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Rachael Fried

July 19, 2023 Modi Season 4 Episode 82
Rachael Fried
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AND HERE’S MODI
Rachael Fried
Jul 19, 2023 Season 4 Episode 82
Modi

Episode 82: Rachel Fried is the executive director of JQY (Jewish Queer Youth), an organization that supports and empowers LGBTQ Jewish youth with a special focus on teens and young adults from Orthodox, Chassidic, and Sephardi/Mizrahi communities. 

For information about upcoming shows visit www.modilive.com.
Follow Modi on Instagram at @modi_live.

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Episode 82: Rachel Fried is the executive director of JQY (Jewish Queer Youth), an organization that supports and empowers LGBTQ Jewish youth with a special focus on teens and young adults from Orthodox, Chassidic, and Sephardi/Mizrahi communities. 

For information about upcoming shows visit www.modilive.com.
Follow Modi on Instagram at @modi_live.

Support the Show.

Modi:

get ins shape are here. Welcome to, and here's Modi. Today's episode is sponsored to you by A&H Provisions Meat and hot dogs that are so good. Even goyim understand how amazing they are. It's the next level of kosher food and the website is kosherdogsnet. Hi everybody, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi and hi, hello, hi to all our guests. We are back in the studio. We, of course, right at the top. Thank our sponsors, our partners, our collaborative people. We have A&H Provisions the best I don't know if you know this to our guests, rachel the best kosher hot dogs and kosher meats.

Rachael Fried:

Glad to hear that.

Modi:

Glot kosher, glot kosher Amazing Website is kosherdogsnet.

Periel:

It was 4th of July, not that long ago, and we got a huge package. Yes, we did, which even my goyim friend enjoyed.

Leo:

We have a free, successful hot dog and we're bringing them out to the front of the ride and we're out there and we'll do content with that.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, we're going to bring a little.

Modi:

Jake Cohen will cook up a whole bunch of stuff. That's great. And Whites and Luxembourg, the amazing law firm that you always want on your side, the law firm that, while they're doing well, they're also doing good. They're very philanthropic and involved in all kinds of amazing and unbelievable charities and organizations, and they're just amazing. Arthur Luxembourg is a big fan of the podcast and a good friend and we always thank them. And now we have a guest in the house and, as you all know, please welcome Rachel. The show is always done by Periel.

Periel:

Voila, rachel Freed. Hi Rachel, hello, thank you, hi Rachel. Hi Rachel, she's the executive director of JQI and you should visit them at jqiorg.

Modi:

What is JQI?

Periel:

Jewish Queer Youth. It's a nonprofit that supports and empowers LGBTQ youth, with a focus on those from Orthodox, hasidic and Sephardic Mizrahi homes. There's a drop in center at Times Square. I don't need to say what the operating budget is, do I? No, she is committed to ensuring that the voices of queer Jewish individuals are heard and celebrated. Okay, so that's Messiah Hener.

Leo:

And you were both on the 36 to watch list.

Rachael Fried:

Oh, that's right, I missed you at the party.

Modi:

I was working. What was it Jewish? Week Jewish, week the Jewish week had the top 36 people to watch, I sent.

Rachael Fried:

Barry Manilow together. Barry Manilow was there. He wasn't there, but he was on the list with us, that's a good list.

Leo:

It's an amazing list to watch, I hope you've been watching him.

Modi:

Barry Manilow has been around forever. He's on the to watch list.

Rachael Fried:

Under 36. He's in the New York to watch list specifically.

Modi:

I'm under 36 because your age is under 36. That's what I like about him.

Rachael Fried:

It used to be 36 under 36.

Modi:

Now it's just 36 to watch. What's your background? Where are you from?

Rachael Fried:

I grew up in Fairfield, connecticut, tiny out of town, little Orthodox community. I went to Yeshivi University for 12 years in a row, from high school through grad school.

Modi:

Wow, those of you who I didn't do the biology, the biography. Because, as you know, I'm dyslexic and I'm a mess. But when you read her bio, she has like a fellowship in every single university, every type of awards that they give to study more. They gave her. They paid me to leave school. Here's a degree. Please just go away. Just go away. She's the opposite. They gave her awards and degrees and fellowships, and good for you, congratulations.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, only a few, but thank you.

Modi:

Yeah.

Rachael Fried:

So I went to high school in Central. She's from the high school. So, you grew up religious, I grew up religious.

Modi:

You went to YU, which is Yeshivi University, yeah.

Rachael Fried:

I went to the Yeshivi University high school for girls Then I went to Stern College for women, wow. After I went to Israel first on Olive and Bette, so two years.

Periel:

Two years ago in Israel.

Rachael Fried:

And then, yeah, and then I went to YU's social work school.

Leo:

Wow.

Rachael Fried:

Then I went to Parsons just to get out of the YU world for a little.

Periel:

Wow, were you like fully observant or religious? Did you like fit in or was it like why am I in here? Yeah?

Rachael Fried:

I definitely I fit in. I was the president of student council at Stern so I was like Were you out when you were, I was not out I was like just I sort of was just coming out to myself when I was in Shana Bette, my second year in Israel, which was not a great time to come out Do you ever imagine being the president of the student thing?

Modi:

Do you have any emails involved in that? Yeah, yeah, yeah, you have any idea sending in this and a poster and the printer and I couldn't.

Rachael Fried:

It's not so different from being executive director.

Leo:

I love it. I love it.

Periel:

How many emails do you think you would take before you just started ignoring?

Modi:

I would ignore the first one hey, let's have a meeting. No, let's not have a meeting. No, good for you, Congratulations no.

Rachael Fried:

I do. I relate to the emails. Yeah, thank you.

Rachael Fried:

So I was like, not only a part of the like, really a part of the student body, but I was the president of student council running yeah, and it's interesting, I think that a kind of form of outsider-ness is leadership, Like I think I sort of gravitated towards places, positions of power, I guess, or positions that were above the rest of the community, because I felt like something is different about me and kind of like on the outside, and I was like I could either be a you know wallflower on the side who doesn't really know was not really part of things, or I can be on top of everyone and leading everything and who's not really fully part of things either.

