Susan Cohen wrote:
> "myal" <***@hotmail.com> wrote in message
>>Riain Barton/øéòéï áøúåï wrote:
>>> The Bible [Torah] does not condemn homosexuality in general
>>Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.
> It also says not to rape or commit adultery.
> IOW, it's the act, not the orientation.
> Not that you will grasp or accept the truth, or ar even capable thereof - I
> just like to post it on general principles.
Are you saying arse fucking is out , but its OK to be lusting after
it... this is acceptable for Jews ?
>>" 'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have
>>done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on
>>their own heads.
>>You were saying about the bible not condeming homosexuality ?
>>Top posting poofter .
>>>it does condemn three things: homosexual rape, the ritual prostitution
>>>that was part of the Canaanite fertility cult that was apparently, at one
>>>time, in Jewish practice as well, and homosexual lust and behavior on the
>>>part of heterosexuals.
>>> Homosexuality And Judaism
>>> Ian Silver
>>> What is Homosexuality?
>>> The American Psychological Association (1996) says as follows:
>>> Three sexual orientations are commonly recognized: homosexual,
>>>attraction to individuals of one's own gender; heterosexual, attraction
>>>to individuals of the other gender; or bisexual, attractions to members
>>>of either gender. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes
>>>referred to as gay (both men and women) or as lesbian (women only).
>>>Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to
>>>feelings and self-concept. Persons may or may not express their sexual
>>>orientation in their behaviors.
>>> It is very important to distinguish between homosexual feelings,
>>>and homosexual behaviors. Many people of both genders experiment with
>>>their sexuality during adolescence. Many gay people date persons of the
>>>opposite sex, to try to 'fit in'. Many heterosexuals will have at least
>>>one homosexual experience. This does not per se establish sexual
>>>orientation. A homosexual, then, is a person whose fundamental sexual
>>>attraction is to people of his or her own gender.
>>> Many people feel that homosexuality is an illness. The American
>>>Psychiatric Association (1996) is very clear about this:
>>> For a mental condition to be considered as a psychiatric
>>>disorder, it should either regularly cause emotional distress or
>>>regularly be associated with clinically significant impairment of social
>>>functioning. . . [Homosexuality] does not meet these criteria, [because]
>>>a significant portion of gay and lesbian people were clearly satisfied
>>>with their sexual orientation and showed no signs of psychopathology. . .
>>>[Homosexuals are] able to function effectively in society, and those who
>>>[seek psychiatric or psychological] treatment most often did so for
>>>reasons other than their homosexuality.
>>> In my counseling practice, I find that most issues relate to
>>>self-acceptance, families, peers, dating, and lack of acceptance by
>>>others. Sexual orientation does not, per se, cause these problems and
>>>they are found in all social groups. The high level of suicide,
>>>alcoholism and other forms of self-rejection amongst young homosexuals is
>>>more than likely, the internalization of society's stigmatization and
>>>rejection of the natural inclination of gay people to desire people of
>>>their own gender.
>>> There is much debate about what causes homosexuality: is it a
>>>genome, or is it environmental? Nature, or nurture? The debate is, to me,
>>>rather abstract. Realistically, it does not matter why a person is gay,
>>>for we cannot change genomes yet, and we cannot change environments ex
>>>post facto. It suffices to accept that people come to an acceptance and
>>>understanding that they are homosexual, and that this understanding is
>>> Many Orthodox Jewish sources emphasize choice in homosexuality. The
>>>assumption is that people choose to be gay. People do not choose their
>>>sexuality. In any case, who would choose to be oppressed and marginalised
>>>by society? Who would choose to be excluded from social events? Who would
>>>choose to be ridiculed, to be stigmatized, to be beaten up, to be
>>>isolated? Who would want to be forced to hide, to pretend to be what one
>>> In these ways, homosexuals are like Jews. Judaism is not something
>>>we choose, but is that which is chosen for us, by birth or by the intense
>>>beliefs which lead one to conversion. One can pretend not to be Jewish;
>>>one can 'convert' to Christianity, or live whatever lifestyle, but
>>>Judaism is what we are. To paraphrase: one can take the Jew out of
>>>Judaism, but one can never take Judaism out of the Jew. Homosexuals can,
>>>and often do, lead heterosexual lives; yet their souls, their feelings,
>>>and their desires are and always will be towards members of their own
>>> Since homosexuality is not a choice, it stands to reason that one
>>>cannot be 'recruited' to become gay or lesbian. There is much literature
>>>amongst fundamentalist Christian groups, alleging that homosexuals
>>>recruit young people to their 'lifestyle'. It is true that male
>>>prostitutes are often recruited from amongst homeless heterosexual teen
>>>males, desperate for money for food or drugs. The movie, My Own Private
>>>Idaho, includes a discussion of this very issue by the actors portraying
>>>young hustlers. The prostitutes saw themselves as heterosexual in
>>>orientation, in proportion to the general population. Beyond this
>>>specific type of recruitment, a heterosexual cannot be 'recruited' to
>>>change his/her orientation.
>>> We hear much about the so-called 'homosexual lifestyle'.
>>>Homosexuals are not stereotypical, any more than Jews are stereotypical.
>>>There are gay athletes and heterosexual dress designers. Lifestyle, then,
>>>is as varied as the 7-10% of the cross-section of the population who are
>>>predominantly or exclusively homosexual in orientation. Some gays are
>>>politically conservative; some are wild radicals. Some are promiscuous,
>>>some are monogamous. Some live in so-called gay ghettos. Some listen to
>>>Abba and dress well; others listen to Wynona Judd and dress carelessly.
>>>The Internet website, Twice Blessed, which is the Jewish GLBT archive,
>>>(GLBT stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered/Transsexual)
>>>http://www.usc.edu/isd/archives/oneigla/tb/ includes the following
>>>homosexual Jews in its December birthday list:-
>>> a.. Dr. Anna Freud was born on December 3rd, 1895. Anna, a
>>>prominent psychologist and the daughter of Sigmund Freud, died on October
>>> b.. Dr. Gilbert Miller was born on December 5th, 1934.
>>>Gilbert, the father of two sons, died on August 8th, 1986 from
>>> c.. Edward Irving Koch was born on December 12th, 1924. He is
>>>best known for having been the mayor of New York City.
>>> d.. Elly Bulkin was born on December 17th, 1944. Elly is the
>>>author of "Enter Password: Recovery" and co-author of "Yours in
>>> e.. Jason Emanuel Gould was born on December 29th, 1966.
>>>Jason, a handsome actor and filmmaker, will probably always be best known
>>>for being the son of Elliot Gould.
>>> There are many other famous Jewish homosexuals, including Leonard
>>>Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Allen Ginsburg, Janis Ian, Marcel Proust,
>>>Gertrude Stein & Alice B Toklas. We see no specific commonality, no
>>>'lifestyle', in this group of Jewish homosexuals. Along with this
>>>assumption about lifestyle, is the allegation that some homosexuals
>>>emulate the roles found in heterosexual couples, both in sexual matters,
>>>and in lifestyle. So-called "drag queens" and "butch" women are small
>>>minorities. Homosexuals, by and large, are not looking for someone who
>>>acts like a member of the opposite sex. A homosexual male is attracted to
>>>his partner's maleness. As with any relationship, some people are more
>>>dominant or assertive than others, but the stereotypical homosexual
>>>relationship shown, for example, in Birdcage, is just that: a stereotype,
>>>not reflective of reality in all situations, as valid as the assertion
>>>that "all Jews are rich".
>>> Many Orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Christians urge homosexuals
>>>to change, to search out therapy that will make them heterosexual. This
>>>is dangerous territory. The American Psychiatric Association (1996)
>>> There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy
>>>of 'reparative therapy' as a treatment to change ones sexual orientation
>>>. . . There is no evidence that any treatment can change a homosexual
>>>person's deep seated sexual feelings for others of the same sex. . .
>>>[Any] person who seeks conversion therapy may be doing so because of
>>>social bias that has resulted in internalized homophobia, ... Gay men and
>>>lesbians who have accepted their sexual orientation positively are better
>>>adjusted than those who have not done so.
>>> There is absolutely no evidence that homosexuals are more prone to
>>>molest children or young adults, than heterosexuals. Likewise, there is
>>>no evidence that homosexuals would be worse parents than heterosexuals.
