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Excerpted and reprinted, with permission of the author, from Moment Magazine, April 2001.It is impossible to get an accurate number of gay Orthodox Jews.There is no official membership, and only a handful of people are willing to put their names on support-group lists.

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Some of these informal groups, many of which operate in secret, have been around for years.

"It’s almost a cliche," says Ashkinazy, who helped found one of the support groups.

"Every gay frum Jew who finds out about [the support networks] says, ‘I thought I was the only one.’" The three founders of the Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva Day School Alumni Association chose that name specifically to attract a gay group with an Orthodox background.

The group was publicized solely through word-of-mouth. For Chaim, then 28, walking into a room and meeting people like himself for the first time was a powerful experience. "All these people were going through the same thing.

To see that you’re not alone gives you inner strength." "I am a different person today than I was five years ago," he adds.

"I [now] know who I am." GLYDSA has a confidentiality agreement that extends to all its members.

Between 30 to 60 people show up at the group’s monthly meetings in New York City, organizers say.

Filmmaker Sandi Du Bowski, who produced and directed Trembling Before G-d, interviewed hundreds of gay frum (observant) Jews over the past few years for his movie.

And those involved in gay community outreach say there are many more out there.

In the New York area, home to the largest concentration of gay Orthodox Jews, at least four support groups have sprung up to meet their needs.

There are also a number of informal groups that meet on a monthly basis for Shabbat meals or Talmud study.

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