Modi:

That's an interesting way. It's a very interesting way, almost a coping mechanism, I think it is. It's like you're almost watching it from the outside. You look at guests looking in, almost You're invited guests. You know there's an expression in Yiddish agastha fa vial, zastha fa mile. When you have a guest for a while, did they see for miles? They see things that people don't see. So you've, that's an amazing analogy.

Rachael Fried:

Thank you Interesting.

Modi:

And then, and I read the, I read the 20, what's it called?

Periel:

23 and May.

Modi:

No, stop, I did that also that when they gave me information about you, they sent me this 20 principles of oh, the statement of principles Statement of principles, yes, which I'm not crazy about. They were great, and great that they got rabbis and it's a move towards it, but how do you feel about that?

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, that was actually a long time ago, actually, I don't remember what year it was 2010.

Periel:

2010.

Rachael Fried:

Okay. So 13 years ago and in the LGBTQ world of how things are going 13 years ago is like yeah, a thousand years. So it's, I would say, pretty outdated. Okay, I haven't read it in like 11 years maybe.

Leo:

So I can't, I can't like fully. You kind of jumped in as to like you didn't really explain what that was. But we don't have to dwell on that, okay it was during a time where conversion therapy was prominent in.

Rachael Fried:

It was a regular thing to be referring people in the orthodox community to conversion therapy, and so it was. It was combating that.

Periel:

And is that not a thing anymore?

Rachael Fried:

It's still. It's definitely still a thing, but there was an organization called Jonah which so that's where I found out about you.

Leo:

Yeah, from the New York Times. Yeah, so we'll explain. Jonah, I guess yeah.

Rachael Fried:

Jonah stands for Jews, offering new alternatives to homosexuality. I literally cannot.

Leo:

I cannot believe that, so yeah.

Periel:

Okay, keep going.

Rachael Fried:

I also cannot, and it was a conversion therapy organization that supported. It was mostly, I think, for orthodox Jewish people, and at the time it was like, if you are orthodox and queer, either you go to JQI or you go to Jonah, and some people went to both. There are people who knew each other from Jonah and JQI.

Modi:

I would go to both of you who's got hotter people and hang out.

Rachael Fried:

Oh, yeah, maybe, and those were the two top. If you Google like orthodox and queer, those were the top two hits and now the top hit is JQI.

Leo:

And.

Rachael Fried:

Jonah is.

Leo:

We love that.

Rachael Fried:

Jonah is no longer an organization Really, at least not functioning under that name. There's like some kind of stuff going on in Israel.

Leo:

Some underground railroad shipping kids off to Israel.

Periel:

Okay, wait. First of all, all of those people should go to jail.

Leo:

I'm not going to, but that's where I found out about Rachel and JQI was because I read this article about Jonah and you were quoted, or someone from JQI was quoted and I was like, oh, we have to talk to this person.

Periel:

So it's these crazy things that happen. So first of all, we have a very close friend who was orthodox and did conversion therapy Danny Cohen.

Modi:

Yeah, oh, that's right. Why, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Periel:

I mean, okay, but aside, what happened to all of these poor children and who are these people who are trying to do? This thing, and why is this not against, like every single principle of Judaism across the?

Rachael Fried:

board. Yeah, it's a good question. I mean there are Okay how to handle this? There are so many people who are doing this quote unquote conversion therapy under different words and names, and I think that's what's going on right now. So, like Jonah doesn't exist anymore because JQI members sued Jonah and won the case, Wow.

Modi:

That's what they want for business fraud.

Rachael Fried:

I think it was like wow. That Jonah promised something, a product that they could not deliver.

Modi:

Wow, that's what shut down, jonah.

Periel:

Wow.

Rachael Fried:

But there are many, many rabbis and again quote, unquote therapists who are practicing things that sound like this, where they're not using the exact terminology, because in many states I think less than half of the states conversion therapy for minors is illegal. So it's definitely not or not where we should be in this regard, but different words, like what? Sexual addiction? Or like helping people with unwanted sexual desires, or I don't. There's, like certain key words, that kind of symbolize.

Leo:

How does JQI, kind of like take some of those people who are a part of that and like help them, like what are some of the things that you hear from kids? Because you have the drop in center? Yeah, we have a drop in center.

Rachael Fried:

How does that work? Do you think you have a lock?

Leo:

in center. That is kind of in most states that you can do. I would imagine it might be a little scary to go to somewhere in person where someone is terrifying yeah recognize you or see you yeah.

Rachael Fried:

A lot of people come to JQI and they sort of circle around the block a few times before they come in. Or you sit and sit in like pacing back and forth outside and then eventually they come in. Or you kind of have to be like hi, are you here for JQI? And then be extra, um, like super, extra friendly.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, it's that position of like who's standing at the door, is so important. Because of that reason, absolutely. We one time had a training it was a security training of like how do we know if someone kind of sketchy is standing outside? And they were saying, well, if you see someone pacing back and forth or standing there, and staring across like, so you mean every JQI participant.

Modi:

No, I would think like that some parents or some people trying to see what you guys are about will be would be the sketchy ones.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah.

Modi:

Sketchy. Someone trying to assess you is uh, is just like should I walk in? I shouldn't walk in. That's not sketchy, that's just like scared.

Periel:

Yes, yes, well, scared, yeah, and you guys are like literally saving these kids lives. My understanding is that the suicide rate in the orthodox Jewish community is exponentially higher than in almost any other minority community. Is that?

Rachael Fried:

I don't know how it compares to other minority communities. I know that in JQI, with the intakes that we do at our drop in center, 70% of participants express some kind of suicidality, which could mean attempts or some serious like seriously considering suicide. And that's, that is. Yes, that is exponentially higher than the general population and really than any other study that I've seen.

Periel:

Yeah, so if somebody is listening to this and they know someone, or someone themselves, how can they go to you Other than obviously going to the website, and what kinds of things can you guys offer?

