The party is back on!
A lesbian comedian’s New Year’s Eve gig is back on after rabbis appear to have backed away from pressuring multiple kosher restaurants into pulling the plug on her event or else their kosher certifications would be revoked.
Leah Forster, who communicated in depth with Gay City News about her struggle to find a kosher venue willing to host her performance alongside “Flatbush Girl” Adina Miles, said the event is again slated to be held at the original planned venue, Garden of Eat In, a kosher restaurant in Flatbush. Forster provided Gay City News with a document indicating “an agreement between Garden of Eat In and Leah Forster/ Adina Miles to host a private event.”
Chaim Kirschner, who Forster said is the owner of Garden of Eat In, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The latest development follows a whirlwind week featuring allegations of homophobia, questioning by the city Human Rights Commission, and a string of letters — one of which was derided by a rabbi as fake.
A statement circulated on social media, which showed an apparent signature by Rabbi Tzvi Shaul Goldberg and was dated December 13, stated on behalf of “The Vaad Harabinim” of Flatbush that “we publicly call upon all of our supervised restaurants, including the one in question, not to discriminate in any way against people based on sexual orientation.”
However, a subsequent statement on December 14 — which was provided to Gay City News by the Vaad Harabanim — called the previous letter “a forgery and was not issued by the Vaad Harabanim. The issuance of this forgery is being reported to the office of the District Attorney of Kings County.” The statement further noted that “Harabanim” was spelled incorrectly in the first letter that surfaced.
In a written statement provided to Gay City News, Rabbi Tzvi Goldberg of the Vaad Harabanim denied all allegations that restaurants were threatened for allowing a lesbian to perform.
“At no time did the Vaad, or any representative of the Vaad, threaten to remove the Vaad’s Kashrus certification (i.e., it’s ‘religious stamp of approval’) because of the sexual orientation of a performer at a supervised restaurant,” the statement read.
When reached via phone, Goldberg refused to comment on whether or not he approves of Forster holding the New Year’s Eve event.
Forster said “something sounds corrupt” and she is not buying Goldberg’s denial of the allegations.
“No one knew The Garden of Eat In was hosting it,” she said. “I kept it quiet. He is denying that he is solely the reason the restaurant had to cancel on me.”
The statement from the Vaad Harabanim and the decision by the Garden of Eat In to again agree to host the event came just days after Forster said she was contacted by the city’s Human Rights Commission and was asked a series of questions about how her events wound up getting shelved. The Human Rights Commission did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether or not they contacted the rabbi or the restaurants involved, but earlier in the week indicated it does not comment on ongoing investigations.
During a recorded phone conversation between Forster and Goldberg, which was provided to Gay City News, Forster is heard asking, “You put it out there that you’re OK with this, so if you’re OK with this, then we can hold the event there, right?”
Goldberg responded by asking Forster to speak with his attorney and said, “I hope that you understand the position that I’m in.”
But whether the event has the blessing of any rabbis no longer appears to be an issue after the Garden of Eat In opted to again host the event — and Forster believes it is because of legal pressure.
“For me, that’s a win because I’ve been kicked down and pushed away so many times just to be me, and finally the law steps in,” she said, referring to the city’s human rights law specifying that it is illegal for places of public accommodation to discriminate based on sexual orientation.
“It doesn’t mean that ppl wont be homophobic or discriminatory in their heads and in their hearts, but they have no choice but to be afraid of the law,” she added in a final text message. “And eventually, if that fear leads to love, that would be the best thing ever.”