Unger and Chaim Levin grew up in Orthodox Jewish homes in Brooklyn. They lived in traditional, socially conservative homes and tried to live up to the expectations of their faith and families.
They were gay, however, and were told they had to choose between being gay and Jewish - as if this were truly possible.
Scandal Yields Windfall for an Impoverished City
|Arthur Abba Goldberg|
|Alleged Sex Offender - Arthur Abba Goldberg of JONAH|
National Anti Gay Leader is a convicted felon, con man
South Florida Gay News (SFGN) - February 15, 2011
A joint investigation by the organization Truth Wins Out and the SouthFloridaGayNews.com has revealed that the spokesperson for a New Jersey based national religious group seeking to ‘cure’ homosexuals is a convicted felon who has been hiding his past.
The leader of JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, Arthur Abba Goldberg, is now also serving as President of his Jersey City temple. He was sent to federal prison 20 years ago for a conspiracy to defraud the United States of America.
Additionally, Goldberg is presently the Executive Secretary of NARTH- the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. The group hopes to heal “unwanted homosexuality” through “therapeutic care.”
One more group he supervises is PATH- Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality- a coalition of religious, ministerial, and ex-gay groups promoting “non-gay alternatives to homosexual lifestyles.” He is their President.
Goldberg, who reinvented himself in 2000 as the founder of JONAH, was found guilty in 1989 of numerous felonies in multiple jurisdictions. The charges ranged from federal mail and wire fraud to conspiracy counts as a result of a bogus bond writing scheme.
Goldberg was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment in the Central District of California, which he served concurrently with a an Illinois sentence imposed at the same time. It was followed by five years of supervised probation and a $100,000 fine, eventually paid on November 24, 1999.
K. William O’Connor, the U.S. attorney who put him away, said at his sentencing that Goldberg was “a man who habitually took advantage of people who were economically dependent upon him; that he did not hesitate to lie or cheat or cover up to achieve his criminal aim. His greed has cause incalculable harm...”
Goldberg’s arrest and conviction rocked Wall Street when it went down two decades ago. A purported whiz kid and investment guru, he had been often referred to on the Street as “Abba Dabba Do” and “Abba Cadabra.”
Those names and that past were all secreted when Goldberg founded JONAH after getting out of prison. Abandoning the conspicuously identifiable middle name of ‘Abba’, Goldberg authored a book for Red Heifer Press under the name of ‘Arthur Goldberg.’
Titled “Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change,” Goldberg re-created himself as an author and spiritual leader, purporting to help individuals struggling with their sexual identity, telling gays “you can change.” He certainly did.
“We have long considered Arthur Goldberg a con-artist, but our investigation shows he is also an ex-con,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out.
“His diabolical past mirrors his dishonest present-day work with JONAH. Whether it was shady deals on Wall Street or shading the truth on gay issues, Goldberg is someone who lacks credibility and can’t be trusted,” said Besen.
“The Torah is the Book of Truth,” Besen concluded, “and Goldberg has now delivered us a book of lies.”
Born in 1940, Arthur Abba Goldberg identified himself his entire life by using all three of his names, at least until he got out of prison and started JONAH.
The TWO and SFGN investigation into his past revealed that when he authored articles for the American University Eagle in 1961 as an undergraduate, his byline was ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg.’
When he received his bachelor’s degree from American University in 1962 and his law degree in 1965 from Cornell University, the diplomas were given to ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg.’
When he authored land use articles for the Urban Law Journal in the early 1970’s as a young lawyer it was under the name of ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg.’
It was also under the name ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg’ that he was admitted to the New Jersey and Connecticut Bar Associations, and it was under that name he served as the executive vice president directing Matthews & Wright, Inc., a New York underwriting firm, in which he was a major stockholder.
It was in the capacity as shareholder and vice president that Goldberg orchestrated a scheme of selling $2 billion in fraudulent municipal bonds for communities ranging from the impoverished city of East St. Louis to Chester, Pennsylvania, to the West Pacific U.S. territory of Guam.
The stories of his criminal acts were methodically detailed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, a paper based near the Chester community scammed severely by the fraud.
It was under the name of ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg’ that a United States grand jury on Guam indicted him in late 1987 on 52 counts of bribery, fraud, and conspiracy.
On September 26, 1989, ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg’ pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to three counts of mail fraud. He was sentenced to 18 months as part of a plea bargain.
The trial had actually been moved to California because so many residents of Guam had been financially harmed by the bogus investment scheme it was thought a fair trial in that venue was impossible.
Goldberg and others also indicted at Matthews & Wright had knowingly conspired together to enter into a fraudulent scheme to sell fake bond issues but take commissions on them anyway. They arranged to bribe officials, deceive investors, and issue bogus checks to non existent parties.
In exchange for underwriting $300 million in bogus deals, Goldberg and his investment firm, Matthews & Wright, received a fee of $10.5 million. They created the impression these bonds would be used to help construct desperately needed single family housing in Guam and elsewhere.
Separately, Goldberg also pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States in another falsified bond-writing scheme. In that matter, Goldberg participated in a conspiracy to ensure that the bonds were deemed prematurely to take advantage of a favorable tax law relating to transactions.
The 900 page presentence report prepared by prosecutors prior to his sentencing was scathing. It indicated that Goldberg’s conduct was “knowingly and willfully dishonest and fraudulent.”