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, so JQIorg slash connect has, like that's, a quick, quick link to all the different resources we have. That is, we have the drop in center, which is in person every Thursday night. We have a virtual drop in center. That's on Tuesday nights. That was because of we went virtual on COVID and then suddenly found actually there are queer youth around the world who need resources like JQI and so yeah.

Rachael Fried:

So now we are, we're in the middle of a national expansion and we're figuring out how we can best support people in other places outside of the main thing you're telling the kids.

Modi:

If there's one thing you're telling the kids is what is it? Be proud, don't be scared, don't listen. What is it you're telling the youth? I?

Rachael Fried:

think in a nutshell yeah, it's, you are not alone.

Modi:

Yeah, oh you are.

Rachael Fried:

You're not alone and, yeah, be proud of who you are. But sometimes, in order to get that, that's almost too advanced when somebody comes to JQI to say like, be proud of who you are. The first step is like you're not the only one like you. You thought that you were, and actually here's a room full of people who all thought that they were the only ones like them. Wow.

Rachael Fried:

And now they're all together. So that's. I think that's the first thing. And then, and then, from that there's like a call. It's called collective self esteem, right, the idea that you can be proud to be yourself as part of a group of other people that also can be proud. It's like there's it's a Jewish thing too, like I'm really proud that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was Jewish and I'm really embarrassed that made off as Jewish, right, right, and that's collective self esteem and it's, it's similar.

Modi:

I always say be a proud Jew and be you. You know that's like that's it, and be proud of everything just done or embarrassed by what would awful things have happened, but I, I always like it's. I function on the one premise across the board Gay, straight, sephardic, Ashkenazi. The most important thing is to reveal Mashiach. I know it sounds nuts and it's, but that that's the most important thing and all these kids need to know that that's, that's, that's their goal, that that's the goal you know. And and when you find your, your, your partner or whoever, your, your spouse, the goal is can you reveal Mashiach with this person? If you are gay and you want to keep Shabbat when they're like candles, you can. You don't have to worry about what some rabbi who thinks have so many thoughts. What?

Leo:

if so many thoughts running through my head. Ok because I wasn't also not here for the last episode where you discussed that incident on the podcast, which is probably for the best.

Rachael Fried:

Right, I was not here. Very good, yes.

Leo:

Because I'd be foaming at the mouth, but I just, you know, I was online handling your account, through all that and some of the things I was getting from people I mean, a lot of it was positive, but it's just scary and, like you know, your kids are watching you and your kids are listening to you and they're absorbing what you're saying and, as someone who's gay and doesn't speak to their parents because of religious reasons, like you're causing a lot of harm and a lot of hurt. And you, I can't even engage with anyone who thinks that being gay is a choice. If you think, in 2023, that people choose their sexual orientation or their gender identity or whatever it is, I can't even engage with you past that, because you have to. Why would anyone choose that? And so then for them to say, on this list of things that you mentioned, the principle, you know, one of the things and Christians like to do this too is like well, you know, it's not a sin to have the attraction, as long as you guys just don't do anything, and I'm like that.

Leo:

To erase a whole part of someone's sexual identity and human experience is so condescending and for people to be dissecting what you and I may or may not be doing in the bedroom. To determine what you're doing is kosher or not is so dehumanizing and so, again, just condescending and it's. It's really upsetting as someone who is not Jewish, but you know, I understand you know.

Modi:

so, speaking of, we know people who've the parents didn't accept, the parents didn't accept and the child and the and now I'm reading books about this because we have them in the house about people who this is not me, but people who have just cut the parents off, like, ok, this, we gave them a chance we get. How do you coach, do you? Is that something you recommended to to the youth? Yeah, if the parents are out of control and just the pains in the asses and just yeah, it's a good question.

Rachael Fried:

I mean, we know, I think everything is individually Well. Ok, I want to take a step back for a second. I just want to say that are you said what the mission of JQI is. We support and empower LGBTQ youth with a focus on specific people. But what we? What we were a mental health organization. So everything that we do comes from the standpoint of making sure that every individual who comes to JQI is physically and emotionally healthy and well and happy and can basically thrive and be their best selves.

Rachael Fried:

So this definitely is not a one answer sort of fits, all kind of thing, but it really depends on the situation If there is a lot of times people can't just leave their parents. We work mostly with high schoolers, right? So our age range is 13 to 23, actually, so high school and college and in most cases it's actually not an option for people to not speak to their parents or to leave, and it's an interesting thing.

Rachael Fried:

We actually we recently had a meeting with a group of Hasidish parents who some of their kids are already coming to JQI. So they're Hasidish parents who have LGBTQ or questioning youth children, and they were like what's your? They wanted to demystify JQI. What are you? What's?

Modi:

going on here. What did you tell them?

Rachael Fried:

And we talked about it.

Modi:

That's good that they can. Yeah, it's amazing that they can. It was a great conversation.

Rachael Fried:

Wow, and they were willing to that. They reached out to us and wanted to talk to us about this and they were kind of rightfully so skeptical what's this organization that's working with, that's supporting my child without my permission? And we said we are a mental health organization, we support and empower and they were like but what's your agenda?

Modi:

And we were like well like healthy and wellness, and we said you know like also like no, no, no, hold on, let me finish when they were saying what's your agenda?

Rachael Fried:

what do you think?

Modi:

they were saying Money, is it money you're looking to collect? People always assume a few things.

Rachael Fried:

One that we are trying to make people not Orthodox which is like really interesting and not at all part of our mission. We have no agenda of. I always say we have no agenda. Some people love Orthodoxy and want to be like fully part of it and out as themselves and we're like amazing, you can be that here. Some people hate Orthodoxy and are like I want nothing to do with it, but this is my background and my language and all that, and so I come here.

Modi:

So they're an autopilot and they want to stay an autopilot on doing the Mitzvot and the Halachan.

Rachael Fried:

Well, some people really love it Like.

Modi:

I don't know if it's autopilot. Yeah, me too, me too.

Periel:

I'm one of them. I'm there.

