The Information Center on Reparative Therapy in Israel was created to make accessible existing information about reparative therapy.
The need for such a website came from the recognition that many people lack accessible, reliable and comprehensive information about reparative therapy, despite the fact that the topic has been debated and studied for decades now, that there is extensive clinical literature on the topic as well as many recommendations published by professional organizations around the world. There are therapists, clinicians, teachers and religious leaders who advise people to go to reparative therapy, often not knowing what goes on in such therapy or have only limited knowledge. This situation is worrisome, as many people seeking reparative therapy do not have the tools to research the topic themselves, and, being closeted, refrain from asking for advice. Some of them trust the person who sent them to therapy, deferring to that person’s authority.
Reliable information is inaccessible because sexual orientation is a controversial topic, especially in religious communities. The volatility of the topic prevents an open and empirically-based conversation, and creates a fertile ground for charlatans making empty promises. In Israel, there are several organizations offering reparative therapy, and new organizations are occasionally created to replace organizations that shut down. The methods of treatment are varied, and are rarely transparent. Publications in sectorial newspaper tend to offer uncritical coverage of such organizations, given the inability to discuss sexual orientation in any depth, or out of reluctance to be critical of Rabbis and other community leaders who support reparative therapy for religious reasons. Secular media is often shocked by reparative therapy, but offers no thorough treatment of the topic nor does it deal with existing social conversations about it. Occasionally Rabbis and public figures express their reluctance to reparative therapy, but do so without backing up their position, and their views are sometimes perceived as mere compromise with politically correct discourse. Lay people might get the impression that there is no body of knowledge regarding this topic, even though there clearly is.
The Information Center was created to collect and make accessible facts and informed opinions about reparative therapy. The aim of the Center is to provide tools for teachers, public figures, family members and friends of people who struggle with their sexual orientation, and to help anyone who considers starting therapy with the hope of changing one’s sexual orientation to make an informed decision and to explain that decision to their family, teachers and Rabbis. We believe that currently the need for such reliable information in Hebrew has not been adequately met.
We are doing our best to survey the topic thoroughly, and to present various opinions on it. Our guiding value is respect for the truth, and a recognition of the importance of distinguishing informed views from mistakes, wishes and lies. We believe that making these issues transparent will allow the reader to make up their own mind and to have more fruitful conversations on the topic with their relatives and friends.
We are a group of volunteers who are committed to investigating this topic. Some of us have personally dealt with the issues it presents, including going through reparative therapy. The Information Center started as an independent project of Nadav Schwarz and Gil Friedman, and it is endorsed and supported by Havruta, a leading Israeli organization for gay men.
We present empirically-based research, offer discussion of religion and Halachic aspects, personal testimonies, and Q&A intended for those attending reparative therapy or are interested in starting such therapy. Some of the material presented here might be hard to watch or read. The website uses mainly the pronoun ‘he’, because most therapists promising change of sexual-orientation focus on homosexual men. The information we present, however, is often equally valid for women.
We use the term “gay” to refer to any person whose attraction is not heterosexual, and so is a potential target for therapists offering reparative therapy. This includes bisexuals. The exact meaning of the term “gay” is a man who is sexually and emotionally attracted primarily to other men, and who identifies himself in this way.
This website is dynamic, and its content is constantly updating. If you have relevant information please share with us so we can add it to the website.
As a volunteer-based project, we appreciate any help, in the shape of information, writing, and funding. Havruta, the organization supporting the project, is a recognized NGO under 46a, allowing for donations by organizations and tax-benefits for certain donations.
We are happy to answer questions, listen to suggestions, and publish personal stories.