`BAGELS' to Discuss Gay, Jewish Issues

With an aim of increasing awareness about homosexuality in the Jewish community, a group of Jewish students has founded a group to discuss issues of Judaism, religious community and sexual orientation.

The relationship between Jewish law and being bisexual or gay is an uneasy one, which group cofounder Rachel B. Tiven '96 acknowledged in an interview yesterday. But Tiven said she did not see it as an obstacle for the new discussion group, to be known by the approximate acronym "BAGELS."

"Of course there is tension between Jewish law and the formation of a group that supports bisexual, gay and lesbian students," Tiven said. "But Judaism as a religion is very encouraging of personal happiness."

"You aren't supposed to suffer or be miserable for the law," Tiven added.

The new group has two purposes, Tiven said. "First, we want to make students who are not straight feel more welcome in the Jewish community," Tiven said. "Second, we want to increase the comfort level of the community with these issues."


According to Tiven, BAGELS has between eight and 10 members, and its membership is not limited to gay or bisexual students.

The group, formed last spring, will hold its first meeting as a Hillel-affiliated group later this month, Tiven said.

Affiliated groups, as opposed to official Hillel committees, have greater autonomy as well as a certain distance from Hillel, said Jeremy A. Dauber'95, chair of Hillel's coordinating council.

Dauber said that support for the group withinHillel varies, but the organization backs BAGELS.

"Any different type of method to establish aconstructive Jewish identity is a valid one,"Dauber said. "As a pluralistic institution, Hillelsupports all such attempts."

'Less Vociferous' Supporters

However, Dauber says, "Like any issue atHillel, [BAGELS] has its more vociferoussupporters, and less vociferous supporters,"Dauber said.

Dennis K. Lin '93-'94, co-chair ofHarvard-Radcliffe Bisexual Gay and LesbianStudents Association (BGLSA), said he welcomes thenew group.

"We think it's wonderful. There are many Jewishmembers in BGLSA, including past co-chairs. Ourcommunity is very diverse," Lin said

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