Jewish gay group Dayenu has rejected claims by a 21-year-old former student that there is a culture of homophobia within the Jewish private school Moriah College.

Judd Weinberg, school captain of Moriah in 2001, sent hundreds of letters to the school’s students and staff about the suffering and pain of gay Moriah. He has also posted the letter on the internet.

The socio-economic conservatism of the college has and continues to breed a chronic homophobia that denies and demonises same-sex attraction, he said in the letter.

Weinberg urged the school’s principal, Roy Steinman, to begin anti-vilification programs and to release an official statement which unequivocally recognises that modern knowledge and culture overrides the Torah’s damaging and outdated references to homosexuality.

Weinberg told Sydney Star Observer he had received around 120 emails and phone calls since sending the letters, around half of which had been positive. However, he said it had deeply offended a lot of religious people and he had received death threats.

He said he came out six months ago and that while he never experienced any homophobia at Moriah College himself, he remembered one boy in his year was regularly called faggot and poofter.

Steinman told Sydney Star Observer his school had dealt with this issue exhaustively with the writer of the pamphlet and he didn’t wish to comment any further.

Dayenu coordinator Malcolm Davidowitz said he didn’t support Weinberg’s views and was worried the letter campaign could damage relations between the gay and Jewish communities.

I deal with the Jewish schools all the time and I know what the feeling is in the community, and it’s not anything like what this guy is stating, Davidowitz said, adding that school teachers had contacted him for advice when they thought a student was gay.

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