>>> Studies comparing groups of children raised by homosexual parents
>>>find no developmental differences between the two groups of children in
>>>their intelligence, psychological adjustment, social adjustment,
>>>popularity with friends, development of social sex role identity or
>>>development of sexual orientation
>>> Jewish society, is for the most part, homophobic and heterosexist
>>>in nature. (Firestone, 1994).
>>> Homophobia is strictly defined as an irrational fear of
>>>homosexuals. In modern usage, however, homophobia has a broader meaning
>>>and includes the expression of negative bias against lesbians and gay
>>>men. It is bound up with a number of negative stereotypes about lesbians
>>>and gay men . . . Heterosexism [describes] a spectrum of ideas and
>>>practices that assume heterosexuality is superior to and/or more 'natural
>>>than homosexuality . . . Individuals who neither hate nor fear
>>>homosexuals may still ignore their existence and needs by assuming that
>>>everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is the norm by which
>>>other sexual orientations should be judged.
>>> A gentile homosexual man in his mid-20s told me the other day that
>>>his mother recently married a Jewish man. He described meeting his new
>>>step-grandparents and their family. To paraphrase his words to me, "I
>>>have learned a lot of Yiddish, lately: shiksa, shaygetz, goy,
>>>faygele....." What a positive image of Judaism we portray, with these
>>>pejorative, bigotted terms? Are these the Jewish 'family values' that are
>>>so integral to Judaism?
>>> The President of Israel, Ezer Weizman, quoted by the Associated
>>>Press on December 23, 1996
>>> told a group of high school students in Haifa that he did not
>>>like "a man who wants to be a woman or a woman who wants to be a man." "I
>>>myself am disgusted by this,'' he said. Weizman told the students he
>>>opposed the growing trend of homosexuals coming out of the closet. ``Like
>>>alcoholism, I don't think we need to encourage it or say it is something
>>>wonderful,'' he said. Israel's chief Sephardic rabbi, Bakshi Doron, said
>>>he supported Weizman's position, and was quoted by Israel's army radio as
>>>calling homosexuality ``a despicable and abnormal phenomenon.''
>>> Weizman later issued a "statement of regret" , but did not
>>>apologize for what he said.
>>> It can be argued that this is but a reflection of society at large.
>>>Judaism, however, is more than a reflection of society. We are a belief
>>>system based on justice and positive ethical behaviors. In the last part
>>>of my paper, I will discuss ways in which the Conservative movement has
>>>suggested that we, as members of Or Shalom, can combat homophobia and
>>>heterosexism, within ourselves, our congregation, and the community at
>>> The Biblical and Talmudic Positions on Homosexuality
>>> [Much of this section paraphrases the research of Jason Knisley,
>>>who wrote his amazing paper on the subject last year, at age 14.]
>>> The Bible does not condemn homosexuality in general, but it does
>>>condemn three things: homosexual rape, the ritual prostitution that was
>>>part of the Canaanite fertility cult that was apparently, at one time, in
>>>Jewish practice as well, and homosexual lust and behavior on the part of
>>> Let us examine each of the three concepts mentioned above before
>>>proceeding to the Biblical references regarding homosexuality. The first,
>>>homosexual rape, would be sinful (if not completely evil) even without
>>>the word "homosexual" prefacing the word "rape."
>>> Second, many of the references to men having sex with other men
>>>refer to the Canaanite fertility cult. For instance, some English
>>>translations of the word kedeshim render it "sodomites" when, in reality,
>>>it should be "male temple prostitute."
>>> The final point regards heterosexuals imitating homosexual
>>>behavior. This is probably in place because of not only the Canaanites,
>>>but because, to heterosexuals, homosexual acts would be unnatural. This
>>>may also have been stated because ancient Greek society placed importance
>>>on all men taking a male lover as well as a wife. Since homosexual acts
>>>are not unnatural to homosexuals, this statement does not apply to them.
>>> Biblical references to homosexuality are very few, and most refer
>>>to things that apply universally, regardless of sexuality. There are few
>>>that could conceivably be about male-male love, not just the sexual act.
>>> Rothman (1996) states that confronting the account of Sodom and
>>>Gomorrah in Genesis is extremely difficult for gay men and lesbians.
>>>Indeed, even without considering the halacha, these passages seem to
>>>strongly indicate that the founding Jewish communities prohibited sex
>>>between male partners.
>>> This connection is made by juxtaposing the request of the Sodomites
>>>with the final destruction of Sodom by the wrath of God. In 19:5 the men
>>>ask, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us,
>>>that we may know them." Since Lot responds to this request by offering
>>>his virgin daughters as substitutes, few have questioned the sexual
>>>content of this account, and therefore the prohibitive implications for
>>>gays and lesbians.
>>> In the ancient Near East, hospitality to travelers was considered
>>>not a courtesy, but a religious duty. This idea is not only supported by
>>>the Leviticus 19:33, but by the marked contrast between Abraham and Lot's
>>>treatment of the angels and the townsmen's' treatment of them.
>>> The violation that the people of Sodom made was not that of a
>>>loving, homosexual relationship, but of inhospitality. This idea is not a
>>>new interpretation since most comments, both within and without the
>>>Bible, make the sins of Sodom out to be various things, but not
>>>homosexuality. For example, Isaiah 1:9 & ff. and 3:9 declare it to be
>>>because of a lack of social justice. According to Ezekiel 16:46-52, it
>>>was disregard for the poor. (Schwartz, n.d.).
>>> The Talmud and Midrashim often refer to the sins of Sodom as pride,
>>>arrogance, and inhospitality. One mention of homosexuality comes in the
>>>form of a statement having to do with the rape and robbery of strangers.
>>>("The Sodomites made an agreement among themselves whenever a stranger
>>>visited them they would force him to sodomy and rob him of his money.")
>>>While such things are homosexual, it is also true that they are in the
>>>context of rape, robbery, and inhospitality. In this case, these sins are
>>>not foreign to heterosexuality, either, and should be no indicator of
>>>whether homosexuality is a sin. And if it were, heterosexuality would
>>>have to summarily be declared a sin along with homosexuality since
>>>heterosexuals have raped people, as well.
>>> Other mention of homosexuality is limited. In Gen. 39, it seems
>>>that both Potiphar and his wife had a sexual interest in the young
>>>Joseph. (cf Gen. Rabba 91:1/Sotah 16b). I Sam. 18-20 describes the
>>>intense love between David and Jonathan, in terms used nowadays to
>>>describe homosexual love. Frequently, the point is made that Jonathan
>>>"loved David as himself".
>>> In another passage, that has been used, there are references to
>>>kadesh and kedeshim mentioned in Deuteronomy 23:17-18, I Kings 14:24,
>>>15:12, & 22:46, II Kings 23:7, and in Job 36:14. Some English
>>>translations render it as "sodomite(s)." The literal translation,
>>>however, is "holy man" or "holy men." This passage forbids the Israelite
>>>men to become such, as it also does women.
>>> Bible scholars today believe that these terms refer to the priests
>>>and priestesses of the Canaanite Fertility Cult. Evidence outside of the
>>>Bible tends to support the inference that both of these engaged in ritual
>>>intercourse with male worshippers. It is asserted by Jacob Milgrom that
>>>this and other later sections of Deuteronomy were additions by a
>>>particular priestly school, known as H (for Holiness). The Deuteronomy
>>>passage also seems to equate kedeshah with zonah, the Hebrew word for
>>>female prostitute. Because of this, it seems a far better translation of
>>>kadesh and kedeshim would be "male cult prostitute." Rabbi Kelman quotes
>>>Harold Schulweis: "What the Bible inveighed against was the pagan
>>>tradition that paid obeisance to pagan gods by all forms of illicit
>>> Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 tells the men of Israel not to "lie with a
>>>male as with a woman;" the latter verse invokes the death penalty because
>>>it is toevah. While toevah is usually translated as "abomination," it is
>>>used, in the Bible, to refer to idolatry and its practices.
>>> In reference to this Norman Lamm states ( quoted in Kellner):
>>> It may be . . . that an act characterized as an abomination is
>>>prima facie disgusting and cannot further be defined or explained.
>>>Certain acts are considered to'evah by the Torah, and there the matter
>>>rests. It is, as it were, a visible reaction, an intuitive
>>>disqualification of the act, and we run the risk of distorting the
>>>biblical judgment if we rationalize it. To'evah constitutes a category of
>>>objectionableness sui generis: it is a primary phenomenon.