K. William O’Connor described Goldberg as having engineered “a conspiratorial fraud of spectacular scope,” which purposefully duped “unsophisticated Pacific Islanders.” One witness against Goldberg said he treated the citizens of Guam as if “they were cannibals.”
O’Connor said that Goldberg’s deceitfulness crippled Guam’s economy, crushed investors, undermined public confidence in the bond industry, and cost the U.S. Treasury millions in lost taxes.
U.S. District Judge Jesse W. Curtis, Jr. then sentenced ‘Arthur Abba Goldberg’ to 18 months in prison, allowing both the Illinois and California sentences to run together. He imposed fines and restitution totaling $400,000, an amount later reduced by an appellate court.
In a separate civil proceeding, the Disciplinary Review Board of the New Jersey State Bar Association recommended taking away his law license. They found “Goldberg’s criminal convictions clearly and convincingly demonstrated his participation in activities that reflected adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, and fitness as a lawyer.”
The New Jersey Supreme Court then disbarred Goldberg on November 9, 1995, citing his criminal convictions and his “reckless indifference to a conspiracy of considerable magnitude.”
New Jersey’s highest court even noted that “We are aware of respondent’s active involvement in community service and his efforts to resettle numerous immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.” But, they concluded, “Goldberg’s conscious participation in the illegal activities leading to his criminal convictions outweighs these mitigating factors.”
In his capacity as the Director of JONAH, Goldberg formed and serves as a director of a tax exempt 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, whose website promises that it is “offering hope, compassion, direction and vitally needed information to gay strugglers, their families, friends, and surrounding community.” He formed the group using the name Arthur Goldberg, sans Abba, one month after getting his federal supervision of five years’ probation concluded.
In a 2001 interview not long after he began his religious crusade, Goldberg told the Herald News in Paterson, New Jersey, that homosexuality is the result of “psychological trauma.’ And that “six months to three years of weekly therapy and prayer can cure it.” He did not say anything about whether 18 months in a federal prison might also help.
Today, on the NARTH website, despite his conviction and disbarment, Goldberg proudly holds himself out as a ‘doctor of jurisprudence,’ displaying the title of ‘J.D.’ adjacent to his listing.
NARTH is one of the country’s most vocal critics of the American Psychological Association’s position paper concluding that homosexuality is normal, not aberrational. NARTH advocates the doctrine that homosexuality is a ‘developmental disorder’ and a ‘treatable condition.’
The ‘Jewish State’ is a central New Jersey newsweekly that Goldberg gave an interview to in 2007. He identified himself as a former deputy attorney general and Connecticut law professor, telling the reporter that “gays have been led astray in terms of your authenticity to yourself.” Meanwhile, he failed to disclose his criminal past.
“People are not born gay; there’s no such thing as a gay gene,” he added, complimenting that remark with the statement all gays “can readapt” from “their gender deficiency.” He then said homosexual children should be treated the same way as “if a child was addicted to drugs or alcohol.”
Goldberg is presently living conspicuously as the President of Congregation Mount Sinai in Jersey City. The temple offers itself out as a “welcoming environment for all people to express, deepen and rediscover their Jewish heritage.”
Last year, as a guest in the audience at the end of a Montel Williams show discussing ex-gays, he shouted from the audience at the host, interrupting the show, to say gays needed help. You can see it on You Tube.
“I’ve always been one to try to help the underdog,” he said.
But that is not what Judge Curtis concluded at Goldberg’s sentencing on September 26, 1989.
“I find,” the court stated, “that, Arthur Abba Goldberg, you have openly conspired against the United States by knowingly and recklessly engaging indifferently in a series of dishonest acts of considerable magnitude.”
JONAH’s website brags that it teaches that ‘homosexual strugglers can journey away from homosexuality with psychological and spiritual help, peer support, and personal empowerment.’
In 2007, JONAH established a separate division, The Jonah Institute for Gender Affirmation, to provide research and clinical strategies for “growth out of homosexuality.”
Maybe Arthur Abba Goldberg should have started a peer group for “growth out of felonies.” His days of failing to own up to his are over.
Gay men sue counselors who promised to make them straight
By Alan Duke
CNN - November 27, 2012
- Therapy put gay teens at risk of "depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior," suit says
- JONAH center claims to help people "struggling with unwanted same-sex sexual attractions"
- Lawsuit contends therapists made false promises to turn gay teens straight
- Lawyer: "This is the first time that plaintiffs have sought to hold conversion therapists liable"
(CNN) -- Before Sheldon Bruck told his orthodox Jewish parents he was gay, the teenager looked for a way out of homosexuality.
Gay Men, Moms Sue NJ Jewish Gay Conversion Therapists
By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES
ABC News - Nov. 27, 2012
|Chaim Levin, one of the men filing a law suit|
The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court of New Jersey Hudson County, alleges that methods used by the Jersey City-based Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (JONAH) do not work and constitute fraud under the state's consumer protection laws.
Arthur Goldberg, JONAH's co-director, and Alan Downing, a "life coach" who provides therapy sessions, were also named in the suit.
The plaintiffs include Michael Ferguson, Benjamin Unger, Sheldon Bruck and Chaim Levin, all of whom used the services of JONAH when they were in their teens or young 20s.
Two of the men's mothers, Jo Bruck and Bella Levin, who paid for therapy sessions that could cost up to $10,000 a year, were also plaintiffs.
