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Settling Down

In the documentary DevOUT, gay Jews struggle to reconcile their faith with their sexuality while raising families within the Orthodox world

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Chani Getter, in DevOUT.(Courtesy: Neshama Productions)

Chani Getter was married off by her ultra-Orthodox family when she was 17. By the time she was 24, she had three children. She was deeply religious and deeply unhappy. She knew she was gay and could not stay in her marriage, but she also knew that she wanted to stay within the ultra-Orthodox community and raise an observant family. She is one of seven women (including a male-to-female transsexual) profiled in DevOUT, a new documentary produced and directed by Diana Neille and Sana Gulzar. Each of the women in the film is attempting to follow the strictures of Orthodoxy while embracing a sexual identity that the religious tradition has labeled an abomination.

This film is not covering entirely new turf. In 2001, Sandi Dubowski’s Trembling Before G-d also profiled gay Orthodox men and women. But DevOUT’s subjects are are settling down, raising families, and forcing their communities to come to terms with their existence, with varying degrees of success.

Neille, from South Africa, and Gulzar, from Pakistan, made the film while master’s students at the Columbia University School of Journalism. Neille spoke to Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry from her home in Johannesburg, about the movie, the difficulties their subjects have faced, and how these two non-Jewish, straight women made such a powerful film on such a sensitive topic. [Running time: 18:13.] 

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Elias Lieberman says:

Kudos to Tablet for bringing this film to our attention. I hope to be able to view it. However, your use of the term “sexual lifestyle” is inappropriate in the extreme. One’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity are not “lifestyle” choices; they strike to the core of personal identity and who one knows oneself to be on a most fundamental level.

You make a good point, Elias, and we’ve changed the text to reflect that. Thanks.

I really, really enjoyed listening to this Podcast. It was beautifully done and very sensitive. Sarah Neille is a great interviewee.

Where can I see the film?

George Samuels says:

In my “book”, important in Judaism is love, faith, and good Jewish cooking. After that, when you think about it, everything else is a mishigoss.

ben Dish says:

Thank you.

Hershl says:

Great sample.

I would love to see this film.

Say, maybe someone should make a documentary about heterosexuals in the Orthodox world.


This is a freak show. Why give so much attention to such a small and marginal group?

a very intresting article well done VOX tablet

Jo, it is by no means a small or marginal group. The congregation at Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan, a single Synagogue that accommodates the LGBTQ community, numbers in the thousands.There are tons of online communities that have hundreds of members in New York alone. Just because it doesn’t affect you, doesn’t mean this issue doesn’t exist.

ben Dish says:

are you calling 10%-15% of the worlds population a “freak show” ?
How old are you?
Are you not ashamed to write this?

alan sutel says:

I own Trembling before G-D, and other Isreali movies. It is wonderful to hear about gay Jewish people,and to see these things ona Jewish website.

Thank you for this! I had the opportunity to meet Chani last year at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. She sat on a panel of other Lesbian Orthodox Jewish woman and the main message I took away is that they’re deeply committed to their faith, and would like for that faith to have room for them as well.

Kudos for bringing this very real struggle to light. I’m a lesbian Jewish woman and thankfully have an amazing and open community. Some people aren’t as fortunate.

Where can I see this movie?

For those interested in seeing the film, Diana says at the end of the interview that they’ll be submitting it to festivals in January. Stay tuned for updates on screenings.

sjenitzer says:

very interesting! would love to be able to see devOUT. love your deep and thorough presentation . regards shifra

To those who produced Devout I just want to express how touched I am that you chose to give a voice to us, the silent lesbians in the ultra orthodox community who suffer silently because of our sexuality. I live in the UK and feel extremely isolated in my struggle. I have turned to Chani Getter on numerous occassions for inspiration and support which she has given me a tremendous amount of. How can I get to see the film in London?

helen day says:


Very informative article, keep it up


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Settling Down

In the documentary DevOUT, gay Jews struggle to reconcile their faith with their sexuality while raising families within the Orthodox world

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