bad for business

Why Is Jewish Food Delivery Service Kosher.com Teaming Up With Ex-Gay Group JONAH?

Are you a Jewish recovering homosexual? Would you like kosher food delivered to your door? Then boy do we have an offer for you! Kosher.com, where customers can have some 5,000 different kosher food items sent to their homes, has teamed up with Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality for a special coupon program! Just enter “JONAH25P” at checkout and JONAH will receive a portion of the proceeds. Because Kosher.com has no problem teaming up with homophobic groups trafficking in psychological terrorism. UPDATE: The company responds. UPDATE: Kosher.com has cut ties with JONAH.

Queerty reader Jayson Littman, of the gay Jewish events outfit MyHeBro.com, tells us that after spending five years as a JONAH member before coming out (though he says he remains on good terms with their directors), he’s still on the organization’s email list — which just alerted subscribers to its deal with Kosher.com.

See, Kosher.com, like plenty of e-commerce websites, runs an affiliate program. The food site let’s non-profit groups — and, apparently, anyone else — sign up to get a cut of any sales it drives to the site. (It looks like the site’s affiliates get 7 percent of receipts.) Which is a pretty noble undertaking, except Kosher.com just admitted it’s perfectly happy to get into bed with ex-gay groups.

In a note to Kosher.com, Jayson wrote:

I was saddened to receive an email from a friend who noted that you are offering a discount (JONAH25P) and a portion of proceeds to JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality). I, myself, am a gay Jew who keeps kosher who uses kosher.com and has other friends who shop at your site as well. I am dissapointed that kosher.com who offers many kosher-keeping gay Jews the opportunity to remain kosher in an easy way (as many of us dont live in kosher-store type neighborhoods) is supporting an organization that believes we can change. I believe that the services of kosher.com should remain what it does best — offering its kosher customers the opportunity to buy kosher food and not involve itself in the gay debate. By offering this discount, you are sending a message to us of where you stand on this issue and what your beliefs are.

Oh but Jayson, you made the mistake that all of Chick-fil-A’s critics did! Just because Kosher.com does business with an anti-gay group doesn’t mean they are anti-gay themselves! (Hah.) Responding to Jayson was a one Aliza Cohn, a member of Kosher.com’s affiliate marketing team, who wrote:

We are sorry to hear that you were disturbed with our affiliation with Jonah. However ,we do not have any political agenda Anyone can join our affiliate program. Our company does not have an opinion on the matter. We will create emails for any non-profit organization that is in need of funds. If you have any further questions or concerns I can get you in touch with someone in the company.

Kosher.com, based in New York, claims it doesn’t get all politic-y, so it doesn’t take an organization’s platform into account when deciding who gets to be an affiliate. OH REALLY! So if organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week wanted to team up, they could? How about the White Aryan Resistance? Or maybe the Institute for Historical Review, which has links to neo-Nazi groups and spews Holocaust denial rhetoric? All technically could qualify as a “non-profit organization that is in need of funds.” And if that’s Kosher.com’s only criteria for becoming an affiliate, then yes, they are admitting they are willing to do business with hate groups. (We reached out to Ms. Cohn about her email comments, and she responds in an email she’s “just an employee at kosher.com” and directed us to her manager; we’ll let you know what we hear. Update: See response below.)

Unsatisfied, Jayson responded:

Thanks for your speedy response. I am sure that non-profit organizations that spread hateful messages about Jewish people wouldnt be considered for the kosher.com affiliate program and I would assume that kosher.com has the social responsibility to investigate organizations that ir partners with and would not just affiliate themselves with “any non-profit organization that is in need of funds”. By allowing JONAH to be a part of your affiliate program, you are becoming part of the “political agenda” as many of your clients believe that JONAH is an organization that promotes non-acceptance of gay Jews within the religious or non-religious community.

Now why is letting the New Jersey-based JONAH siphon off some of your receipts such a big deal? Because despite it’s carefully worded mission statement — “a non-profit international organization dedicated to educating the world-wide Jewish community about the social, cultural and emotional factors which lead to same-sex attractions. JONAH works directly with those struggling with unwanted same-sex sexual attractions (SSA) and with families whose loved ones are involved in homosexuality” — JONAH is, like Exodus International, focused wholly on “converting” gay Jews to straight Jews, because somehow heterosexuality is the only way not to offend god or something. Co-founders Arthur Abba Goldberg (pictured) and Elaine Silodor Berk claim they can “help those seeking a choice to leave the homosexual lifestyle.” What they really do is force gay people to deny their true selves and help destroy identities and families.

But why would Kosher.com care about any of that? Like Target, it’s not about “political agendas,” but dolla dolla bills. Hmmm. Then maybe Kosher.com will care about JONAH counselor Alan Downing’s special techniques for turning gays straight, like having men “mentally masturbate” over Skype while he watches? Or maybe they’d be interested to know JOHAN co-founder Goldberg was convicted of defrauding the federal government in a bond scheme, as well as mail and wire fraud?

Goldberg believes “people are not born gay,” and in taking advantage of business ties for his personal benefit.

Happy Passover!

UPDATE: Kosher.com’s director of sales Michael Wosk responds:

As a private organization Kosher.com reserves all rights to affiliate with any and all third parties without incorporating said parties views. Kosher.com does not hold any views political or otherwise. Any issues should be forwarded to the affiliate in question. All further emails regarding this matter will be deemed answered by said response. We apologize for the misunderstanding and we hope this will not effect any future business with our company.

Something tells me this will affect future business with your company. But not from me. I eat pork.

UPDATE: Kosher.com has cut ties with JONAH. Read the update here