In an appearance this week on “The Elliot Renick Show,” psychotherapist Dr. David Schwartz said that none of his colleagues offered to join his 2017 lawsuit against New York City after it banned therapists from helping people overcome unwanted attraction to members of the same gender.
Nor did NEFESH, which bills itself as The International Network of Orthodox Mental Health Professionals. “There [was] no support for it,” said Schwartz, a Brooklyn-based Lubavitch psychotherapist.
In fact, he said, one of the reasons he sued the city in the first place was NEFESH’s failure to hold even a single session in the past decade on helping frum Jews with unwanted attractions. He said NEFESH likely fears backlash from LGBT activists.
So Schwartz stood alone as he sued the city, and yet – to the surprise of many – he won. Convinced that it would lose in court, the heavily Democrat New York City Council repealed its own ban in 2019 so that a legal precedent against such bans wouldn’t be established.
“I actually heard the…hearings that were done on the day that they repealed it,” Schwartz said. “Two LGBT major organizations…spoke in favor of repealing this law, and I said, ‘Oh, my G-d. I would never have expected that the LGBT community would be [testifying against pro-LGBT legislation].’”
Schwartz said he’s basically “black-balled” by NEFESH at this point even though Rav Dovid Cohen – the organization’s posek – supports his position. He said Rav Cohen is likely unaware of NEFESH’s policy on this topic.
Asked if Rav Cohen could be approached about influencing NEFESH to hold sessions on unwanted LGBT attractions in the future, Schwartz said, “I don’t think [NEFESH is] going to change their position even if he tells them that they should.”
In the course of the interview, Schwartz also discussed his background (he’s a ba’al teshuvah) and his study of the Jonestown mass suicide in which over 900 people – “the great majority” of whom were “normal individuals, college-educated, [and] family-oriented” – poisoned themselves at the direction of their leader, Jim Jones.
“We’re all influenced by society around us,” Schwartz said. “We should never forget that. And we can start doing things that are not healthy.”