A New Jersey kosher bakery is facing backlash from the local Jewish community after canceling two LGBT-themed orders from a local synagogue requesting rainbow-colored cake and cookies for a Pride Shabbat celebration.
The Congregation B'nai Israel in Millburn celebrates pride month each year, a time in June that holds significance for supporters of the LGBT movement. While the West Orange Bake Shop co-owner Yitzy Mittel fulfilled an order for a similarly-themed cake last year, the task made him uncomfortable, and he declined to make the pride-themed goods this year.
As The Jewish Telegraph Agency reported Thursday, Mittel believes that LGBT symbols are "a celebration of something which is against Torah," adding that he "didn't want to be making that cake."
Instead of creating the pride-themed goods for the synagogue, the bakery owner referred them to another store that would sell them kosher LGBT desserts. Mittel insisted that he provided notification within 24 hours that he had canceled the orders.
"There's other bakeries out there that will do it," he said. "Why should I?"
The Jewish baker denied that he was homophobic, stressing that he would not write "I hate gay people" on a cake, even for a significant amount of money. Mittel noted that "[s]ymbols carry a lot of weight."
According to New Jersey Jewish News, Rabbi Julie Schwarzwald, the director of congregational learning at the synagogue, learned the bakery canceled the rainbow cake and 10 cookies when she went to pick them up.
In a statement to JTA, Mittel said he chose not to engage her because the rabbi came to the bakery during peak hours and "wanted to create a scene."
"I was comfortable drawing conclusions that meant that I was going to take my purchasing elsewhere," Schwarzwald told the New Jersey Jewish News. "It seems clear that the bakery has made the decision that pride is not something they want to support. It's their choice, it's their legal right, and I can choose to spend my dollars wherever I want."
She ultimately fulfilled the orders at a different kosher bakery in West Orange.
The West Orange Bake Shop and the Congregation B'nai Israel did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment.
According to The Times of Israel, multiple rabbis accused the bakery of bigotry, while some local Jewish community members are boycotting the shop. Additionally, a Jewish LGBT advocacy organization launched an "ally training" program in West Orange in response to the bakery's refusal.
Robert Tobin, rabbi of the Conservative B'nai Shalom in West Orange, stressed in a June 22 blog that the Torah holds "humans are created in the image of God with a variety of potential gender identities and with the possibility of gender fluidity."
"The concept of 'pride' in anything as a virtue may contradict 'humility' but given the gross historical oppression of the LGBTQ+ communities by our religious and our social authorities over time, the embrace of 'Pride' is a reasonable over-correction to assert the positive value of each human being," Tobin argued.
While some Jewish communities are affirming of LGBT lifestyles, others are not, as there are specific passages in the Torah that forbid gay sex.
Most recently, the Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva University cited its religious beliefs amid a legal battle over its refusal to recognize an LGBT student group called YU Pride Alliance.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a lower court decision against a Christian bakery couple, Aaron and Melissa Klein, who declined to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.
The court sent the case back to the Court of Appeals of Oregon for consideration in light of its June ruling in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis. In a 6-3 ruling, the high court determined that the state of Colorado could not compel graphic designer Lorie Smith to create a website for a same-sex wedding.
"Under Colorado's logic, the government may compel anyone who speaks for pay on a given topic to accept all commissions on that same topic — no matter the underlying message — if the topic somehow implicates a customer's statutorily protected trait," Justice Neil Gorsuch, who authored the court's opinion, wrote.
"Equally, the government could force a male website designer married to another man to design websites for an organization that advocates against same-sex marriage. ... As our precedents recognize, the First Amendment tolerates none of that."
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett joined Gorsuch in his decision. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Elana Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson filed a dissenting opinion.