One of the plaintiffs alleges that therapy sessions that involved a virtual "strip tease" in front of an older male counselor, as well as reliving abuse and homophobia were "humiliating."
They are seeking declaratory, injunctive and an undisclosed amount of monetary relief, as well as court costs, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs have received legal help from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which claims in the lawsuit that conversion therapy is a dangerous practice that has been "discredited or highly criticized" by every major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional organization.
Three of the young plaintiffs are from an ultra orthodox Jewish background; Ferguson came from a Mormon background and met Downing at a "Journey Into Manhood" retreat, according to the lawsuit.
JONAH appears to cater to orthodox Jews, but its methods "do not have a strong religious aspect," according to SPLC lawyer Sam Wolfe.
The lawsuit alleges that some of the methods used included: telling boys to beat a pillow, the "effigy of the client's mother," with a tennis racket; encouraging "cuddling" between younger clients and older male counselors; and even instructing attendees to remove their clothing and hold their penis in front of Downing.
"It's definitely cruel and unusual and doesn't work," said Wolfe. "They are peddling bogus techniques that have no foundation in science and are basically ridiculous and even harmful."
Wolfe paraphrased JONAH's message as: "All you have to do is put in the work to overcome your sexual attractions. If you follow our program your true orientation emerges and will turn you into a straight person."
"Often if what the conversion therapist tells them doesn't work, it's their fault," Wolfe added.
In 2008, when the plaintiffs were seeking help from JONAH, the cost of an individual therapy session was $100 and for a group session, $60. JONAH also "strongly pushed" attending weekend retreats that could cost as much as $700, said Wolfe.
Arthur Goldberg said he "knows nothing about the lawsuit," which was filed this morning, and referred ABCNews.com to JONAH's website.
"We have a lot of people who were a success and were healed," he said of JONAH's 14 years in service. "Hundreds of the clients we serve are satisfied ... Our therapy is very conventional."
When asked about the group's practices, he said, "I can't tell you about the methodology." Goldberg admitted he had "no background specifically in counseling."
"I am the administrator," he said. "I used to teach family law."
When asked about instructing boys to take off their clothes, he said, "I know nothing about that."
Goldberg also said he had "no idea" how to reach Downing because he was an "independent contractor."
According to JONAH's mission statement on its website, the nonprofit group is "dedicated to educating the world-wide Jewish community about the social, cultural and emotional factors which lead to same-sex attractions."
"Through psychological and spiritual counseling, peer support, and self-empowerment, JONAH seeks to reunify families, to heal the wounds surrounding homosexuality, and to provide hope," the statement reads.
JONAH's Goldberg, who runs the business side of the nonprofit, says on the website that "change from homosexual to heterosexual is possible … homosexuality is a learned behavior which can be unlearned, and that healing is a lifelong process."
According to the lawsuit, JONAH cites the "scientific" work of Joseph Nicolosi, one of the primary proponents of conversion therapy and Richard A. Cohen, who was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association in 2002 for "multiple ethical violations."
Nicolosi's methodology is based on the belief that a weak father-son relationship and a dominating mother contribute to homosexuality. He advocates "rough and tumble games," as well as father-son showers, according to the lawsuit.
Cohen uses a technique called "bioenergetics" that includes having male patients beat a pillow, which represents their mother, as a way of stopping same-sex attraction, according to the lawsuit.
Conversion therapists also cite child abuse and bullying as a "primary cause" of homosexuality, according to the lawsuit.
Jersey City, NJ - Gay Conversion Therapy Group Targeting Orthodox Community Being Sued
Associated Press - November 27, 2012
Vos Iz Neias Blog
Jersey City, NJ - Four gay men accused a New Jersey organization of fraud Tuesday for selling “conversion therapy” with false promises to make them straight.
They said during a Manhattan news conference that they were subjected to humiliations that included stripping naked and taking a baseball bat to effigies of their mothers.
The four attended sessions at the Jersey City, N.J.-based Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing, or JONAH. The nonprofit advertises in Jewish publications and claims to rid men of same-sex attractions.
Three of the men are Jewish — Chaim Levin, Benjamin Unger, and Sheldon Bruck. The fourth, Michael Ferguson, is a Mormon now living in Salt Lake City who was a college student in New York when he signed up for the services.
The men say in a lawsuit that the methods do not work and should not be marketed under New Jersey’s consumer protection laws. They say the suit was filed Tuesday in New Jersey, but officials there could not confirm receiving it.
The men say in the suit that JONAH’s practices included telling them “that gay sexual orientation is a mental disorder and gay people must change to straight in order to lead satisfying and happy lives” and “that when conversion therapy does not produce the promised results, the clients themselves are to blame for not sufficiently investing in and surrendering to Defendants’ services.”
JONAH did not return calls requesting comment.
The group’s mission statement on its website says JONAH is “dedicated to educating the world-wide Jewish community about the social, cultural and emotional factors which lead to same-sex attractions.”
Its claim that being gay is a mental disorder that can be reversed has been rejected by the American Psychiatric Association.
Speaking for the men at Tuesday’s news conference were attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery, Ala.-based civil rights organization.
“JONAH profits off of shameful and dangerous attempts to fix something that isn’t broken,” said Christine P. Sun, the center’s deputy legal director. “Despite the consensus of mainstream professional organizations that conversion therapy doesn’t work, this racket continues to scam vulnerable gay men and lesbians out of thousands of dollars and inflicts significant harm on them.”
