Jewish Orthodox gay conversion therapy group ordered to close

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — An Orthodox Jewish nonprofit that purports to help gay men become heterosexual has been ordered to close.

Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, or JONAH, must cease operations within 30 days, and refrain from therapy, counseling or treatment until that time, the New Jersey Superior Court ordered Friday. The group must liquidate its assets and dissolve as a corporate entity within six months.

As of Monday, the group’s website was still operating.

JONAH was found to be in violation of the state’s Consumer Fraud Act in a June civil trial before a jury. The lawsuit had been filed in 2012.

The three plaintiffs, who were former clients, were awarded approximately $72,000 in damages. Two were from Orthodox Jewish families, and one was Mormon.

According to the plaintiffs, JONAH claimed a success rate it could not prove and used scientifically questionable therapy methods, including cuddling, naked all-male weekend retreats in the woods, and beating effigies of their mothers.

In 2013, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a law banning licensed therapists from practicing conversion therapy in the state. The law has withstood court challenges.

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