>>> A better translation of to'evah might be "distasteful", according
>>>to Conservative Rabbi Joel Roth. And since the injunctions are in the
>>>context of the Israelites imitating the practices of the Canaanites, the
>>>injunctions are probably directed toward the homosexual prostitution
>>>found in the Canaanite cult. It cannot be to prohibit all homosexual
>>>behavior because it does not make an injunction toward female-female sex.
>>>This cannot be an oversight since injunctions were made toward both sexes
>>>regarding having intercourse with animals. Stuart Kelman, a Conservative
>>>Rabbi, speculates that the prohibition may, in fact, be one against
>>>bisexuality. Referring to to'evah, Boteach (1993) says "there are many
>>>other uses of the word to'evah in the Torah which would not depict a
>>>social loathing or repulsion of a particular mode of human behavior".
>>> In terms of Conservative Jewish practice, Rabbi Kelman (1995)
>>>further points out that "there is at least one instance where we, as
>>>Conservative Rabbis, disregard to'evah completely. We may, according to
>>>the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, officiate at a marriage
>>>involving the offspring of an adulterous couple (mamzer) to a
>>> In Genesis Rabbah 26:5 (cf: Hullin 92a-b), Rabbi Huna said in the
>>>name of Rabbi Joseph, "The generation of the flood was not obliterated
>>>from the world until they wrote marriage contracts/wedding hymns for
>>>(males with) males and (people with) animals." (Grishaver, 4). The same
>>>Rabbi Huna also equated lesbianism with harlotry.
>>> To quote Jacob Rothman:
>>> As described by Rabbi Yoel Kahn, the following five concerns are
>>>reflected in the halakhic discussion of sexuality: economy of seed; the
>>>procreative purpose of sex; the role of women and the conjugal duty of
>>>men to engage in intercourse weekly (the onah); and the concern for
>>>ritual purity. All five are based largely on ancient conceptions of
>>>physiology, anthropology, and various theological claims regarding the
>>>nature of revelation in the Torah. For example, in reference to the
>>>fourth concern, it is understood that the Torah (Exodus 21:11) provides
>>>an outline for conjugal rights. In the Mishna, the frequency in which the
>>>onah must be provided is further specified. In addition, it is explained
>>>that male sexual energy is boundless, while the energy of the female is
>>>subdued and therefore must be aroused. As a result of this biblical and
>>>physiological understanding there is an emphasis not only on providing
>>>the onah, but on the specific techniques that men must master in order to
>>>perform the latter correctly. The ancient rabbis were fundamentally
>>>concerned with the proper methods of arousal in order to fulfill this
>>>obligation. To be able to arouse a wife is viewed as a mitzvah, or a
>>>sacred obligation for men. Therefore, according to this understanding,
>>>sex between men is not a mitzvah because it occurs outside of marriage,
>>>and does not focus on arousing a woman.
>>> In reference to the other four concerns, the basic understanding
>>>and biases of the ancient rabbis largely dictates the parameters of
>>>sexual expression as defined in the halacha. Summarizing the behavioral
>>>norms that are generated from these beliefs, it can be stated that sex is
>>>only licit and sacred when it occurs: between opposite sex partners; in
>>>the context of marriage; through vaginal intercourse; preferably in the
>>>missionary style; at permitted times during the religious calendar; at
>>>permitted times during the woman's menstrual cycle; with attention to
>>>women's satisfaction and pleasure; with the expectation that it will be
>>> Thus, homosexuality violates the mitzvah of procreative sex, (Gen.
>>>1:28), as Rabbi Janet Marder points out. The natural order, as presented
>>>in Genesis, was that woman was created to fulfill and complete man, so
>>>that man would not be alone. (Diament). This prohibition went with
>>>Rabbinic and Halachic assertions that Jews simply were not homosexuals.
>>>In Kiddushin 82a, Rabbi Judah stated that "Jews are not suspected of
>>>homosexuality". As Rabbi Bradley Artson points out (Grishaver) "The Torah
>>>did not prohibit what it did not know".
>>> Plaskow observes (Lerner, 1993) that "it's ironic that the
>>>importance of procreation in the Jewish world is often coupled with a
>>>rejection of homosexuality and the marginalization of gay and lesbian
>>>Jews who want to become part of the Jewish community and who are, despite
>>>their homosexuality, having children and raising families. And then this
>>>(rejection) is argued for in the name of preserving the community in the
>>>face of feeling that there aren't enough of us."
>>> Maimonides, in Mishneh Torah, establishes rigid prohibitions
>>>against homosexual behavior, although he later asserts that the practices
>>>were unknown. (Hilkhot Issurei Biah 22:2). I will deal later with the
>>>issue of procreation and homosexuality. In summary, the Biblical and
>>>halachic prohibitions are based on three things: the indignity of
>>>religious harlotry; the primacy of family in Judaism; and a distinction
>>>between homosexual love, and homosexual practice, along with much denial
>>>that loving homosexual relationships could be sustained.
>>> A Midrash
>>> There's a story in the Talmud, Masechet Derech Eretz (Chapter 4),
>>>which relates that once Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar was coming from Migdal
>>>Eder, from his teacher's house, and he was riding leisurely on his horse
>>>by the seaside. A certain man chanced to meet him, and the man was
>>>exceedingly ugly. Rabbi Shimon said to him, "Raka (simpleton), how ugly
>>>are the children of Abraham our father." The other man replied, "What can
>>>I do for you? Speak to the Craftsman Who made me." Rabbi Shimon
>>>immediately dismounted from his horse and bowed before the man and said,
>>>"I apologize to you, forgive me." He replied to him, "I will not forgive
>>>you until you go to the Craftsman Who made me and say, "How ugly is the
>>>vessel which You have made."
>>> Rabbi Shimon walked behind him for three miles. When the people in
>>>town heard of the arrival of Rabbi Shimon, they came out to meet him and
>>>greeted him with the words, "Peace be unto you, rabbi." The other man
>>>said to them, "Who are you calling rabbi?" They answered, "The man who is
>>>walking behind you." Thereupon he exclaimed, "If this man is a rabbi, may
>>>there not be any more like him in Israel!" He told the people the whole
>>>story, and they begged him to forgive the rabbi, and he agreed, only on
>>>the condition that he never act in this manner again.
>>> The Holy One created all kinds of people. We have to accept,
>>>welcome, and love that diversity God created, or else take those issues
>>>up with the Creator, not with the person who was created. Diversity is
>>>what makes each of us special. Inclusiveness, welcoming, and involvement
>>>with the diverse people who share this earth with us make us a holy
>>>community. Uniformity is destruction; diversity is our strength and our
>>> It is not up to us to judge people based on the color of their
>>>skin, or their gender, or their sexual orientation. If you have a problem
>>>with the fact that a person is gay, a woman, or of a different skin
>>>color, discuss your problem with the One Who created people to be
>>>different, if you're so inclined. But remember that your problem is not
>>>with the created but with the Creator.
>>> by Rabbi Harris Goldstein, from the book: Being A Blessing :54 Ways
>>>You Can Help People Living With AIDS
>>> The Traditional Viewpoint
>>> As Rothman (1996) points out, any discussion of the Traditionalist
>>>perspective must begin by recognizing that there has been a general
>>>repudiation of homosexual relationships by the Jewish community. Quoting
>>>Moshe Spero (1979), homosexuality "destroys the individual's ability for
>>>ontological fulfillment in the halakhic world." Expanding on this
>>>sentiment, many modern rabbis have attempted to explain why Judaism and
>>>homosexuality are mutually exclusive. In reference to this question Rabbi
>>>Norman Lamm (quoted in Kellner) has stated that homosexuality: frustrates
>>>the divine intent of procreation; undermines the family; and is
>>>biologically and anatomically unnatural. Concluding his argument he
>>>asserts that homosexuals should be viewed as patients rather than
>>>criminals. As a result, psychological assistance must be extended to
>>>those who cannot avoid homosexual desire. This statement of course denies
>>>the possibility of viewing homosexuality as a viable form of sexual
>>>fulfillment and personal expression. Regrettably, this has been the
>>>majority opinion of both Conservative and Orthodox rabbis. Although it
>>>should be noted that the Reform and Reconstructionists movements have
>>>generally taken a more tolerant stance on the issue of homosexuality,
>>>there is still a failure on the part of the latter to extend religious
>>>legitimacy to homosexual desire.