California has taken action against providers of conversion therapy.
Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that prohibits licensed mental health professionals from using so-called reparative or conversion therapies with clients under age 18. Brown called the therapies “quackery” that “have no basis in science or medicine.”
Two New Jersey lawmakers are drafting similar legislation.
Gay 'Conversion Therapy' Faces Test in Courts By ERIK ECKHOLM
Rep. Speier introduces resolution condemning ‘conversion’ therapy
By Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Washington Blade -November 28, 2012
|Sheldon Bruck, who is gay, said he is a survivor of conversion therapy. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)|
“It is the sense of Congress that sexual orientation and gender identity or expression change efforts directed at minors are discredited and ineffective, have no legitimate therapeutic purpose, and are dangerous and harmful,” the resolution states.
“Congress encourages each state to take steps to protect minors from efforts that promote or promise to change sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, based on the premise that homosexuality or transgender identity is a mental illness or developmental disorder that can or should be cured,” the resolution states.
Speier introduced her non-binding resolution one day after the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit in New Jersey on behalf of four gay men and two parents against a New Jersey based counseling group that performs conversion therapy. The lawsuit charges Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) with committing consumer fraud by falsely claiming the gay men could change their sexual orientation from gay to straight.
“Let’s get this straight,” Speier said at Capitol Hill news conference called to announce the introduction of her resolution. “Being gay, lesbian, transgender is not a disease that can be cured or a mental health issue that can be treated. Sadly, not everyone gets this,” she said.
“A quick Internet search will bring up some 80 practitioners and groups that promise to help individuals to become heterosexual,” she told the news conference. “Gay conversion has become a multimillion dollar industry.”
Speier said she and her staff were investigating whether some of these practitioners and organizations, most of whom are unlicensed, were being paid to perform conversion therapy on patients who pay them through federal programs such as Medicaid or TRICARE, a federal medical program that assists military veterans.
“In my cursory investigation, I have found two additional instances of so-called mental health professionals that advertise these services and appear to be eligible for federal dollars,” she said. “This morning, I sent letters of inquiry to Medicaid and TRICARE to determine if these instances reflect systemic weaknesses that allow federal taxpayer dollars to go to harmful, illegitimate medical services.”
Also speaking at the news conference were Sheldon Bruck and Jerry Spencer, who described themselves as gay men and survivors of conversion therapy. Bruck and his mother are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed on t heir behalf by the Southern Poverty Law Center against the New Jersey based JONAH group.
Spencer, 23, said his conservative Catholic parents pressured him into undergoing conversion therapy when he was 14 and the therapy lasted more than five years before he chose to end it.
“It was all a scam,” he said. But before he came to that realization, the therapy resulted in “deep emotional scars” both for him and his family.
“I’m telling my story to help others,” he said. “This industry preys on gay people and their families.”
Speier’s office said Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) signed on as co-sponsors for the resolution. Speier said she couldn’t immediately determine which House committee would be assigned to consider the resolution. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is gay, has said he doesn’t expect the Republican-controlled House will pass any LGBT supportive bills or resolutions over the next two years.
Representatives of the Human Rights Campaign, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights also spoke at the news conference.
Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) denounces reparative therapy
Rabbinical Council of America - November 29, 2012
By Alan Duke
CNN - November 29, 2012
WATCH VIDEO: CLICK HERE
(CNN) -- The conversion therapy center being sued by gay men who paid the counselors to make them straight vowed it would continue to "assist those with unwanted same-sex attractions."
Arthur Goldberg Compares his Ex-Gay Therapy Business to Weight Watchers
Goldberg defended his company by saying: "If I went to Weight Watchers and wanted to lose 60 pounds, but didn't lose the weight at Weight Watchers, does that mean someone should be suing Weight Watchers?"
Battle Over 'Gay Therapy' Taken to Court - California, New Jersey judges review 'conversion therapy'
By Seth Cline
US NEWS - November 30, 2012
A more modern view of homosexuality
By Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky
Jewish Journal - December 5, 2012
The American Modern Orthodox community has just entered uncharted territory. Last week, our largest rabbinic organization, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) formally withdrew its support of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality). JONAH has long been the Orthodox community’s address for reparative therapy, a process that is intended to cure people of their homosexual attractions and to replace these with heterosexual ones. The recently announced lawsuits against JONAH brought by four of its former clients, accusing JONAH of both fraud and abusive practices, was apparently the last straw for the RCA.
Strictly speaking, the RCA’s statement rejects only JONAH. It, in fact, goes on to say, “We believe that properly trained mental health professionals who abide by the values and ethics of their professions can and do make a difference in the lives of their patients and clients [and that these professionals] should be able to work on whatever issues [their] clients voluntarily bring to their session.” This is, of course, indisputably correct. But the statement’s acknowledgement of “the lack of scientifically rigorous studies that support the effectiveness of therapies to change sexual orientation” represents a paradigm shift. It is a rejection of the very premise that JONAH and all reparative therapy is built on, namely that sexual orientation is subject to change, and that any client who works hard enough at it can become heterosexual. This may not strike many readers as being a revelation at all. But through this RCA statement, the Modern Orthodox community has formally crossed into a brave, new world.
