`277 Eshel Preys on Orthodox Jews but Won't Answer Questions
Chananya Weissman

July 18, 2023


As the war on God and humanity approaches a climax, Amalek is making a full-court press to legitimize and spread all types of deviant behaviors. Amalek will be utterly destroyed in the end – this was prophesied already by Bil'am – but until that glorious day arrives we must prevent Amalek from taking our people down with them.

I don't know if the people behind Eshel are truly Jewish or Jewish in name only, but they are doing Amalek's unholy work.

Their mission page features the following statement: "We envision a world where LGBTQ+ people and their families are full participants in the Orthodox community of their choice."

To someone with a big heart and a primitive mind, this will come across as innocuous, even virtuous. After all, it's easy to feel sorry for people who are left out. Portraying such people as righteous underdogs, victims of cruelty and injustice, is a highly effective strategy. We see this tactic time and time again to seize the narrative and shut down serious discussion, let alone criticism of the perceived victims, because it works.

But if we stop a moment and actually consider the implications of Eshel's "vision", it's not so innocuous.

What would it mean for LGBTQ+ people to be "full participants in the Orthodox community of their choice"? It would mean your son's Rebbe or Rosh Yeshiva might be homosexual and proud of it. Don't think your Yeshiva would never hire someone like that. Hiring practices that discriminate against people based on such criteria would be illegal and could get the Yeshiva shut down.

That would be fine with them, too. They might even prefer that to actually being hired.

It would mean your daughter's seminary teacher might be a man who claims to be a woman and uses the same bathroom as your daughter. It would mean this same man would sit in the women's section of the Orthodox synagogue of his choice, and you would be powerless to utter a peep of protest. Doing so might even land you in prison.

When we unpack the positive sounding, emotionally manipulative buzzwords and translate it to plain English, this is Eshel's vision. Not today, and not tomorrow – they've been playing the long game for decades – but they are almost there, and they mean business.

Eshel was founded in 2010 by Miryam Kabakov and Steve Greenberg. Greenberg's claim to fame is being ordained as a rabbi by RIETS and subsequently disclosing that he is homosexual. According to everyone who isn't an Orthodox Jew, this means one can be an Orthodox rabbi and also gay, which is very convenient for falsifying the Torah and confusing people. Greenberg has made quite a career out of this – the secular world will shower such Jews with endless accolades and grants – and he generously co-founded Eshel to spread this bounty with more people who grew up in Orthodox Jewish environments.

Kabakov was not ordained as a rabbi – it is unclear why not – but this did not prevent her from marrying her wife and receiving an award for editing an abomination-promoting book called "Keep Your Wives Away From Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires". In a 2010 softball interview in the Forward, Kabakov referred to herself as "post-modern Orthodox" and noted that she attends a Conservative synagogue.

She also works with Footsteps, an organization that supports Jews in abandoning Orthodox Judaism. One of their great success stories is Abby Stein, "a formerly Ultra-Orthodox rabbi" who later "came out as transgender women". Talk about self-actualization!

Of course, it's not enough for people like Abby Stein to be assisted with cutting ties with the Orthodox world. That's why Kabakov co-founded Eshel, to make sure people like Stein can remain entrenched in the Orthodox world – in the Orthodox community of their choice! – and be treated no differently than anyone else. The goal of Eshel is to convince disturbed individuals, their families, and their communities that being a transvestite and a homosexual is totally fine by the Torah. It's not even something worth noticing, except to declare how wonderful it is.

If Eshel's vision is realized, people like Abby Stein would teach children in Boro Park and Lakewood – and you'd better pretend to be fine with that.

Kabakov was quoted in the JTA article about the West Orange Bake Shop, which canceled an order for perversity-themed pastries. The article noted that Eshel "announced an “ally training” in West Orange... in response to the incident".

On July 13 I emailed Eshel a media inquiry, requesting to interview Miriam Kabakov or a different representative from the organization regarding the incident with the bakery and related matters.

Just two hours later I received a response from Kabakov (who identifies in the signature line of her email as "she/her"). She – just to be clear, she! – wanted to know my questions and what publication I was working with. I replied that I am independent, but I write for a wide audience that includes Orthodox, secular, and non-Jewish readers, and my articles have been published in a wide range of publications. I then asked her eight questions, which follow. Although these are not the usual softball questions Kabakov is likely used to in interviews, they are most reasonable and on point.

I did not hear back.

The next day I sent Kabakov a follow-up email noting that the incident with the bakery was a timely matter and asking her to let me know if she would be responding to my questions.