>>> The most enlightened traditional viewpoint is expressed by Rabbi
>>>Shmuel Boteach (1993):
>>> Homosexuality cannot be a sexual deviance because the very idea
>>>of a sexual deviance is a contradiction in terms. Sexuality is primarily
>>>instinctive, and deviation is incompatible with an instinct. Why then
>>>should homosexuality be frowned upon? Can we say it is anymore
>>>objectionable than some of the other forms of sexuality or sexual
>>>behavior that are sanctioned by Torah law? The only explanation we can
>>>offer is that it is wrong merely and only because G-d said so. The
>>>Creator of the Universe expressed a preference for heterosexuality and
>>>mandated that it alone be practiced by humans.. . Judaism is willing to
>>>accept that homosexuality represents no more of an aberration than
>>>heterosexuality, because sexuality as a whole is naturally instinctive.
>>>Not being a contemplative act, it is contradictory to label any sexual
>>>behavior unnatural. However, the Jewish objection to homosexuality is
>>>based purely on the fact that G-d has revealed the forms of sexual
>>>behavior He deems to be holy, and those which are not. This is not to say
>>>that any form is any more natural. It does mean that, aside from
>>>heterosexuality, G-d has proscribed all other forms of sexual congress,
>>>however desirable or gratifying, to humankind.
>>> Boteach goes on to state that "Every young person must at some time
>>>consider their sexuality and what they intend to do with it. Is it to be
>>>an instrument for one particular variety of personal pleasure alone, or
>>>is it a part of the whole compliment of human qualities that can be used
>>>to create a thriving and happy community?"
>>> In considering homosexuality, this young Orthodox rabbi, who at the
>>>time he wrote this paper, was involved with the Lubavitch movement, says
>>>that "While various papers have been published offering an Halakhic
>>>appraisal, I have yet to see a coherent and wholesome perspective being
>>>proffered, one which blends into an overall Jewish appraisal of human
>>>sexuality. At present, Homosexuality in the more traditional sections of
>>>the Jewish community is treated as an aberration at best and something
>>>deeply shameful, a sickness, at worst. . .The problem with this
>>>simplistic dismissal of such an emotive issue is its inhumanity." He
>>>criticizes much of modern Orthodoxy for behaving in an intolerant,
>>>homophobic manner. As Boteach says, "this approach contradicts everything
>>>that Judaism stands for in the form of a good, loving, long-suffering G-d
>>>who asks His creatures to emulate His mercy and compassion."
>>> He continues:-
>>> A sympathetic and mature Jewish approach to this subject must
>>>begin with the premise that it is not unreasonable for the Creator to
>>>demand that His people regulate their sexual activity. Every civilization
>>>throughout history, from the most religious and conservative to the most
>>>secular and liberal, have not felt it was sufficient to advocate certain
>>>sexual pathways, but have instituted laws to enforce these pathways. . .
>>>Judaism does not prohibit or in any way look down upon homosexual love.
>>>In the eyes of Judaism the love between two men or two women can be as
>>>natural as the love between a man and a woman. What it does prohibit is
>>>homosexual intercourse. . . An attraction felt by a man for other men or
>>>by a woman for other women would not be described by the Torah as
>>>'disgusting' or offensive, G-d forbid. A human is a warm, lovable, and
>>>attractive being, whatever the gender. Rather, it is acting upon that
>>>homosexual attraction which the Torah forbids in the strongest possible
>>>language. A man's sexual attraction to another man would be classified in
>>>the same category as being tempted to eat at McDonald's. The Torah is
>>>sympathetic to the attraction, but prohibits translating the attraction
>>> Boteach's argument, based on that of the Rebbe, z"l, is one of
>>>nurture, rather than nature. He does, however, criticize any beliefs that
>>>homosexual intercourse is unnatural.
>>> For all those on the right fringe who argue absurdly that
>>>homosexuality is a 'crime against nature,' and bring proofs to their
>>>points of view from human anatomy and the seeming heterosexual union it
>>>would suggest, I ask this: is oral sex or anal intercourse any more
>>>natural than homosexuality. And how about masturbation? Is there anything
>>>that would lead us to believe that the human hand was designed for such
>>>purposes? And if the answer to both these questions is 'no', then why are
>>>they only combating 'homosexuality' as an aberration and crime against
>>> Since homosexuality is assumed to be environmental, it can be
>>>'cured' through therapy." If homosexuality is a product of nurture rather
>>>than nature, then there exists the possibility that a homosexual may find
>>>sexual fulfillment in an heterosexual relationship,given enough
>>>exposure." To Boteach, one can be a practicing Orthodox homosexual only
>>>after all attempts at reorientation have failed. Boteach ventures into
>>>some rather muddy waters by asserting that, as there is a shortage of
>>>marriageable Jewish males, homosexual men are obligated to marry women.
>>> Homosexual men must focus, not only on personal sexual and
>>>relational satisfaction, but also on their larger responsibilities . . .
>>>their lifestyles have repercussions that effect the Jewish community
>>>worldwide, and leave many unhappy Jewish women who will never have
>>>husbands.... The homosexual is a sexual being like all others, and
>>>chooses his or her sexual preference. While he or she may indeed have
>>>been born with a specific sexual disposition, that does not preclude the
>>>possibility of finding sexual fulfillment in a heterosexual arrangement,
>>>specifically marriage.... The desire of the Jewish establishment should
>>>not only be that a homosexual should refrain from sinful activity, but
>>>that that person should engage in building a family and find a fulfilling
>>>life within the holy heterosexual institution of marriage. Every time an
>>>Orthodox representative looks upon a homosexual as being sick, it is
>>>simultaneously accepted that the homosexual can do nothing to reorient
>>>his or her sexual condition. . . . the humane Jewish approach to
>>>homosexuality must be based on a positive appraisal of the benefits of
>>>heterosexuality, rather than deploring homosexuality, as well as a clear
>>>commitment on the part of the homosexual to, at the very least, make a
>>>concerted effort to live in accordance with divine law. Only after an
>>>herculean effort has been made in the direction of heterosexuality can he
>>>or she be justified in rejecting the Jewish prohibition against
>>> Ultimately, Boteach argues for understanding for, and inclusion of
>>>homosexuals within the aegis of traditional Judaism.
>>> homosexuality is not a deviance, but simply a divinely proscribed
>>>act which becomes wrong because the Torah labels it to be so, and not
>>>because it is a minority or anatomically incongruent sexual act. This
>>>approach seeks to make the ostracisation or victimisation of homosexuals
>>>logically impossible, because it recognizes their essential identity with
>>>all humans. . . this does not mean that those homosexuals who find it too
>>>difficult to refrain from homosexual life should be discouraged from
>>>participating fully in all areas of Jewish communal life. If they point
>>>out the contradiction that their private life poses to Jewish observance,
>>>and use this as an excuse to remain ostracized, they should be told that
>>>homosexuality is a sin like any other sin: because someone eats a ham and
>>>mayo sandwich does not in any way impair their ability to participate
>>>fully in Jewish life.(emphasis mine).
>>> Boteach, a heterosexual, is more radical in many respects than a
>>>gay Orthodox rabbi, writing under the pseudonym of Yaakov Levado (Anon.,
>>> As a traditionalist, I hesitate to overturn cultural norms in a
>>>flurry of revolutionary zeal. I am committed to a slower and more
>>>cautious process of change, which must always begin internally. Halacha,
>>>as an activity, is not designed to affect social revolution. It is a
>>>society-building enterprise that maintains internal balance by
>>>reorganizing itself in response to changing social realities. When social
>>>conditions shift, we experience the halachic reapplications as the proper
>>>commitment to the Torah's original purposes. That shift in social
>>>consciousness in regard to homosexuality is a long way off.
>>> The Orthodox establishment is far less comprehending than Boteach.