Any discussion about what the practical implications of this might be needs to be grounded in an understanding — even an appreciation — of the context out of which it emerged. Any of us who grew up in Orthodox institutions in the 1980s or earlier knows firsthand that homosexuality, and, in particular, male homosexuality, was spoken of with disgust and revulsion, and that homosexual slurs were de rigueur. (In our own defense of course, the larger social landscape wasn’t much different.) And even as the campaigns for gay rights and recognition played out over the ensuing decades, Orthodoxy remained largely unmoved and unchanged. There was only one serious grappling with the issue during this period, and that was the essay written by Rabbi Norman Lamm in 1974 which, while utilizing language that is offensive in today’s context, took the unprecedented step of distinguishing between the “sin” and the “sinner,” asserting that while “the act itself remains an abomination, the fact of illness lays upon us the obligation of pastoral compassion, psychological understanding, and social sympathy.”
Though Rabbi Lamm’s words undoubtedly, and with good cause, arouse anger, pain and resentment in many contemporary readers, understanding why he used them is crucial to understanding the true significance and implications of last week’s developments. The “illness” paradigm for explaining homosexuality (which was, indeed, the American Psychological Association’s paradigm as well until 1973, just one year prior) was Rabbi Lamm’s — and Orthodoxy’s — legal and theological lynchpin. Legal in that it provided access to the legal category of “transgression as a result of compulsion,” a category that elicits a more generous judgment. Theological in that it provided a response to the conundrum that God, who is all-knowing, just and kind, could not possibly prohibit that which cannot humanly be resisted. As long as homosexuality was an illness, a person’s failure to resist its temptations need not be ascribed to a Divine failure, but to an unfortunate human one. Needless to say, the “illness” paradigm also led inexorably to the obligation to seek therapeutic intervention. And while the most modern end of the Orthodox spectrum began to eschew reparative therapy some years ago — see, for example, the July 2010 “Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews With a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community” (http://statementofprinciplesnya.blogspot.com/) — the balance continued to insist upon it. (See, for example, the 2011 “Declaration on the Torah Approach to Homosexuality” — www.torahdec.org.)
The statement of the RCA however, quietly, boldly and courageously breaks new ground. In recognizing that there is no evidence that reparative therapy is effective, and that there is, consequently, no obligation to pursue it, our community is acknowledging that homosexuality may very well be simply part of the human condition. Accordingly, we have decided that homosexuals should not any longer have to pay the psychological, emotional and even physical price for our theological comfort. We have effectively designated our theological question as a teyku, one whose answer still needs to be determined. But one that will, meanwhile, not prevent us from seeing the human truths in front of our eyes.
It is not realistic to expect that Orthodoxy will some day recognize homosexual relationships as being equal to heterosexual ones, or to authorize gay marriage, or even to drop the idea that gay sex is a transgression of biblical law. Orthodoxy’s foundational beliefs concerning the Divinity of Torah and the authority of halachah (received Jewish law) preclude such developments. In other words, if the Torah declares a particular action prohibited, it’s not within our authority to say otherwise. But we can regard homosexual acts as we do other forms of nonobservance, as we do, for example, the nonobservance of kashrut, both in the sense that it doesn’t carry the charge of immorality and also in the sense that it doesn’t harm our ability to have a normal familial relationship with someone. The shift from Rabbi Lamm’s “sympathy” to the RCA’s recognition of the reality of sexual orientation can and should bring us to a place in which we can accept our friends and children and siblings for who they are, grant them the dignity and respect that any person deserves, and love them as our own.
Within our community, it’s a brave, new and better world.
JONAH Exploits Lonely Old Gay Man In New Propaganda Video
Youtube - September 21, 2012
Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH) is run by convicted felon Arthur Abba Goldberg and Elaine Berk. Both have out gay sons, yet they run a Jewish organization to heal people of their gayness? They don't sound like very credible witnesses to change.
In this sad video, you will witness how these con artists exploit a pathetic, lonely, old gay man who has no friends. Of course he doesn't have friends -- because he spent his entire life in the closet having anonymous sex at parks. Had he come out and felt proud of his sexual orientation, he wouldn't be in the sad predicament that he is in.
Is this poster boy the best that JONAH could come up with?
As usual, JONAH traffics in stereotypes, misinformation and outright lies. There is no evidence of a bad childhood or gay kids cowering at home as children. Godlberg and Berk are simply making things up or quoting quacks with no credibility. Nothing they say is backed by any credible medical or mental health organization.
When Berk speaks of the "gay genome" she displays appalling ignorance and twists science to fit her propaganda model. In fact, every credible scientist will tell you that homosexuality is genetically and biologically influenced.
In Part II, the "ex-gay" is sent to the gym by his therapist. This is rich because this is what Gollberg had to say about gay men and the gym:
"By the way, did you notice that a lot of gays who remain in the gay lifestyle also do a lot of body building," said Goldberg. "They will be in the gym a lot trying to build up their pecs...Because they have these body image issues and don't feel they are masculine enough."
So in his propaganda video he sends the guy to the gym? These people lie so much they can't remember what they said the day before. And how about how incredibly stupid they made the heterosexual body builders sound? It was a cartoon of masculinity!
JONAH and reparative therapy is a total joke. This is why it should be banned for minors across the nation. Creeps like Berk and Goldberg pretending to be experts on an issue they know virtually nothing about. This is just Goldberg's latest con and it shows by this amateurish video that confuses stereotypes with science.