Rachael Fried:

So I don't think it's necessarily autopilot. There's always. It's actually not. They are automatically forced to fight for to be part of the Orthodox community. So it's actually not autopilot, it's like upstream manual situation.

Modi:

Yeah, fighting Within like a synagogue to get an aliyah to be called up for the Torah, it's not even that.

Rachael Fried:

That's like too. I think it's a bigger picture where it's just like you are not welcome here. That doesn't matter and I think that what's also interesting.

Modi:

I do want the listeners to know that it's not all Orthodox synagogues and Orthodox people.

Rachael Fried:

It's not. It's definitely not.

Modi:

The Jewish people they're. My synagogue is an Orthodox synagogue, Orthodox rabbi. There's a separate seating, Not like there's not like a barrier, like a wall between Mexico and America. In between there's a machitza legit machitza and it's completely inclusive. They have we have gay couples, they have trans people and it's Orthodox.

Rachael Fried:

Yes, totally, and I'm also, I'm part of a synagogue called the base community which is similar, sounds very similar, actually, in all those ways that you just said. But also I think it's important to note that, regardless of the policies that any synagogue has, if they don't say it out loud, often, the majority of times, the assumption is I would not be welcome here if people knew who I was. So it's possible that many, most, it's possible that most Orthodox Jews would say you are totally welcome here. Somebody comes out and nothing would change.

Modi:

But if the participants don't know that, then it's sort of a projected rejection, right, then yeah, Right, and I cannot stress enough how many times I performed for a Chabad organization, where I get there and the rabbi always gives you the ahana, the preparation of what's happening. We have Latin people in the synagogue from Venezuela, we have Israelis, we have people who are religious, people who are not religious and we have a few gay couples and their children are in our school and they're wonderful and they are one of the best students we have in the school and I'm like this is it. This is Mashiach energy, this is the ahavta l'erecha kamoch. I love your fellow man as yourself. This rabbi and this Rebbiht's in a treating the children of this gay couple exactly how they want their children treated at whatever Yeshiva they go to.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, I think that's and so it's not all horrible, it's not no, it's definitely not all horrible, and I always want to make sure to not overplay, to not over emphasize how amazing it is for Orthodox youth specifically, because for the majority of them it's actually not amazing, and so that is. I mean, I wish that every synagogue, every school, every camp were to be saying things like that, and also I think that, unfortunately, we're still at a point where that's the exception and not the rule, and I also it's also interesting it's sort of a select people who have you to perform. It means that they, I mean, I think tell me if I'm wrong that they've reached out to you to be performing for them and you already represent some kind of diversity to them. Yes, I mean.

Leo:

I don't know that's changing rapidly, I think.

Modi:

What do you mean?

Rachael Fried:

I'm not sure you are an out person who is performing Jewish comedy, and so that is like you're being invited. They already know that right.

Periel:

They're already amenable to that.

Rachael Fried:

They're already sort of accepting on some level, as opposed to the youth who are obviously these are. We're comparing apples and cats.

Modi:

I consider myself very youthful. Okay, great, I do too, let's not?

Rachael Fried:

But so those, the schools are actually not as welcoming as the places that invite somebody in, and it's a complicated thing. So, yes, it is super like we have really come far in orthodoxy in many, many places, and even in the more right wing places, the fact that, like they know that gay people exist, that, like LGBTQ people are a thing, and even when they fight against it, the fact that they're acknowledging that it's real is yes, why you?

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, and so it's. I just don't want to paint a picture that's too rosy, but I also don't want to bash orthodoxy, because I and I think that there's like it's come a long way and there's a lot more to be done.

Periel:

Yeah, the thing that's unbelievable is like this was the worst thing in the world, like 50, 60 years ago. The fact that there are, like in New York, 10, 13 year old kids who have parents that are like probably my age, who are still like operating with these blinders on, is so terrifying.

Modi:

Listen, I see from Leo. I see the parent has to choose. Do I want to be a parent, do I want my child or do I want God, or whatever horrendous view they have of what God is? Because it's not because. What is God? It's oneness. God is Shema Esra'al. There's not a hindana yachad, here is your DeLore. God, the Lord is one. It's not this one God saying your kid's gay, he's going to die in hell. It's oneness being one with your child and the parent doesn't choose the parent's losing a, a child.

Modi:

Could you imagine giving birth nine months, the whole you're carrying it you raise it and you this and that, and then you decide I don't want it because it doesn't believe in the same God I believe in.

Rachael Fried:

No, it's insane. I'm always skeptical of people who feel like they can put feelings into God's mouth on behalf of God, about specific people.

Modi:

It's horrible when people say and so what God wants is how dare you, you know how to speak for God. You've no idea. God is oneness. It's not what God wants, it's not a person, it's a oneness, it's an energy.

Periel:

So have you seen parents come around? Like if you've seen parents come around, let's just go to the success stories.

Modi:

That's what.

Periel:

I want to hear.

Rachael Fried:

Okay, before that just a quick, and then I'll go to the success stories. But I think that with the current politics today, there is sort of a movement of we'll call them, like Fox News, Jews that are of God, don't start nail-blocking now.

Leo:

It's not really religion.

Modi:

We found the title. At least they found the title for the episode, that's right he said Fox News Jews. By all means take it.

Rachael Fried:

I think I mean there is this movement of like we believe in this thing, but really like where? What text says that in Orthodoxy? Where does the Torah say that? And you have the rabbi said it's like you got on board with this type of it's politics. Not halacha, not Torah, you got on board with it and you were like no, this is what religious people think now and they really believe it. And I feel very strongly that that's not. I actually feel strongly that that is a form of assimilation that people are not willing to admit because it's the right being assimilated.

Periel:

Well, they've been totally indoctrinated. I agree with you. Yeah, They've been totally indoctrinated.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, and they're assimilated into society and they think that they're the holy religious ones, but really they're the assimilated ones. That's my opinion, but I see like more and more the radical, like the comments that we get and the hate emails that we get. They're more and more extreme now than they were 10 years ago when I started getting involved in JQI, and the amount of time that's also because of access to be extreme.