>>>As Levado describes it, he is given only two options - act like a
>>>heterosexual, or be celibate. Perhaps Levado should consider Boteach's
>>>position, and accept the change in today's social realities. But, what
>>>about the Biblical injunction to procreate? Again, Levado points out:
>>> We are a people on the side of life-new life, more life, fuller
>>>life. The creation story invited the rabbis to read God's blessing of "be
>>>fruitful and multiply" as a command to have two children, a male and a
>>>female. Every Jewish child makes the possibility of the Torah's promise
>>>of a perfected world more real, more attainable. Abraham and Sarah
>>>transmit the vision by having children. Often the portrayal of blessing
>>>includes being surrounded with many children. Childlessness is a
>>>punishment and curse in the tradition, barrenness a calamity. ..Gay life
>>>does not prevent the possibility of producing or raising Jewish children,
>>>but it makes those options very complicated. Being gay means that the
>>>ordinary relationship between making love and having children is severed.
>>>There is a deep challenge to the structure of Judaism, since its very
>>>transmission is dependent on both relationship and reproduction. For Jews
>>>who feel bound by mitzvot, bound by the duty to ensure that life conquers
>>>death, the infertility of our loving is at the core of our struggle to
>>>understand ourselves in the light of the Torah.
>>> This problem, among others, lies at the root of much of the
>>>Jewish community's discomfort with gay people. To a people that was
>>>nearly destroyed fifty years ago, gay love seems irresponsible. Jews see
>>>the work of their lives in light of the shaping of a world for their
>>>children. By contrast, gay people appear narcissistic and self-indulgent.
>>>Gay people's sexuality is thus a diversion from the tasks of Jewish
>>>family and the survival that it symbolizes, and is perceived as marginal
>>>to the Jewish community because we are shirkers of this most central and
>>>sacred of communal tasks.
>>> The solution Levado advocates is a creative one.
>>> Holding fast to the covenant demands that I fulfill the mitzvot
>>>that are in my power to fulfill. I cannot marry and bear children, but
>>>there are other ways to build a family. Adoption and surrogacy are
>>>options. If these prove infeasible, the tradition considers a teacher
>>>similar to a parent in life-giving and thus frames a way that the mitzvah
>>>of procreation can be symbolically fulfilled.
>>> The Reform Position
>>> In 1987, the UAHC (the Synagogue arm of the Reform movement)
>>>adopted a resolution that sexual orientation should not be a
>>>consideration for membership of, or participation in Congregational
>>>activities. Congregations were urged to be inclusive. Again, in 1989, the
>>>UAHC reaffirmed its commitment to promoting full congregational
>>>membership opportunities for homosexual Jews, as singles, couples, and
>>> In 1995, a resolution was proposed to the UAHC by the New York
>>>Federation of Reform Synagogues, "not to discriminate on the basis of
>>>sexual orientation in matters relating to the employment of rabbis,
>>>cantors, educators, executives, administrators or other staff." This
>>>resolution has yet to be enacted.
>>> The Reform movement has accommodated a number of predominantly
>>>homosexual Synagogues and Temples within it. On the one hand, this
>>>provides a Jewish spiritual and communal environment where people can
>>>count on acceptance and support. On the other hand, however, this
>>>entrenches a form of apartheid for homosexual Jews. The Orthodox
>>>community appears in many instances, to push homosexuals into the closet:
>>>the Reform movement allows homosexuals to participate Jewishly, though
>>>sometimes they prefer them to do it separately. I rather think Boteach's
>>>position is the more enlightened path: full, non-judgmental participation
>>>in Jewish life.
>>> The Reform responsum to the issue of "be fruitful and multiply" was
>>>best articulated by Yoel Kahn (CCAR, 1989):
>>> I have been repeatedly asked: If we elevate homosexual families
>>>to an equal status with heterosexual families, will we not undermine the
>>>already precarious place of the traditional family? I do not believe that
>>>encouraging commitment, stability and openness undermines the institution
>>>of family - it enhances it. At present, many gay and lesbian Jews are
>>>estranged from the synagogue, the Jewish community, and their families of
>>>origin because of continued fear, stigma and oppression. Welcoming gay
>>>and lesbian families into the synagogue will strengthen all our families,
>>>by bringing the exiles home and by reuniting children, parents and
>>>siblings who have been forced to keep their partners and innermost lives
>>>hidden. Kelal Yisrael is strengthened when we affirm that there can be
>>>more than one way to participate in the Covenant.
>>> This is not by any means, a majority position. Leonard Kravitz , in
>>>the same booklet, wrote that "if the relationship between two homosexuals
>>>is granted the status of kiddushin, a public matter, we are changing the
>>>circumstances so that those who previously might not have acted in a
>>>homosexual manner, now might." It seems even some liberal rabbis believe
>>>that homosexuality is a lifestyle, and people can somehow be 'recruited'.
>>>Indeed, if you include homosexuals in your congregation, some people who
>>>were closeted, will come out to the congregation. Is this regrettable, or
>>>desirable? What would Rabbi Levado say, if he had such an option?
>>> There are several Reform responsa to Leviticus. Rabbi Janet Marder
>>>(Grishaver) , said in 1985 "I believe, and I teach my (homosexual)
>>>congregants, that Jewish law condemn their way of life (sic). But I teach
>>>also that I cannot accept that law as authoritative." Alan Rosenberg
>>>(Grishaver) wrote in 1995, "G-d could not have written words that would
>>>result in so much suffering for the Gay community and their families -
>>>not my G-d".
>>> Rabbi Leila Berner, was quoted in 1996, thusly:
>>> "As my friend and teacher Rabbi Arthur Waskow has described it, I
>>>have been engaged in a passionate, long-term bout of God-wrestling,'"
>>>said Berner, whose congregation is predominantly gay and lesbian. "Just
>>>as Jacob wrestled with the divine angel and emerged as `Israel'--the one
>>>who has struggled with God and humans--and prevailed, so I and many other
>>>lesbian and gay Jews have wrestled with Judaism and have prevailed.
>>>Rather than run from our tradition, we engage with it through a
>>>re-evaluation of its sacred texts and teachings and a reframing of a
>>>Jewish ethic of sexuality based on deeply-rooted Jewish values."
>>> Michael Tolkin supports Rabbi Berner (Grishaver) when he says:
>>> Since Lev. 18:22 is as open to interpretation as any other
>>>compound sentence in the Torah.... There are ways of reading it to soften
>>>the harshest understanding, but... it might be more courageous to say
>>>that it means exactly what we don't want it to mean. Better to defy the
>>>law, to stand in direct rebellion to G-d, in a heroic conversation with
>>> Rabbi Steven Leder (1995) reinforces this position, in a moving
>>>letter to his brother:
>>> I know what the Torah says about homosexuality in this week's
>>>portion; it's called "abomination punishable by death." But I don't
>>>believe a loving God could have written such a thing. It could only have
>>>come from well-meaning but ignorant humans who could not see that
>>>homosexuality was part of God's diverse plan for humanity. It could only
>>>have come from people who knew almost nothing of what we know today. It
>>>could only have come from people who did not know my brother Greg; your
>>>goodness and your deep Jewish soul.
>>> The Conservative Position
>>> That it has taken so long to get to the position of the
>>>Conservative movement, in preparing this paper, should indicate to the
>>>reader that finding a 'middle point', as the Conservative movement
>>>strives to do, is difficult and at times, unmanageable.
>>> In May 1990, the Rabbinical Assembly (the spiritual arm of the
>>>United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism)passed a resolution supporting
>>>lesbian/gay civil rights, deploring violence against lesbians/gays,
>>>reiterating that gays and lesbians are welcome as members in Conservative
>>>congregations, and calling on synagogues and arms of the Movement to
>>>increase awareness, understanding and concerns for lesbian and gay Jews.
>>>The Women's League adopted essentially the same resolution in November
>>>1992. The United Synagogue adopted a similar resolution in November 1991,
>>>but omitted the fourth point (calling for awareness, etc.) .
>>> In 1992, the Rabbinical Assembly (RA) Committee on Law and
>>>Standards adopted two responsa on the issue of homosexuality and Judaism.