Jewish Group Accused of ‘Ex Gay’ Lies
By Norm Kent
South Florida Gay News - December 5, 2012
Last week, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a group that offers conversion therapy to gays, was sued for fraud in New Jersey state court. JONAH’s operator and founder Arthur Goldberg first came to national attention in February of 2010 when the South Florida Gay News and Truth Wins Out did a joint investigative report exposing him as a convicted felon and disbarred attorney who had pled guilty to federal and wire mail fraud charges in a phony bond scheme.
While Goldberg protested those past deeds were irrelevant to his current business, SFGN showed the lengths he went to conceal his corrupt acts. The Associated Press reported this week on the present lawsuits by three plaintiffs who allege that JONAH has been using discredited conversion therapy tactics to “cure homosexuals.” They are asking that JONAH’s business license be revoked for violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, seeking cash damages as well.
"This is the first time that plaintiffs have sought to hold conversion therapists liable in a court of law," said Samuel Wolfe, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center, talking to CNN.
Three male plaintiffs contend they were defrauded by JONAH's claim that "being gay is a mental disorder" that could be reversed by conversion therapy -- "a position rejected by the American Psychiatric Association four decades ago," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also alleges that the methods do not work and shouldn’t be marketed. JONAH’s Arthur Goldberg replied that the suit is “meritless”, arguing that it chills his first amendment rights to freedom of speech. Meanwhile, the pleadings in the litigation accuse JONAH of utilizing shocking techniques to reach their goal of conversion therapy.
Specifically, the participants in the program were required to strip nude during sessions, intimately hold other males, and spend more time with other nude males in health clubs and bathhouses, "in order to be nude with father figures." One of the JONAH ‘life coaches’ also named in the suit, Alan Downing, was also accused of encouraging the plaintiff to lie naked and touch their penis and buttocks.
The reparative therapy methods used by many of these clinics are so offensive and discredited that earlier this year California passed a law banning them for clients under age 18. Governor Jerry Brown went as far as to call the procedures “quackery.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are still about 70 conversion therapists practicing in 20 states.
JONAH’s leader, Arthur Goldberg, is 72. He did 18 months in federal prison, starting in 1989, for his fraud conviction. Revealed in the SFGN expose, the pre-trial report submitted to the court for sentencing purposes accused him of “conspiratorial fraud of spectacular scope,” alleging he was “knowingly and willfully dishonest.” Meanwhile, he stands by his philosophy that all gays “can readapt from their gender deficiencies” with reparative therapy.
The SFGN expose of JONAH was covered in the national press and can be accessed on our website at http://bit.ly/cm7CfA
Bill Would Block Attempts to Change Children's Sexual Orientation
By Andrew Kitchenman
NJ Spotlight - December 12, 2012
Should psychological counselors in New Jersey be allowed to attempt to change the sexual orientation of children?
A bill banning the practice is scheduled for a hearing with the state Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on December 17. The issue has already sparked national debate, with socially conservative professional groups parting ways with larger national organizations.
The bill () is sponsored by Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem) and Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union).
The New Jersey Psychological Association supports the measure. Executive Director Josephine Minardo said a consensus has formed against the approach.
“All of the major national psychological, psychiatric, and counseling associations -- including our national organization, the American Psychological Association -- have found that this kind of therapy is actually very harmful,” in addition to being ineffective, Minardo said.
This puts the association in the unique position of supporting a bill restricting the therapy that some of its members provide.
“We have just cautioned that we have concerns about legislating specific types of treatment and we don’t want to it to set a precedent,” Minardo said.
The bill prohibits counselors from attempting to change children’s sexual orientation, including efforts to change “behaviors or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender.”
Opponents of the measure include the Jersey City-based Jews Offering New Alternative for Healing, or JONAH.
JONAH founder Arthur Goldberg said legislators don’t understand “both sides of the equation. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of people who have successfully changed” their sexual orientation through therapy, he said.
He also noted that the American College of Pediatricians, a socially conservative organization, supports the therapy.
Goldberg said he hopes that the public becomes better informed about the issue.
“In a free democracy, freedom of speech is a healthy thing,” Goldberg said. “Let’s have a full and fair dialogue.”
Goldberg also noted that U.S. District Court Judge William Schubb ruled that a similar law in California infringes on the free-speech rights of counselors, temporarily blocking it.
Taking JONAH to Court
A legal case in New Jersey is also targeting the practice.
In November, Goldberg and JONAH were sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The maintains that the organization is committing consumer fraud by offering sexual orientation “reparative” therapy.
The suit quotes a warning by the American Psychiatric Association that the “potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with society prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”
Sweeney said he decided to become a sponsor of the bill because attempts to change sexual orientation are fundamentally wrong.
“You’re being told that something is wrong with you -- that’s not right,” Sweeney said. “If you love your children, you have to accept your child for who he or she is.”
Sweeney said counselors who believe they can change people’s sexual orientation have an outdated view. He expressed concern that parents would try to force this therapy on their children.
“Kids are under enormous peer pressure to start with and being a kid and being homosexual, it’s a lot of stress in the school environment to start with and the one place you look for support is your family,” Sweeney said.
Goldberg rejected the argument that homosexuality isn’t an appropriate subject for treatment, despite psychologists arguing for decades that it isn’t a disorder.
