A gay Orthodox Jewish organization in Israel finds that of the 1,157 haredim who have contacted it, two-thirds are married and nearly half of these husbands have sex with men at least once a month, ynetnews reports.
"Most gay haredim are married to women who are unaware of their situation, and they are leading a double life," said Rabbi Ron Yosef, founder and head of HOD as well as Israel's only "out" gay Orthodox rabbi.
The organization, whose Hebrew acronym stands for "religious homosexuals," started up seven years ago as an address for national-religious (knitted kippa) gays, but in the last two years has broadened its approach to include Haredim – and they now make up 20 percent of HOD's contacts, ynetnews reported on Thursday.
HOD says the men come from across Israel's Haredi community – from major Hasidic orders such as Ger, Viznitz, Bratslav, Chabad, Satmar and Belz, and prestigious yeshivot including Ponevezh, Porat Yosef and Hebron. They live in all the main ultra-Orthodox cities and towns, including Jerusalem, Beitar Illit, Modi'in Illit, Elad, Beit Shemesh and Bnei Brak.
"The situation of homosexuals in the Haredi society is much more difficult because of the social isolation they live in. A gay Haredi man cannot share his situation with his friends in the community or the yeshiva, his family members or rabbis, and 'coming out of the closet' is definitely inconceivable, said Yosef, who heads a small synagogue in Netanya.