I did not hear back. Kabakov's hunger for media attention had completely disappeared. She must have realized I wasn't writing an infomercial for Eshel, in which case she had nothing to say. I can't say this surprised me – these people confine themselves to "safe spaces" and scripted interviews – but it's remarkable to witness it up close.

On July 17, four days after Kabakov's near-immediate initial response had turned to radio silence, I wrote to her as follows: "If I don't hear back from you today I will assume you are declining to respond to the questions and will note that in the article. Thank you."

Kabakov responded almost immediately. Techiyas Hameisim! A miracle!

Unfortunately, she declared that her reply was off the record, though you're not missing much. She did not respond to my questions, save a single puffy quote that she permitted me to use. I will share that later. First, the questions:

1. In response to the baker's decision not to fulfill the order for Pride-themed goods, Eshel announced "ally training" in West Orange. What does this entail in practical terms, and what is the end goal of this training?

There is nothing objectionable about this question. If the people at Eshel were acting in good faith, not working to subvert the Orthodox world, Kabakov should have been proud to elaborate. She would have explained how she is training people inside the Orthodox Jewish world to respond to business owners and others who are unwilling to fully acquiesce with the LGBT demand of the day, and to otherwise push their agenda forward. This would have been a great opportunity for her to share some of this training with a wider audience. Why not be transparent?

But since this is all about subverting the community, the last thing they want is for you and me to see what's going on behind the facade. Only allies can be privy to their training.

There is a militaristic connotation even to the term "ally training". Allies are people you seek in times of war, and training is for foot soldiers. Kabakov can't state explicitly that she is at war with Orthodox Jewry, seeking to foment an insurrection from within. So she simply ignored the question.

2. There have been calls for a boycott of this bakery. Does Eshel support this measure?

There are two ways Kabakov could have responded to this question: yes or no. Neither answer would have suited her agenda.

If she said yes, many potential "allies" in the community would be horrified. It's one thing to support sweet and cuddly LGBT people and assure them that their behavior is totally fine by Hashem, but it's another thing to shut down a local kosher bakery and destroy people's livelihood because they wouldn't fill a religiously objectionable order. Allies of Eshel would love to see a torch-bearing mob destroy the bakery, but Kabakov can't come out and say it. Not yet, anyway.

If she said no, on the other hand, many of Eshel's allies would turn against her. How dare she cower before the primitive religious tyrants who wouldn't fill the order? How dare she be gracious and understanding toward an Orthodox Jew who won't do anything and everything they demand of him?

Although this question is most reasonable, there is no way Kabakov could answer it, and therefore no ally in the media would ask it.

3. What is Eshel's position on the recent Supreme Court decision that upholds the right of the baker to turn down orders such as these? In a better world, would the business and the owner be subject to legal action and severe penalties? In essence, to what extent should businesses be forced to fulfill orders that conflict with their personal/religious convictions?

Ditto the above. This was an excellent opportunity for a sincere person to offer a thoughtful response, regardless of whether she felt the bakery should be shut down, legally protected, or anything in between. But no answer would have served her agenda to infiltrate and subvert the Orthodox Jewish world, so I am not surprised she declined to offer one.

4. What would be Eshel's position if a baker canceled an order for a cake with swastikas because he finds them personally and religiously offensive? Where can we reasonably draw the line? Or can we draw a line anywhere?

I definitely upped the ante with this question, but it's entirely reasonable. A sincere person might have answered in one of the following ways:

a) Argue that a religiously offensive order is totally different from a Nazi-themed order, thus the baker could reject the latter, but must fill the former. It wouldn't be a strong argument, but I would be able to convince many people otherwise if I wanted to.

b) Argue that there is no substantial difference, or it's too slippery a slope to try to determine where to draw the line, and thus the baker should swallow his disgust, fill both orders, and count his money at the end of the day. After all, if he wants people to tolerate him as an Orthodox Jew, he has to cater to Nazis and Satanists. God bless America.

Obviously Kabakov declined to answer this question.

5. If an LGBTQ+ business owner received an order for a product that is anti-LGBT (such as verses from the Torah or rabbinic teachings to that effect, or, to provide an extreme example, depicting a stoning), what would be Eshel's position in such a scenario?

This question is a checkmate for any abomination agitator, assuming you can find one capable of anything more than screaming obscenities or scurrying away when confronted with an uncomfortable question.

Miryam Kabakov runs an organization and needs to appear respectable, so she opted for the latter.