“Is it appropriate to treat people who are overweight” or who have other conditions that aren’t mental disorders? Goldberg asked.
Mat Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, a national legal organization opposed to laws prohibiting the practice, said the bill would interfere with both freedom of speech and the counselor-patient relationship. His organization provides legal representation to the American Association of Christian Counselors.
“There is evidence of efficacy,” Staver said, adding: “It is the parent who has the ability to consult their children and make the decision in conjunction with their children” whether to pursue counseling.
Lesniak said he was prompted to support the measure based on the scientific evidence he had read.
“I know that professional organizations have already taken positions that this type of treatment has no basis in science and that it has proved to be harmful in cases,” Lesniak said. “The combination of those two in concert prompted me to ban it for minors. If adults want to make that choice, go through treatment that has no scientific basis -- that happens all the time -- but minors don’t have that choice and the best course is to protect them from a treatment that does not have any efficacy.”
The Assembly version of the bill has been referred to the Assembly Women and Children Committee.
Will Orthodox Throw JONAH Overboard?
By Helen Chernikoff
Jewish Week - December 12, 2012
When Mordechai Levovitz learned that a civil rights organization had announced a lawsuit against a Jewish counseling center in New Jersey that claims to “cure” homosexuality, he felt mainly rage. This was despite the fact that he is co-director of an organization, JQY, that tries to be a haven for Jews who say they are traumatized by the kind of treatment the counseling center offers.
The rabbis who promote this so-called reparative therapy are as guilty as the center itself for ruining the lives of religious gay people, and even driving some to suicide, he said. But they won’t be brought to justice in this lifetime, he added.
“It is not the Torah that makes people suicidal, for there are many commandments that Jews struggle with,” said Levovitz, who was raised and still identifies as Orthodox. “It is the shame created by the community. Rabbis … who reinforce this shame make life unbearable. The blood is on their hands.”
The lawsuit, filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on Nov. 27, shines a spotlight on an Orthodox world caught in the grip of a painful conflict. After the suit was announced, the centrist Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America further distanced itself from JONAH, the counseling center. A traditional journal characterized homosexuality as an abomination. All the while, the individuals whose lives are the subject of such intense debate are trying to figure out how to be gay and Jewish in ways that feel true to them.
The 2001 film “Trembling Before G-d,” which followed gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews and interviewed rabbis and therapists, spurred the Orthodox world to begin grappling more openly with homosexuality, still viewed in the most traditional communities as a perversion. The years since have seen a series of statements and forums, including one at Yeshiva University in 2009 that focused on the importance of empathy. Levovitz co-founded JQY about a decade ago.
Nearly a third of the New York metropolitan’s area’s 1.5 million Jews are Orthodox, according to the population survey released in June by UJA-Federation of New York.
The lawsuit charges JONAH, formerly known as Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, with fraud for claiming to convert people from gay to straight. It calls for both JONAH’s closing and monetary compensation of an as-yet unspecified amount that would include triple the amounts the plaintiffs paid to JONAH, the cost of therapy undergone as a result of the experience with JONAH and other items for the four plaintiffs.
Three of the plaintiffs — Chaim Levin, 23; Benjamin Unger, 25; and Sheldon Bruck, 20 — are members of JQY. The fourth, Michael Ferguson, 30, comes from a Mormon background, said Sam Wolfe, a Southern Poverty Law Center lawyer involved with the case. Jo Bruck and Bella Levin, Sheldon and Chaim’s mothers, are also plaintiffs.
JONAH will be defended by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, a nonprofit law firm that provides defense services to clients whose religious liberty and free speech rights have been compromised, according to a statement from the fund. The SPLC lawsuit seeks to violate the First Amendment freedoms of speech, religion and association, said Charles LiMandri, the fund’s president, in the statement. JONAH, the statement says, has helped clients resolve unwanted same-sex attractions.
The suit describes individual sessions, which cost a minimum of $100, and group sessions, which cost $60, in which Jonah’s clients were instructed to undress; sometimes the counselor was naked as well. Clients were also urged to blame their parents for making them gay and to beat effigies of their mothers.
The Southern Poverty Law Center first reached out to JQY members to ask for their help with a campaign to raise public awareness about and discredit reparative therapy. Later, the organization asked them to serve as plaintiffs on the related lawsuit, said Levin. His “It Gets Better” Internet video about being raised religious and coming out as gay brought him to the center’s attention.
Levin, who grew up in the Chabad community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, sought help at JONAH after he was thrown out of his yeshiva at age 17 for being gay. He complied when his therapist, referred by JONAH, asked him to touch himself during the therapy, and then quit.
After spending two years trying to become straight, Levin needed three years — and more therapy — to undo the harm that effort inflicted on his psyche, he said. He came out about three years ago and is now one of the Orthodox LGBT world’s most visible spokesmen.
The day after the lawsuit was announced, the rabbis who produce Dialogue, an Orthodox journal, released an article condemning homosexuality as a biblical abomination through public websites, like weebly.com, and the e-mail listserv of the AJOP, or Association for Jewish Outreach Programs.
“Engaged in an act that is entirely Self-directed, the homosexual is, in effect, having relations with his own image,” wrote Rabbi Aharon Feldman, the head of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, in his article. “He has taken an act that God intended to be one that is creative and engenders bonding, and has, instead, created a parodic mirror image of it that is maximally selfish and self-fulfilling.”