Modi:

They have access, they can hit you up on Twitter, they can hit you up on back in the day they had to write you a letter. I don't like what you're doing.

Rachael Fried:

Send you a letter to the mail post, but we've been told recently, like in the past three months, the amount of times that we've been told that we're gonna burn in hell is like. First of all, it's not a very Jewish thing.

Periel:

Yeah, I was just gonna ask is there a hell.

Modi:

You choose to believe in hell. No, there is no hell.

Rachael Fried:

There is no hell, there's like a question what is the whatever world to come? But burning in hell is not, I will handle this question.

Modi:

Oh, here comes Rabbi Modi. There's no hell.

Periel:

Okay.

Modi:

You have a tycoon. Okay, you come back as somebody else. The goal is to finish your entire tycoon. Now Bring Mashiach energy and you do not have to come back here. You get to go to Olam Haba, to an amazing heaven.

Periel:

Okay, and what if you don't?

Modi:

If you don't finish your tycoon, you come back as as whatever. You need to correct that whatever problems you had with whoever you had in this life, now that you don't take care of you might have to come back and re-handle that.

Periel:

So I'm going to have to get married again? I don't know.

Modi:

Periel. I don't know, Maybe you might have to marry someone whose tycoon was your sister and then you have to make it up with them or something. There's a whole world. But relax with the hell, it's just coming back. But avoid coming back. Bring Mashiach energy now, and so you don't have to come back. You can go to Olam Haba.

Periel:

So you don't want to come back? The goal is not to come back.

Modi:

The goal is not to come back. The goal is to go to Olam Haba, that is. Am I right or wrong? Are you with me on this a little?

Rachael Fried:

bit. Is this a Cabello thing?

Modi:

It's not, not Cabello, yeah, but that's Judaism.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, but I think there are different. I've heard different opinions on this, but none of them include burning in hell? No, that's the point.

Modi:

This is the one I'm sticking with yeah, I'm on board. I'm on board If it works for you take it, I'm on board with you Just every day, whatever you go through. Think, is this something I'm going to have to take care of in the next lifetime?

Periel:

Yeah, I love that what is going on?

Modi:

Like Leo handles all the emails right away. I want nothing in my inbox To do less done, but I truly believe that.

Periel:

What is going on in Olam Haba?

Modi:

I don't know, I don't know. I'm not there yet. I'm working on getting there.

Periel:

But it sounds. Is there a protostore?

Modi:

Is there a protostore? I bet it's all, but it's all fabulous, but that's.

Leo:

Maya, we're going to talk about success stories. Okay, success stories. Anyway, the point of that.

Rachael Fried:

Just to wrap up. The point of that was that it's not only orthodoxy, there's a movement of going to the right. It's a complicated thing.

Modi:

No, explain what it means.

Rachael Fried:

That there are orthodox Jews who aren't even so religious or so observant, but have this Fox News-y vibe and say that it's Torah values, which is I don't know, so then they jump on.

Periel:

Yeah, they're on board with.

Modi:

Yeah, it's a lot to do also with Israel and Israel's politics. It's not an easy. Fox News Jews is not an easy.

Leo:

Demographic to dissect? Thank you, definitely not. It's complex.

Rachael Fried:

And it's also not a denomination, it's a political thing. It's mixing the two, which I think is really complicated.

Periel:

But these people have also been emboldened by the more recent administration. These opinions were not so out in the open. People did not feel that comfortable saying that you're going to hell before this political movement of the past five-ish years, right when suddenly it was okay to say those things.

Modi:

I.

Periel:

I'm trying not to say Donald Trump, but that's what I'm saying. Like that became, I don't think it. There's a divide.

Rachael Fried:

Whether it's Trump or not, there's a divide between it's like the streams now, right, but that was. It's like it's like in hell or you're like it's a little bit like COVID, they chose a side Right. Vaccine, no vaccines.

Modi:

Now it's the, they, them, the and the pronouns. Now that's another new issue we can fight about and take sides and make a mess out of.

Rachael Fried:

That is. Yeah, that's one of them, but also, but Orthodoxy sort of trails behind society in like, I would say, by like 10 or 15 years. So Orthodoxy is still having the conversation of like, okay, fine, gay people are here, but Right, they'll get to pronouns in like 10 years Right pronouns is not really full. I mean there is. They're trailing behind in that conversation.

Periel:

And it's like Israel with fashion, it's okay, yeah, kind of, that's fine, that's fine.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, so yeah. Anyway, I think it's like it's interesting that the politics mixed with religion, and how much of a mess that gets, you must be an angel.

Periel:

I mean the nightmare that you must deal with of some of these people.

Modi:

Oh, but she's working on her own ha-ba.

Rachael Fried:

Well okay, our whole thing is like, yes, we deal with these really heavy topics and complicated, difficult things. And also, when you come to JQI, you see like neon beanbag chairs and fuzzy carpets that are also neon, Like everything is. So we're just like bright and colorful and happy and fun. Right, our vibe is like you come here, you belong, and not only do you belong but you will thrive here, and we have snacks here that are we try to make the snacks like olam ha-ba, like you said. Right, Like we want it to be known that when you come here, you don't just get like the Kirkland brand stuff Right we are like everything you do here is for you.

Modi:

No, the snacks are more important thing I'm there for the snacks.

Leo:

It is everything is like.

Modi:

I envisioned it like that.

Leo:

Can we sponsor some snacks?

Modi:

Yes, now hold on. When I envisioned like this, the drop, I knew it wasn't gonna be like a stable Like you know like a little synagogue with the two sides and the auron and the Torah and some riceman cakes in the package, like they could survive a nuclear war you said you did not imagine.

Rachael Fried:

This.

Modi:

I pictured it a fuzzy, yummy, rainbowy.

Rachael Fried:

yeah, yeah, that is what it's like, and it's like everything Is there somebody whose job is to be in charge of the snacks? Yes, there is, and she has this like olam ha-ba snacks. That's what we call it, jack.