6. Eshel is actively assisting LGBTQ+ individuals with a dating service, advertising this as "Find Your Bashert". The traditional Orthodox position on bashert is that 40 days before someone is born, a voice from heaven proclaims that "the daughter of so-and-so is intended for the son of so-and-so". In your opinion, has the voice from heaven changed? Was this teaching never intended to be gender specific, although it seems to have always been understood that way?

If someone is going to misappropriate a traditional Jewish concept, while posing as an organization that supports Orthodox Jews, they should have an answer for this question off the top of their head. But I'm willing to bet I'm the first person who ever posed it to Eshel.

It's also remarkable the way people who reject the Talmud and Talmudic rabbis as the authoritative source of authentic Judaism and Torah law regularly poach material from this very source to prop up their illegitimate inventions.

This leads to the final two questions.

7. You previously described yourself as "post-modern Orthodox" who attends a Conservative synagogue. As a co-founder of Eshel, how does this reconcile with Eshel describing itself as an Orthodox organization? How does the organization overcome this seeming contradiction?

Indeed, what business does a non-Orthodox (by this point probably even post-Conservative) lesbian have creating programs within Orthodox communities and basically telling us how things should be done? As an Orthodox rabbi, what business would I have marching into a Conservative or Reform community and telling them how to run their show?

It's an entirely reasonable question, but it would topple the boat, and hence Kabakov declined to answer it.

8. This final question really cuts to the core of everything. Why is it so important for people who identify as LGBTQ+ to also identify and be fully accepted as Orthodox Jews? Being that so many people interpret the Torah in a myriad of ways, why is it so important to insinuate oneself into congregations and communities which have adopted a more fundamentalist approach, and not just "do your own thing", even if it isn't called Orthodox? Why do so many young people despair to the point of suicide if they are not fully accepted as both LGBTQ+ and strictly Orthodox? Why not just be LGBTQ+ and Conservative, Reform, or something else entirely?

I mentioned that Kabakov gave me one quote I can use, and it seems to apply here: "Many frum Jews who are LGBTQ do not "insinuate" themselves into Orthodox shuls, but rather they are born into them and grow up to discover they can no longer be part of them, and thus lose their spiritual homes."

She cleverly avoided the crux of the matter, instead cherry-picking a single word – an entirely expendable word – to springboard into an emotional appeal. That is the only card they can ever play, the "we have to empathize with the wonderful, suffering LGBTQ folks and do everything possible to accommodate them, otherwise you're a terrible person" card.

Unfortunately for Kabakov, emotionally manipulative deflections such as these are losing power with each passing day, and get nowhere with me. In my final reply to Kabakov, I wrote as follows:

"As you founded and represent an organization, I asked highly relevant and pointed questions about the activities and policies of your organization, which I assume you would be prepared and willing to answer even if the one asking these questions was not already on your side... I think it behooves you as the founder of an organization to respond to such questions, which are entirely reasonable and logical. Avoiding these questions is not a good look – but it's your choice. Please let me know either way."

That was the end of the correspondence.

Although Eshel was founded in 2010, they started getting serious money in 2019, with over $350,000 in contributions and grants. $271,000 of that was spent on salaries, other compensation, and employee benefits, with Miryam Kabakov and Steven Greenberg netting a combined $175,000 in salary alone. In 2020 the contributions and grants for Eshel reached nearly half a million dollars. See the tax returns here and here.

You can make a lot of money being gay, especially if you promote the notion that you can be actively homosexual, dress like the opposite gender, and be an Orthodox Jew, too. Many organizations, foundations, and wealthy individuals who are very distant from Orthodox Judaism will throw money at you, the secular establishment will gush over your books, and the secular media will shower you with positive attention and well-placed quotes. All because you care so very much about the feelings of Orthodox Jews who are struggling, which is of course everyone's number one concern.

Conversely, if someone used to struggle with same-sex attraction or was disturbed about his gender, yet he withdrew from the LGBT "community", overcame his demons, and successfully married and raised a family, no foundation, organization, or wealthy individuals will throw money at him to share his story and encourage others to follow his "footsteps" into the light. The establishment will not give his book an award or any positive attention, nor will he be the media's go-to expert for quotes.

If such people start an organization to encourage Orthodox Jews who are victims of abuse or otherwise severely disturbed that there is real hope, not only will they not receive half a million dollars in funding, they will be persecuted until they are shut down.

Interesting, no?

Amalek and their collaborators have snared enough of our precious souls.

Eshel and their ilk have no business running programs in our communities.

Keep them away from our children.



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