Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality

Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH) is a Jewish organization that focuses on "prevention, intervention, and healing of the underlying issues causing same-sex attractions". They take the Orthodox view that the Torah prohibits homosexual behavior, and is hence most (not all) of its members are Orthodox Jews. Although the Torah does not prohibit homosexual thoughts, JONAH claims to help its members overcome homosexual thoughts. They believe everyone can change, because the Creator has endowed mankind with freewill. It uses a variety of "psycho-educational" methods, including live support group meetings, E-mail list-serv groups, networking, therapy referrals, experiential weekend programs. It has an extensive library which includes books, articles, and tapes. It attracts a variety of Jews with same-sex attractions, including those who are engaging themselves in homosexual activities but want to lead a heterosexual life, and those who are already in a heterosexual relationship and/or marriage. It also works directly with spouses, parents, and other friends and relatives.

JONAH uses reparative therapy techniques that are not endorsed by mainstream medical organizations and many of which have expressed concerns over some of the ethics and motivations surrounding its practice.

JONAH was created in 1999, with its executive offices in Jersey City, New Jersey. Previously, most support groups were Christian, and Jews had nowhere to turn within their own religion. It is now a world-wide organization, with the majority of its membership in the United States, Israel, Canada and Europe. Its website is in English, Hebrew and Spanish. In July 2003, it joined with 10 other organization that "help people conflicted over unwanted homosexual attractions" to form a coalition called Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality.

JONAH does not teach hatred towards homosexuals. Rabbi Dr. Samuel Rosenberg, L.C.S.W., the group director for JONAH, stated "We must repeatedly remind ourselves that, in the Torah, it is not the person, but the act that is abhorred. Moreover, even after the act, we have the obligation to promote teshuva and not censure by the family, leaders, and community."

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