Modi:

Leibold told me the owner of Second Avenue, daly. He says to me he told me synagogues don't close down because there's no money. Synagogues close down because there's no membership and there's no lunch. That's why you have to make sure they have what to eat afterwards. Leo and I sponsor Kiddish a lot in our synagogue and it's so important.

Periel:

It really is. It's so important, Especially with the Jews you really have to feed them? Yeah Well, it's not only about the food.

Rachael Fried:

But that is an example of like we make things like extra amazing for these youth.

Periel:

And so what's your?

Rachael Fried:

hot, your hot, hotest snack. This, oh hotest snack Dunkaroos, I think is like a big one. We brought them. I mean, we didn't bring them back. Whatever brand made them, brought them back.

Leo:

And we were like we're gonna have Dunkaroos. What's Dunkaroos? There's like these little you like, dip them in like cake icing, these like little cookies.

Rachael Fried:

You gotta come to the drop-in center.

Periel:

Wow, you were right on that, Leo Listen everyone look at me.

Leo:

I know my snacks.

Modi:

Okay, I'll mess around with this thing, so give us some success though.

Rachael Fried:

Okay, so that's just in general. Like we are like happy, fun vibes. You walk in and you are like celebrated immediately. Some success stories. I mean we have people who have come to JQI like terrified, walking in circles around the block not wanting to come in, and now they're like thriving leaders of the community and everyone is like they're like the regulars that people really look up to and they're the ones who show other people the ropes. And then there are people where like it's actually a success story if somebody comes to JQI and then sort of stops coming slowly One time we had, because that means that they've built their community and they no longer need it, and so that's also. It's a hard way to measure success.

Modi:

And when they say build their community, it's their circle of friends, a family. They've built their family and it's not wife, husband, kids, aunts, it's their friends that they vibe with. They're a chosen family that they make kiddish with Friday night and they eat and they make food and they get together. They've. That's the success. Leaving the center, leaving the that's a success story.

Rachael Fried:

That is a form of success. One time we had an event and the attendance was like not super great, it was like a-.

Leo:

I imagine it must be hard to like get. It's hard to get people to show up to any in person.

Rachael Fried:

Well, we have. We have like 60 people every week at the drop in center.

Modi:

That's amazing how many 50. That walking throughout the week. It's on Thursday nights, so Thursday nights with 50 people Wow, that's a lot.

Rachael Fried:

It's a lot of people. We might have to get a new space soon.

Modi:

God willing.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, it's a great problem to have. Where is the center? Just so Times Square. So in between Times Square and Bryant Park we should go one day. We should go. Yeah, you totally should come.

Modi:

What's the address? I'll tell you offline. Okay, okay, okay, okay.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah it's, you should definitely come. Okay, you'll give you Dunkaroos. You'll sit in fuzzy bean bags. My not to.

Leo:

I hate to even bring this word up, but like I feel like I want to address it just because it's so in the news lately. Like back to what you said about these giving credit to those parents who came in and were like, hey, what's your deal, what are you doing here? But they also asked what your agenda is. I think that's a very loaded thing that people approach this topic with, because they think that anyone who's offering support or just like a soft place to land for these kids is like grooming them.

Leo:

And there's this idea that if you are gay or queer or LGBTQ, whatever, you have to be miserable, alone in silence and that's, and we don't want to hear about it, and anyone else who's offering you any sort of support or just a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on or a place to eat Dunkaroos, is somehow grooming you and making you gayer or like enforcing your gayness in some way. And if there's one thing I can communicate to someone listening to this who's like I don't know how I feel about this, is that that's not a thing, Like it's not how it works.

Periel:

It's not possible.

Rachael Fried:

It's not how it works we talk about. This question comes up all the time when talking to Orthodox rabbis of like, well, what if there's a kid who's on the fence? And what they mean by that is like this kid they might be gay, but maybe they're not. And if we acknowledge that queer people exist, then they're definitely gonna go to the one side of the fence. It is so crazy that people still think that way.

Rachael Fried:

The way that I reframe it is like actually there are people that are on fences but you have the sides wrong. Like what they're on the fence about is whether they stay part of this community or not. Of the two things that they can, of the things they can choose. They can't choose whether they're queer or not queer. You being nice to them or mean to them is not gonna make them gay or not gay right, anything else, but what?

Rachael Fried:

it might do is like you being mean to someone might make them wanna not be part of your community.

Leo:

That's a great answer.

Rachael Fried:

They make them wanna be not Orthodox, and if you're nice to them and welcoming to them, then probably they're more likely to be on the side of the fence that wants to be part of your community.

Periel:

This to me seems like the most basic, straightforward, simple thing to understand. Because if you talk to a straight person and you say I'm going to turn you gay, any straight person is gonna be like, well, that's impossible. So how is it difficult to understand that it's the same thing on the other side you can't turn somebody gay anymore, you can't turn somebody. I mean it's insane. You can't give somebody Dunkaroos and suddenly they wanna like. The Dunkaroos made me gay I mean they have little rainbow bucks in the frosting.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah definitely, but I think to what you were saying a lot of people are afraid or are very anti-JQI, not because of even if they don't know anything about it, the fact that we are an organized group that has a logo and funding means that we must be. This agenda must be happening, as opposed to. You could be gay, but, like you said, alone and by yourself, and not official.

Leo:

And just don't ask. Don't tell we don't wanna hear about it, we don't wanna look at it, we don't wanna talk about it.

Rachael Fried:

So there's always excuses. Why don't they like JQI? There's an agenda at JQI. The Hasidish parents said we know your agenda is to have our kids rebel against us and we were like well, your kids are teenagers and they're gonna rebel a little bit and you're not being like. Perhaps they don't feel like you're being nice to them. Also, they're teenagers. They're unreliable narrators. Sometimes we don't know what's going on in the home. But we would never say and you should leave your, you should cut off all ties with your family.

Rachael Fried:

Because, probably that's not the best youth, it's not the best for the kid.

Leo:

Yeah, the most disheartening thing I've really kind of absorbed is that how so many people in the community think that being gay and being Jewish are two mutually exclusive things and you cannot be both, and that's been the hardest thing for me to swallow in reading these comments and DMs and blog posts about our personal life and people hinting that perhaps our marriage is for tax reasons.