Rabbi Feldman could not be reached for comment on the timing of his piece’s publication, and his co-editor Rabbi Moses Meiselman, the head of Toras Moshe in Jerusalem, said in an e-mail that the “entire project was managed by Rabbi Feldman.”
“The edition of Dialogue was many months in planning and coincided with ongoing events in general and nothing in particular,” he wrote.
However, two days after the lawsuit was announced, the Rabbinical Council of America, a professional association of more than 1,000 Orthodox rabbis, issued a statement repudiating JONAH.
The RCA had already tried to retract a 2004 letter featured on JONAH’s website suggesting rabbis refer their congregants to it, said Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, the RCA’s president. People who had been hurt by their experiences with JONAH reached out to the RCA, which in turn consulted with experts and came to question whether JONAH met its standards for trained mental therapists who abide by the values and ethics of their profession.
“The Torah is very clear that this lifestyle is outside the purview of normative Judaism,” Rabbi Goldin said. “We urge individuals to connect with the Jewish community and connect with rabbis and deal with those issues the best they can. We are against any kind of personal prejudice or acts of violence, God forbid, against any person.”
Orthodox attitudes toward homosexuality are changing in subtle ways, said Miryam Kabakov, co-director of Eshel, the group founded in 2010 that tries to help gay people stay “frum [observant], happy and healthy.”
These shifts, she said, are mostly in attitude and in private interactions between individuals, because a public statement could result in communal censure or pressure.
Still, views like those of Rabbi Feldman’s are making “Aron,” a New York-area man in his 30s who was raised “black-hat” Orthodox, question the fundamentals of Orthodoxy.
He underwent the “typical shidduch process,” going on arranged dates with a view toward marriage and then divorcing after he told his wife that he was gay. Today, he is still Orthodox. He has not told any of the traditional communities he has ties to that he is gay.
Despite his growing frustration with the Orthodox world’s position on homosexuality, it still doesn’t make sense for him to try to create a new place for himself altogether, either.
“It doesn’t make sense because of millenia of halachic norms, and communal norms,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense because I haven’t let go of the idea that the Torah is divine in origin. I may be angry, but it’s hard to turn your back on [that world], especially as a pretty well-educated Jew.”
SPLC lawsuit against reparative therapy group 'the height of intolerance': Lawyer
By Thaddeus Baklinski
Life Site News - December 20, 2012
NEW JERSEY, December 20, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - Charles LiMandri, the president and chief counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) has announced that he has accepted the role of lead defense counsel for Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) in a precedent-setting lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The SPLC filed a lawsuit against JONAH, alleging the group is guilty of “consumer fraud,” because the therapy will fail to change some people’s sexual orientation.
In taking on the case, Charles LiMandri stated, “The SPLC lawsuit is ill-conceived and legally untenable for multiple reasons. It seeks to violate the First Amendment freedoms of speech, religion. and association—not only of JONAH and the other defendants, but also untold numbers of people in need that stand to benefit from their services.”
“It is the height of intolerance and arrogance for the SPLC to dictate to individuals who experience unwanted same sex attraction and who are seeking help, that they are not entitled to receive such help nor support in a way that respects their personal values,” LiMandri stated. “JONAH and the other defendants will be vigorously defended against these baseless claims to protect not only their Constitutional rights, but also the right of self-determination of all those who wish to resolve their unwanted same sex attractions.”
LiMandri pointed out that since its founding more than 12 years ago, JONAH has helped hundreds of people live the lives that they want, consistent with their personal values.
Arthur Goldberg, JONAH’s co-director, has stated that his organization will vigorously defend itself against a lawsuit that he called “without merit,” and “designed to create a chilling effect upon speech and programs that assist people in overcoming unwanted same-sex attractions.”
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to assist those with unwanted same-sex attractions,” Goldberg said. “There are thousands of people who have overcome or significantly diminished their unwanted same-sex attractions, not only through our programs, but also through other similar programs.”
“As indicated by the publicity surrounding the event, the lawsuit is designed to create a chilling effect on people and organizations that stand for the position that change is possible, a position that is not contradicted by the APA’s latest statements,” Goldberg said.
JONAH’s mission statement states that “because mankind has been endowed by our Creator with a free will, everyone has the capacity to change. Through psychological and spiritual counseling, peer support, and self-empowerment, JONAH seeks to reunify families, to heal the wounds surrounding homosexuality, and to provide hope.”
The FCDF noted that JONAH has never been the target of a lawsuit until now, and this lawsuit is apparently the result of SPLC advertising in the media for people willing to be named as plaintiffs against JONAH.
The SPLC has labeled numerous pro-family organizations “hate groups” for failing their moral objections to homosexuality.
ony Perkins of the Family Research Council called the SPLC’s assertion that reparative therapy is a fraud, because not everyone is “cured, equally “as ridiculous as suing Weight Watchers because they promised you’d lose weight and you didn’t.”
“The only people guilty of fraud are the ones who claim people with same-sex attractions can’t change,” he said.
Mr. LiMandri indicated that the FCDF is teaming up with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to litigate the case, which was filed in New Jersey, with the assistance of Michael Laffey, a highly respected New Jersey attorney who is experienced in freedom of speech and religious liberty cases.
The FCDF is a national public interest law firm that specializes in defending freedom of religion and conscience by providing legal services at the trial level.
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