>>>The majority report, written by then Chair Rabbi Joel Roth, gave the
>>>(expectedly) conservative opinion that homosexuality was clearly and
>>>plainly prohibited by the Torah as a to'evah ,and that was that,
>>>contemporary understandings of the nature of sexuality and sexual
>>>orientation notwithstanding. Homosexuals who acted on their sexuality and
>>>were not celibate were sinning, period. As Rabbi Elliot Dorff (1995)
>>> Most within this group openly worried about the future viability
>>>of the Jewish family if homosexual relations are condoned, and they also
>>>asserted that (acceptance of homosexuality) would establish a slippery
>>>slope which would make it impossible for us as a movement to affirm
>>>Jewish sexual values of any sort. Some within this group also argued that
>>>changing moral perceptions are.... Not sufficient reason to change
>>> Rabbi Dorff wrote a minority opinion that was officially accepted
>>>as such by the fact that it received the requisite 8 votes. This means
>>>that it is an acceptable part of the official Conservative Responsa,
>>>albeit a minor one. Basically, he states that our modern understanding of
>>>the nature of sexuality and sexual orientation makes the category of
>>>to'evah inoperable in this matter and should be halachicly dispensed
>>> New scientific findings and, more importantly, the testimony of
>>>homosexuals themselves provide us with ample evidence that those who are
>>>clearly homosexual do not choose to be so. On the contrary, they
>>>generally have intimations of their orientation early in their lives and
>>>often do everything in their power to convince themselves otherwise so as
>>>to avoid the stigma and prejudice which society inflicts on homosexuals..
>>> Since legal demands or prohibitions only make logical sense if
>>>the people being commanded can fulfil them, and since the Torah and
>>>Jewish tradition clearly assumed the homosexual's ability to choose to be
>>>heterosexual, .... (h)omosexuality should no longer be considered an
>>>abomination, for that implies that the person could choose to do
>>>otherwise. In addition, ... since all of the relevant professional
>>>organizations and most mental health professionals assert that sexual
>>>orientation is ingrained in a person from an early age and cannot be
>>>changed, homosexuals do not pose a threat to heterosexual, family life.
>>>...Recommending celibacy for homosexuals is... cruel, and not in accord
>>>with classical Jewish views of the body and sexuality as God's gift whose
>>>legitimate pleasures it is a sin to deny. . . The same Jewish norms which
>>>apply to heterosexual relationships would govern homosexual sex . . .
>>>This would lead some (Rabbis) to advocate performing commitment
>>>ceremonies as a way of creating strong, monogamous, loving, and Jewishly
>>>committed relationships among homosexuals.
>>> This means that gay men and lesbians should be welcomed as full
>>>participating members of the Jewish community and Conservative
>>>synagogues. Nonetheless Tradition expresses a clear "preference" for
>>>heterosexuality, especially when it comes to raising children (in which
>>>two parents, one of each sex, is to be desired). The paper also called
>>>for the formation of a movement-wide commission to explore sexuality in
>>>general and to look into how our understanding of it might "impact" on
>>>the matter of homosexuality.
>>> In the sprit of this earlier responsum, 1995, Rabbi Dorff wrote a
>>>report on behalf of the Commission on Human sexuality of the Rabbinical
>>>Assembly, entitled, "This is my Beloved, This is My Friend:", a Rabbinic
>>>Letter on Intimate Relations. The report reaffirmed Dorff's earlier
>>>responsum, and made a strong plea for programs to eliminate homophobia
>>>and heterosexism, in order that homosexuals be fully welcomed in
>>> The first suggestion was for synagogue groups to meet with gay and
>>>lesbian Jews, to explore how the congregation may be more welcoming. "The
>>>goal would be to sensitize synagogue members to the fact that Jewish
>>>gays, lesbians and their families are not an outside group but are part
>>>of our own community and should be treated as such".
>>> It was suggested that, in synagogues with programs for special
>>>constituencies, such programs might be created for homosexual Jews.
>>>Information regarding support groups, such as PFLAG (Parents and Friends
>>>of Lesbians and Gays) could be disseminated by the synagogue, and the
>>>synagogue might host such groups. At present, such a group does not exist
>>>in London, but a well-motivated Synagogue group could help in forming
>>>such a necessary organization.
>>> A third suggestion was the inclusion of discussions of sexuality
>>>and homosexuality as a part of adult and teen education programs. Torati,
>>>Or Shalom's adult education group, has indeed included this, both this
>>>year and in previous sessions. As Dorff says, "one consequence of this is
>>>that Jewish homosexuals, like Jewish heterosexuals, should not be seen
>>>narrowly as people who engage in certain kinds of sexual practices, but
>>>rather as people and as Jews, with the full range of interactions that
>>>people and Jews have with each other". The resource book, Twice Blessed
>>>(1989) includes a comprehensive curriculum for teen groups, and an
>>>outline for a workshop on homophobia.
>>> Dorff's final suggestion is that Tikkun Olam (Social action)
>>>programs be organized to advance the human rights of homosexuals.
>>> The corollary of this outreach activity is that , as Dorff puts it,
>>>"like all other Jews, gays and lesbians have the duties of Jewish study
>>>and action, including affiliation and active participation in a synagogue
>>>and in the Jewish community generally.
>>> An anonymous student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, "David",
>>>wrote as follows (1996):-
>>> In a highly controversial and publicized decision, the
>>>Conservative Movement's leadership stated that while gay and lesbian Jews
>>>should be accepted in the community and synagogues, they should not lead
>>>them, and as such, would not ordain openly gay rabbis-the Jewish version
>>>of "don't-ask-don't-tell." This decision fell half-way between total
>>>acceptance of the Reform Movement and the outright rejection of the
>>>Orthodox Movement. It is unclear to me how an institution that has so
>>>wholeheartedly embraced egalitarianism, biblical critique and liberal
>>>social issues has evaded the issue of gay and lesbian leadership. I
>>>cannot imagine how the roles I have assumed in the Jewish world-educator,
>>>volunteer, gabbai, donor and dugmah-have been hindered by my sexuality.
>>>Nor will I even try to imagine how my participation in tikkun olam is
>>>somehow lessened in the eyes of Hashem because of how or who I love.
>>> This is an evolving situation, in my opinion. The Conservative
>>>movement has endorsed the full participation of women in the Synagogue,
>>>including the roles of rabbi and cantor, and our synagogue is attempting
>>>to develop its own ways of dealing with women as congregational leaders.
>>>Some might assert that the issues are different: there is no halachic
>>>prohibition against leadership by women, and our Matriarchs and Judges
>>>exemplify this leadership. We accept Synagogual leadership by people who
>>>are not fully shomrei mitzvot. To deny leadership roles to committed
>>>homosexual Jews would be hypocrisy, and would reinforce heterosexism and
>>> Michelle Kwitkin, in a posting on December 30, 1996, to the
>>>Internet listserv, "gayjews", summarized the position of a Conservative
>>> As a Conservative Jew, I believe that halakha (=normative Jewish
>>>law) IS binding. The Conservative Movement, however, understands the
>>>traditional halakhic sources (Bible, Talmud, etc.) as products of
>>>different historical ages-which are often very different from our own
>>>age! Deciding what is halakhically permissible is not only a matter of
>>>reading the texts, but also understanding the social/cultural contexts in
>>>which they developed. Regarding the biblical prohibitions against male
>>>homosexual behavior (and the Rabbinic prohibitions against lesbianism):
>>> 1) the classic halakhic positions were formulated when
>>>idolatrous, incestuous, hedonistic, etc. homosexuality was known, but
>>>long-term, monogamous same-sex relationships were not.
>>> 2) there was an assumption of free choice regarding homosexual
>>>behavior; the fixed/unchangeable nature of sexual orientation has only
>>>become widely understood fairly recently.
>>> Thus, many Conservative Jews-myself included-would say that the
>>>traditional prohibitions against homosexuality do NOT really address the
>>>phenomenon of gay life as we understand it today. Gay/lesbian
>>>relationships can-and should!--be recognized and sanctified Jewishly.
>>> For me, there is no incompatibility between being gay and leading
>>>a halakhic life...the former is not a violation (or temporary suspension)
>>>of the latter. Understanding sexuality this way is, of course, radically
>>>different from how the tradition has understood it for centuries.
>>>However, my (Conservative) understanding of the evolving nature of
>>>halakha allows for-and sometimes even demands!--changes within halakha.
>>>(The status of women in Jewish ritual is not so different: even though
>>>traditional sources forbid it, changed social reality has led the
>>>Conservative Movement to rule that women may halakhically participate
>>>equally in ritual life.)
>>> Three disclaimers:
>>> 1. This is certainly not the unanimous viewpoint within the
>>>Conservative Movement. Many continue to see homosexual behavior as
>>>unconditionally forbidden. However, I believe that more and more
>>>Conservative Jews-laypeople as well as rabbis-are becoming more open to
>>>the possibility of full acceptance of gay Jews. Again, a comparison with
>>>egalitarianism (within Conservative) is instructive: limited acceptance
>>>at first, which slowly diffuses throughout the movement, gaining more
>>>adherents as people become more used to and comfortable with the idea
>>>(although, of course, there will always be those who don't accept it).