Modi:

It's just Well, that was that podcast.

Leo:

Well he's disgusting and you should hope I'm never in the same room with him. But yeah it's Same work now.

Modi:

It's really it's frustrating, again, again again.

Periel:

Is it taxes better if you're single?

Modi:

Again, no, no.

Rachael Fried:

Well, so we have an initiative. Thank God you have Guy.

Modi:

Oh my God, thank God you're married to Guy.

Rachael Fried:

We have this new initiative that's called Share your Simcha, and the reason for it is like people have a Simcha, a happy occasion, some kind of milestone event, and maybe they would want to invite the JQI participants to join. But that's kind of not practical. You're not gonna have the JQI teens invited to everybody's queer wedding or it's like that's expensive and also who wants a bunch of teenage strangers coming to their event? But that doesn't mean that we can't celebrate those what we're called queer Simchas, with the community. So Share your Simcha is this new initiative of like do you have a Simcha and do you want to share it with the JQI community? Let's figure out a way to sort of recreate it or to make an event that is.

Rachael Fried:

That's so sweet yeah, that is related to your Simcha and invite our JQI teens to come and participate in it.

Rachael Fried:

And part of that. The reason for it is the tagline is celebrate queer Simcha sorry, Celebrate queer Simcha today, Celebrate Jewish queerness today and envision a queer Jewish tomorrow, so that the idea is like now you have to celebrate this now, which most teenagers don't get to celebrate, like a queer happy occasion, and then they can envision some kind of potential life for themselves. Right? So this is an Orthodox couple that got married and they're both wearing white dresses with three-quarter length sleeves. Right, that's like one potential future. This is. There's a million different, I'm not gonna list all the types Three-quarter length sleeves is amazing.

Periel:

Well, that was a specific example that happened recently.

Rachael Fried:

Yes, but so just all, so that our participants can see queer youth can see look at all these things that are available, like look at all these potential options.

Periel:

Right representation is important.

Rachael Fried:

So we have this new thing and we've had a few events so far. We actually have one this week. Someone had someone's KTVL media channel, ktvlrep compute team a lesbian couple there, kid had an up-sharing which is like a haircut at age three celebration, and so it already happened.

Rachael Fried:

We weren't gonna invite all the JQI kids to it, but we're recreating this whole thing. On Wednesday night we're having this big Simcha there. But through this initiative we've heard people say like I've never seen this before and now I can envision some kind of future for myself. Or one person said to me now I know that no matter what gender I marry, at least some people will come to my wedding.

Rachael Fried:

Oh, my God, and so this idea of you can't picture a future. You don't really. You don't have this happiness in this way right, a lot of times the queerness is like so heavy, don't say this, your sibling's not gonna get a shodok you're like all of these complicated things. And if we can say but look at this celebration, come celebrate.

Periel:

It's really amazing, that's amazing, that's amazing.

Leo:

You're saving lives, truly Saving lives, 100%.

Periel:

Wait, I still wanna hear a story of some nightmare parents that turned it around Nightmare parents Because it really, when I hear stories like that, it really gives me hope that it's possible to reach some of these people.

Rachael Fried:

It is. Yeah. Well, there's an organization called Ashelle.

Periel:

You're like I don't have any.

Rachael Fried:

Ashelle works with parents of LGBTQ youth, and so they probably have more parent stories specifically. We actually purposely don't do parent work because we want the kids to think like we want them to know we have your back. Only Sometimes it can feel like there's an agenda you're trying right.

Rachael Fried:

They also think there's an agenda. You're trying. You want my parents to think of this and they're talking to you Like we. Actually we do have family consultations with our psychologists if somebody wants. But if a kid wants and says I want my parents to come and do this, but otherwise we purposely don't do that, that's interesting and it's yeah, it is. There are many. There are a few things we don't do. We don't have opinions on Halacha or any kind of like. We are a mental health organization. We don't have that's not in our wheelhouse. I personally have a lot of opinions, but that's not JQI and we don't work. We work with these youth individually.

Modi:

That's like. That's who our kids are. The Halachas bring Mashiach, that's all. The Halachas is Whatever you're doing, do it to bring Mashiach, that's all it is.

Rachael Fried:

You can come to the drop-in center and talk about it.

Modi:

I will puskin in your center that all you have to do is reveal Mashiach.

Leo:

Amazing.

Modi:

Whether it's by lighting candles, putting on fillin, being nice to somebody. That's all. That's your purpose as a Jew, that's your purpose as a Jew period. That's it. If you want to learn a blood of Gomorrah and Talmud and that's going to make you a better person, do it. If you're going to do it to tell somebody else I learned this today and you didn't not Mashiach energy. So Halacha wise. If you need one Halacha to work with in the center, that's what it is.

Rachael Fried:

Yes, amazing, bring Mashiach. I mean we have people who come from very, very ultra-Orthodox homes and people from modern Orthodox homes and people from Sfardim-e-Zorakhly homes, people from Russian speaking homes, all kinds of people who come from all different kinds of communities, and we say we have no, we don't take any stances politically or halachically or anything, because we want to make sure that every person from every type of community feels like they have a place here and this place is meant for them, regardless of their opinion.

Modi:

So we say, yeah, one of the things that was in that 20, in that list of 20 things, that outdated list from 2013,. One thing that was right was, whether you do think it's genetic that you're gay, or it's environmental, whatever it is, you still have to treat that person with human dignity. That's one of the most important things. It's you have to treat with human dignity.

Modi:

I mean the bar's low honey and when you say and when you say you're saying it, you're throwing them out, whether the kid comes from a Sfardik home or a Chassid. There's so much baggage that comes in there, like a child coming from a Syrian home. Do you know the intensity of that With the family? And they have to buy a house next door to the mother and it's in, in, in in her. You know there's a lot. There's a lot. You're doing real Meshih energy work.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah thank you. I just wanted to say I'm not bashing the statement of principles. I just want to put that out there. No, we're not bashing. It was a big deal in the time in its time when people signed it. It was. They were really putting themselves out there to sign it, and I would love to see a more modern version of it.

