This is an interesting story about a New Jersey kosher bakery who refused to bake rainbow-frosted cupcakes because the baker decided Pride-themed events violated his conception of Jewish values. This decision, in turn, has led to a furious backlash from the rest of the local Jewish community, who are livid that the baker is citing Jewish values as justification for homophobic discrimination:
Multiple rabbis have accused the baker of bigotry, and some local Jews are boycotting his shop. The area’s Jewish federation privately said it would stop buying from Mittel before publicly walking back its position. And Eshel, an advocacy group for LGBTQ Orthodox Jews and their families, announced an “ally training” in West Orange this coming Sunday in response to the incident.
The issue blew up as other rabbis in the area learned about what happened and commented publicly.
“When we refuse basic Jewish services to members of our community who are articulating who they are, we are excluding and dividing,” wrote Robert Tobin, rabbi of the Conservative B’nai Shalom in West Orange, in a blog post on June 22. He highlighted the Conservative movement’s recent strides toward LGBTQ inclusion, and an interpretation of the Torah that holds “humans are created in the image of God with a variety of potential gender identities and with the possibility of gender fluidity.” Tobin also reportedly addressed the incident in a sermon, according to the New Jersey Jewish News.
David Vaisberg, senior rabbi at the independent Temple B’nei Abraham in Livingston, New Jersey, tweeted that he was “so disappointed” in the bakery, which is located in a strip mall next to a kosher Chinese restaurant.
“They make great baked goods but have shown themselves to be against the LGBTQ+ in canceling orders of rainbow baked goods in Pride month,” he wrote, adding that he was letting the bakery know why they had lost his business and advised followers to “please do the same.”
This reminded me of a working paper I heard about from years back (which I don't believe has been published, unfortunately), where the author asked Jewish, Christian, and Muslim respondents to give their views regarding government accommodations for Jewish, Christian, or Muslim business owners who for religious reasons did not want to serve gay customers. The most fascinating finding, as I recall, was that Jews were least likely to support an accommodation if they were told it was a Jewish business seeking to discriminate.
At one level, that was a surprising finding -- we'd naturally expect Jews (like all other groups) to display some level of in-group bias, being more sympathetic to claims made by their coreligionists. But on another level, this result made perfect sense to me. Ask me in the abstract about whether business owners can claim a religious exemption from having to serve gay customers, and I'll generally answer no, but I'll acknowledge the important religious freedom and pluralism concerns blah blah blah.
But if somebody asks to do that while carrying my flag and representing my people? Oh, hell no. Screw that guy. You get your ass back into line and stop embarrassing the tribe with your homophobic nonsense. And I suspect something similar is going on in this community of New Jersey Jews.