>>> 2. This is how I understand gay issues, from a *Conservative*
>>>perspective. What I have written above is predicated on an understanding
>>>of halakha which is VERY different from an Orthodox understanding of
>>>halakha. Naturally, somebody who believes that the Torah was revealed by
>>>God to Moses at Sinai will strongly disagree with what I have written
>>>above. We have different understandings of the history of halakha.
>>>Neither view can be "proven" more correct or true than the other;
>>>hopefully, we can agree to disagree.
>>> 3. What I have written above may also be problematic to those who
>>>argue that gay sexuality should not be confined to the narrow model of
>>>heterosexual norms (i.e., monogamous relationships). While I certainly
>>>support the right of those who choose non-traditional ways of expressing
>>>themselves sexually to do so, I an uncomfortable to articulate this
>>>within a halakhic framework (just as I would consider non-monogamous
>>>heterosexual relationships to fall outside the purview of halakha).
>>> The most controversial of all issues from a Conservative
>>>standpoint, is that of commitment ceremonies for homosexuals. Currently,
>>>many Reform rabbis, and about 15 Conservative rabbis perform such
>>>ceremonies for homosexual couples. Rabbi Stuart Kelman wrote a teshuvah
>>>(responsum) on the issue (1995). As a preliminary, he explained,
>>>paraphrasing Seymour Siegel, z"l that there are four categories under
>>>which new laws or changes to older ones are necessary these are ethical
>>>issues, as in the cases of the agunah or the mamzer; technological
>>>advances, such as transplants; social change, in areas such as women's
>>>rights and cases involving marriage to a kohen; and the needs of our
>>>times, in the case of driving to the synagogue on Shabbat. The Committee
>>>on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly is mandated to
>>>achieve a balance between change and tradition. The rabbi of each
>>>congregation is the final authority for the congregation, Rabbinical
>>>Assembly resolutions notwithstanding.
>>> In considering this issue, Rabbi Kelman makes twelve sets of
>>> a.. All human beings are created in God's image (betzelem
>>>elohim) and may enjoy what is commonly called human rights, and
>>> b.. Jews and homosexuals share a commonality, a history of
>>>persecution and suffering. Historically, Jews have always been faced with
>>>ethical decisions. "It seems to me that the defining issue for our
>>>generation is how we treat the "other", defined in any number of ways,
>>>only one of which concerns gays and lesbians."
>>> c.. God and humanity share a common moral framework. The moral
>>>imperative to do justly , as Plaskow points out, applies equally,
>>>regardless of whether homosexuals have any 'choice' in terms of
>>> d.. Geographical context is a major determinant. It is to be
>>>noted that Rabbi Kelman's Conservative congregation is in the Bay Area of
>>>San Francisco, which houses the largest homosexual population group in
>>> e.. When a synagogue calls itself egalitarian, that means that
>>>rights and obligations apply to all.
>>> f.. Forbiddens (issurim) are dealt with by Conservative Jews in
>>>the context that we are not literal, Torah Jews. As Rabbi Kelman points
>>>out, if we object to the consecration of homosexual relationships because
>>>they are forbidden , we must be sure to "be very, very pure" ourselves.
>>> g.. The issue of choice is a moot one. Rabbi Kelman states,
>>>"while I do not hold to the view that would equate homosexual and
>>>heterosexual marriage, the matter of choice remains unclear." Science is
>>>little help in this regard.
>>> h.. Rabbi Kelman points out that "sexual ethics has to do with
>>>how we treat the other person, not the gender of the other person." He
>>>emphasizes that as a Rabbi, he is uncomfortable with delving into
>>>people's sexual behaviors.
>>> i.. There is a fear that a Congregational decision to sanctify
>>>monogamous homosexual relationships may drive members away. So it is with
>>>any and every change. Change is uncomfortable. People leave congregations
>>>because they are too rigid, or they are too liberal (either the people or
>>> j.. "We are figuring out just what it is God wants of us". That
>>>is by no means clear. If we are Orthodox Jews, the Torah is God's word.
>>>As Conservative Jews, we must look at "God's will for us today".
>>> k.. It is in discussing language and perceptions that Rabbi
>>>Kelman's teshuvah becomes somewhat unclear. Traditionally, marriage is
>>>defined as a social institution whereby a man and a woman choose to be
>>>husband and wife, according to religious and/or civil ceremonies. Jewish
>>>law sets out marriage as two separate acts: Kiddushin (erusin) is an act
>>>performed by a man and a woman which leads to a change in their personal
>>>status, while nisuin brings about the legal consequences of this change.
>>>Thus, Rabbi Kelman sees the term, "marriage" as being unsuited to a
>>>homosexual relationship. He prefers the term, brit, covenant. "According
>>>to Jewish tradition, 'the covenant (brit) is the foundation for
>>>relationships. Its aim is to create mutually exclusive reciprocal
>>>relationships based on choice and accountability..'....The traditional
>>>Jewish wedding ceremony legally functions to join two individuals under
>>>the rules of property, not to mark a covenant."
>>> l.. In his final argument, Rabbi Kelman discusses the
>>>importance of blessings, berachot. "It seems to me...that it is quite
>>>appropriate for any rabbi to ask for the blessings of God on two
>>>individuals who are joining together in a loyal, permanent, monogamous,
>>>loving, committed Jewish relationship."
>>> Consequently, Rabbi Kelman permits an aufruf (prenuptial ceremony)
>>>on the shabbat preceding a commitment ceremony between two people of the
>>>same sex. He allows joint aliyot for homosexual couples on the same bases
>>>as for heterosexual couples; and he allows and performs commitment
>>>ceremonies, which he renames b'ritot riyut (Covenants of love) for
>>> In my opinion, if "marriage" is an unsuitable term for a homosexual
>>>relationship, it is an unsuitable term for a heterosexual relationship.
>>>If we reject the concept of marriage as an economic union and a
>>>legalistic structure involving super- and subordination, then Jewish
>>>marriage ceremonies must be restructured. The Reform movement have done
>>>so. If, however, we wish to preserve the form of the heterosexual
>>>marriage ceremony, while protecting the substance of marriage as an equal
>>>partnership based on mutual respect and love, then we should, in my
>>>opinion, allow homosexual couples to marry in the same fashion as
>>> The obligation to "be fruitful and multiply", is not always a
>>>factor in heterosexual Jewish marriages. Elderly Jews, where the woman is
>>>past child-bearing age, cannot always be seen in the light of Abraham and
>>>Sarah. We cannot expect such miracles in our age. Yet Rabbis duly
>>>officiate at the marriages of 80 year olds. Are fertility tests a
>>>requirement of any rabbi, or any Conservative (or any other) synagogue?
>>>The primary justification for marriage is that it satisfies the need for
>>>companionship. Abraham exiled his fertile wife, and stayed with the
>>>(presumably) infertile Sarah. Why? Because she was his companion, and he
>>> If we wish to preserve Jewish family values, then we should value
>>>Jewish families, whether they are homosexual or heterosexual. To quote
>>>Rabbi Dorff (1994), "even those who continue to see (homosexuality) as an
>>>abomination... would surely agree that if homosexuals are going to engage
>>>in sex, they should strive to let as many Jewish values as possible shape
>>>their relations. To do otherwise... makes Judaism irrelevant to them
>>> In preparing this combination research paper/resource document, I
>>>would like to thank the many people who have contributed ideas and
>>>material to this rather rambling document; in particular, Rabbis Larry
>>>Lander and Stuart Kelman; Msgr. John Cody; Gabriel Elias; Jason Knisley;
>>>Nettie Schwartz; Joel Grishaver; and above all, to my wife, Judy, our
>>>children, Melanie, David and Laura, my parents, Eve and Syd Silver, and
>>>my brother, Michael Shalev, who demonstrate in their lives, how to be
>>>just, thinking, loving Jews. I dedicate my efforts to the 2,000 gay,
>>>lesbian, bisexual and transgendered young people whom I have attempted to
>>>counsel and support over the past three years. They have taught me so
>>>much, and given me great respect and honor. Most of the young people are
>>>believers in one of the three Monotheistic religions: many of them are
>>>Jewish: I hope that this small effort will assist in the ongoing fight
>>>believing homosexual people are involved in, for inclusion in their
>>> This paper is my responsibility: it does not in any formal way,
>>>reflect the views of Or Shalom Congregation or its leadership, of the
>>>United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism or its constituent members, or
>>>of any particular organization. Please acknowledge the use of this in any
>>>republication. As a side note, I have, in writing this, tried to avoid
>>>the uses of the terms, 'gay' or 'straight'. To be gay means also to be
>>>happy: to be straight, means also to be narrow.
