Ben Unger and Chaim Levin grew up in Orthodox Jewish homes in Brooklyn. They lived in traditional, socially conservative homes and tried to live up to the expectations of their faith and families.
They were gay, however, and were told they had to choose between being gay and Jewish – as if this were truly possible.
In a desperate search for “help”, Ben and Chaim found the “ex-gay” organization Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH). This was the discredited organization founded by Wall Street con artist Arthur Abba Goldberg, who went to prison for massive bond fraud.
Goldberg promised to “cure” both men of their homosexuality and make them straight. He recommended that Ben and Chaim have therapy sessions with Alan Downing, a “life coach” who often conducted his practice out of JONAH’s headquarters. Downing is also a senior trainer for the controversial “ex-gay” outdoor retreat, Journey Into Manhood, which is run by the organization, People Can Change.
While Ben and Chaim were in “therapy”, Downing admitted that he was still attracted to men. In time, the sessions devolved into a “psychological striptease”, where the men were asked to strip completely named and touch themselves.
Both Ben and Chaim say they were harmed by the therapy and consider Downing’s actions highly unprofessional, unethical and inappropriate.
Unfortunately, groups like JONAH and People Can Change often place vulnerable people in the hands of unqualified, unhealthy “life coaches” and counselors who are struggling to accept their own repressed sexual orientation. This creates disastrous situations where unhealthy, predatory behavior can occur.
Fortunately, Ben and Chaim have come to accept themselves and now live as out, proud openly gay men. They warn Jewish LGBT youth to avoid fraudulent scams like JONAH and accept themselves.
UPDATE: Truth Wins Out and South Florida Gay News discovered that JONAH’s founder Arthur Abba Goldberg was a secret convicted felon con artist who bilked poor communities.
UPDATE 2: JONAH is history. It all started with this Truth Wins Out video. Chaim Levin went on to become a key plaintiff in a landmark lawsuit brought against JONAH by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which proved that the failed “ex-gay” organization was guilty of committing consumer fraud. JONAH lost the case and was forced to shut down. Good riddance.
UPDATE 3: Alan Downing was exposed and humiliated as a sexually exploitative fraud durning the JONAH trial. For years he slithered under the radar. He has recently reemerged as a so-called “identity coach” in Provo, UT. Please avoid this creepy therapist and his nude therapy at any cost.