Periel:

Well, maybe you should get right on that.

Rachael Fried:

Well, next? Yeah, I'll put it on my to-do list.

Modi:

I don't, you don't need again, I don't. I never think you need lists like that when there's one thing that you need to do and that's that's Sometimes people need lists.

Rachael Fried:

Sometimes you get, they don't know how to do the ones you need to have food feed it for people, unfortunately.

Modi:

How can, how can anybody listening to this help the center and help you and help all these amazing kids?

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, I think there are so many different things, but I mean, one thing is just like be proactively supportive in some way, which is again like I said before it's hard for people who come from these communities to know, to feel like this place.

Rachael Fried:

They're not gonna know that someone is accepting or welcoming or that it's okay for them to come out unless somebody says it, and so if you don't say it and saying it could be something so tiny like it could be, it could be a tiny rainbow sticker that's the size of a button right, and to me that feels I describe that as like. To me it feels like finding a Mizzaza in Mobile Alabama.

Rachael Fried:

Right, like I never felt like I was so unwelcome there fully, but I didn't think that if I said this part and now I see that there's this little sign here and probably nobody else will see this- Mizzaza, that's amazing. You're so right Most people won't see it and won't notice anything about it. But the people who do need to see it will see it and they'll be like oh, this is the place for me and my people. That's great. I love that.

Modi:

I love that too. It's an amazing yeah so that's one thing. And then like I mean definitely feel free to support JQI. How can they? What's the website About jqiorg?

Rachael Fried:

JQIorg.

Periel:

JQIorg.

Modi:

JQIorg. Yes, yes, yes, that's what I'm doing.

Periel:

JQIorg yes, Jewish Career.

Rachael Fried:

Youth is what? Yes, and so that's definitely one way. I mean just support outwardly, whether it's via funds and you wanna make a donation. And, by the way, there's this interesting thing of I forgot who says that giving Tadaka private, like with an anonymous name, is actually a higher level of giving. But I always say that in JQI, giving with your name, like explicitly with your name, is like the highest level because that's the thing, like don't give anonymously to JQI Natura's written that when you give anonymously to hire.

Periel:

I'm gonna add. That's actually one thing I know Anonymous is there's a story about-. There's a curb of your enthusiasm.

Modi:

Oh was it.

Periel:

Episode about anonymous yeah.

Modi:

There's one joke that I always love. You know, in the synagogue before Yom Kippur, before they do the Komenidre service, they do they raise money because now they got people are scared of being. You know, here am I gonna be in the Book of.

Modi:

Life or Death. So they do so. They had these little cards and people read their name Schwartz family, $1,800,. Deberckowitz family, $3,600, and then they have a few that say anonymous $300 from anonymous. And then someone raises their hand Steve Berckowitz from Berckowitz plumbing and lighting supplies, $1,800, anonymous. And so that's so. You're right, put your name down.

Rachael Fried:

Let them know that you support yeah put your name, just yeah and honestly, if you know anyone, tell people about the resources that exist.

Modi:

Yes.

Rachael Fried:

Like that. You know there is JQI, there's Eshel, if you're for parents, and there are many resources that exist. Don't be the one who says like I support you, but I don't know if anyone else is gonna be. Don't make yourself into an island.

Leo:

That's homophobia.

Rachael Fried:

Yeah, the island of support thing.

Leo:

The silent support is homophobia, because you're scared of what other people are gonna think of you for supporting those people.

Rachael Fried:

Yes. So instead, like amplify right, amplify the support that exists and be vocal about it.

Leo:

Can I do the upcoming shows, please, please, okay. At the end of this month, july 30th Modi at Sony Hall in New York City. That sold out. August 8th the chosen comedy festival at the Coney Island Amphitheater. If you use the promo code MODY10, you'll get 10% off. That's August 8th. Modi in Baltimore, august 24th the 730 show is sold out and we added a 930 show. Then you have shows in Berlin, September 11th and 12th. I believe there's still tickets available for the September 11th show.

Periel:

That's September 11th.

Leo:

Well, we have to talk about Crystal Nakh, but that's another podcast. Then you're in Israel for Sukkot. Tel Aviv, jerusalem, herzliya, bed Shemesh, the Paris shows October 10, 11 and 12, those are sold out. The Brussels show on November 5th is on sale. The November 6th show in Amsterdam sold out in less than 24 hours. Then from Amsterdam we go to Frankfurt November 7th for the Frankfurt Jewish Cultural Week thing there. Then we leave Frankfurt, we come back to Amsterdam because we added another show, because it sold out so quickly On November 9th, which may or may not be Crystal Nakh, which was, I did not know. I'm sorry, it's a lot of Jewish things to work around with planning shows, but people are still buying tickets. And then we have Modi at Town Hall, which is his biggest New York City show of the year, on December 21st. Those tickets are. There's very, very few tickets left and once those are gone we might not be performing in New York for a hot minute.

Modi:

Yeah, we'll be waiting until a year.

Leo:

So get tickets to the ModiLivecom.

Modi:

Most important off the bat right now, if you're listening to this, the Chosen Comedy Festival, august 8th make sure. Last year was insane beyond Mashiach energy 4,250 people laughing, all ages, all religion, all types of Jewishness, from reform to Orthodox Chassidish it was Mashiach energy. So, august 8th, make sure you're a part of that. And all the other shows just go to ModiLivecom. Find the show near you, find the show near your friends, send it to them. Be the friend that brings the friends to the comedy show. Mashiach energy to everybody. Thank you so much, rachel for coming on today.

Rachael Fried:

You are amazing and we love you, thank you, thank you mutual.

Leo:

Bye, bye, mr Honourable.

Interview With Rachel, JQI Executive Director
Supporting LGBTQ Youth in Orthodox Communities
Orthodox Judaism and LGBTQ Acceptance
Politics and Religion
Queer Simchas and a Queer Future
Supporting JQI and Upcoming Shows