>>> About the author
>>> I am a retired teacher and high school counselor, married with 3
>>>children. I have an honors B.A. from Victoria University of Wellington,
>>>an M.A. from the University of Windsor, and a B.Ed. from the University
>>>of Toronto, all in political science; and a Post-Baccalaureate
>>>Certificate in Education, in counseling psychology, from the University
>>>of Manitoba. My human rights involvement is life-long: I am a past
>>>vice-president of the Saskatchewan Association on Human Rights, and
>>>served a 6 month term as a human rights officer for the Saskatchewan
>>>Human Rights Commission. My 16 years in municipal and provincial
>>>government included 4 years as an educational planner, and 10 as a
>>>pension supervisor. For the past 3 years, I have been volunteering as a
>>>counselor on the internet, coordinating a program to work with homosexual
>>> My Jewish involvement is also life-long. I have been an active
>>>congregant in Orthodox synagogues in Wellington, New Zealand, Windsor and
>>>Hamilton, Ontario, Regina, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, Manitoba; and
>>>Conservative congregations in Winnipeg, and London, Ontario. You may
>>>contact me at ***@sympatico.ca.
>>> American Psychiatric Association (1996) Gay and Lesbian Issues.
>>> American Psychological Association (1996) Answers to your Questions
>>>About Sexual Orientation And Homosexuality.
>>> Anonymous. (1993). Gayness and God: Wrestlings of an Orthodox
>>>Rabbi. Tikkun 8 (5)
>>> Anonymous. (1996). The Reform Jewish perspective on gay and lesbian
>>>marriage: the recent CCAR resolution.
>>> Anonymous. (1996). One Foot in the Closet and One Foot Out, at the
>>>Jewish Theological Seminary. New Voices. March 4.
>>> Balka, C., and Rose, A. (eds). (1989). Twice Blessed: On Being
>>>Lesbian or Gay and Jewish. Boston: Beacon Press
>>> Bazelon, E. (1996). Secrets of the Temple. New Republic, May 6.
>>> Blutinger, J. (1996) email to ***@shamash.org, Subject: to'evah
>>> Boswell, J. (1994). Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe. New York.
>>> Boteach, S. (1993) Reinterpreting Homosexuality as Human Sexuality
>>>(available from gopher)
>>> Bulka, R. and Spero, M.H. (eds) (1982) A Psychology-Judaism Reader.
>>>Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas
>>> Central Congress of American Rabbis (1989). Homosexuality and The
>>> Diament, C., ed. (1989). Jewish Marital Status: A Hadassah Study.
>>>London, Jason Aronson.
>>> Dorff, E. (1994) Sex, Values and the Law. Jerusalem Report, August
>>> Dorff , E., Newman, L.E. (eds.) (1995),Contemporary Jewish ethics
>>>and morality : a reader. New York: Oxford
>>> Dorff , E. (1995) This Is My Beloved, This Is My Friend: A Rabbinic
>>>Letter on Intimate Relations. New York. Rabbinical Assembly.
>>> Fierstein, H. (1981) Torch Song Trilogy. The Gay Presses of New
>>>York, also [Film] (1987), Paul Bogart, Producer
>>> Firestone, D., et al (1994) Education Against Homophobia.
>>> Flax, H. (1995) Sex, Lies & Hebrew School. Moment. 20(2)
>>> Goldfarb, R.S. (1995), United Synagogue Convention, submission to
>>>listserv gay jews <***@shamash.nysernet.org>, Nov 6.
>>> Goldstein, H. (n.d.), Understand What It Means To Be Created in the
>>>Image of God, in Being A Blessing: 54 Ways You Can Help People Living
>>>With AIDS , Alef Design Group
>>> Greenberg, B. (1981). On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition.
>>>Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society
>>> Grishaver, J. L. (n.d.), Queer Halakhah. Unpublished paper
>>> Herring, B. (1984). Jewish Ethics and Halakhah for Our Time:
>>>Sources and Commentary. New York, Ktav
>>> Jewish Publication Society (1985). Tanakh: A new Translation of the
>>>Holy Scriptures According to the Traditional Hebrew Text. Philadelphia.
>>> Kantrowitz, B. (1996) Gay Families Come Out. Newsweek, November 4.
>>> Kellner, M. M., ed. (1978) Contemporary Jewish Ethics. New York:
>>> Kelman, S. (1995) Community and Diversity: A Teshuvah on Gay and
>>>Lesbian Couples at Congregation Netivot Shalom. Berkeley, CA.
>>> Knisley, J. (1996) Religion and Homosexuality: A Christian
>>> Latz, M. (1996). Affirmed But Waiting at Hebrew Union College. New
>>>Voices. March 4.
>>> Leder, S. (1995) The Real Abominations. Jewish Journal, May 4.
>>> Lerner, M. (1994), Jewish Renewal: A path to Healing and
>>>Transformation. New York: Harper
>>> Lerner, M. (1993), Curing Homophobia & Other Conservative
>>>Pathologies. Tikkun 8 (5)
>>> Magonet, J. (ed) (1995). Jewish explorations of sexuality .
>>>Providence, RI: Berghahn
>>> Plaskow, J. (1990). Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a
>>>Feminist Perspective. San Francisco. Harper & Row.
>>> Raphael, L. (1990), Dancing on Tisha b'Av, New York , St. Martin's
>>> Raphael , L. (1992) Winter Eyes .New York, St. Martin's Press
>>> Raphael , L. (1996) Journeys & Arrivals: On Being Gay and Jewish.
>>>Boston: Faber and Faber
>>> Romanoff, L. (1990) Your People, My People: Finding Acceptance and
>>>Fulfillment as a Jew by Choice. Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society
>>> Rothman, J. (1996) Judaism, Homosexuality, and Political Activism:
>>>Analyzing the Need for Diversity in Approaching Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual
>>>Politics. Unpublished paper.
>>> Schwartz, B.D. (n.d.) The Jewish View of Homosexuality.
>>> Shanks, H. (ed.) (1993). Homosexuality and Judaism. [Special Issue]
>>>Moment, 18 (3)
>>> Springer, J., et al (1995, 6), Re: Conservative movement,
>>>submission to listserv gay jews <***@shamash.nysernet.org>
>>> Strassfield, S. and S. (eds). (1976) The Second Jewish Catalog.
>>>Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society
>>> Torkelson, J. (1995). Rabbis to Relax Morality Rules: Conservative
>>>Jews Tackle Sexual Issues in New Report, in Rocky Mountain News, August
>>> Treadaway, D. (1996) Berner offers Jewish Approach to Issues of
>>>Sexual Expression. New Voices. March 4.
>>> Tucker, S. (1995). Our Queer World. The Humanist. January/February.
>>> Union of American Hebrew Congregations. (1995). A Resolution on
>>>Promoting Equal Employment and Leadership Opportunities for Lesbians and
>>>Gays in the Reform Movement.
>>> Zelizer, G.L. (1995). Conservative Rabbis, their movement, and
>>>American Judaism. Judaism. 3(292)
>>> Return to Top
>>> Congregation Beth Am
>>> 26790 Arastradero Rd
>>> Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
>>> Phone: 650-493-4661
>>> Email: ***@betham.org
>>>"Lawrence Glickman" <***@comcast.net> wrote in message
>>>: On Thu, 24 Mar 2005 06:58:31 GMT, ren#***@anglic#n.org (The +Revd)
>>>: >On Thu, 24 Mar 2005 08:43:53 +0200, "Riain Barton/øéòéï áøúåï"
>>>: ><***@zion.org.il> wrote:
>>>: >>Baruch HaShish!!!!!!!!
>>>: >Why are you babbling in yiddish, you bent Irish fairy?
>>>: >>You fucking filthy piece of dung!
>>>: >You fucking filthy little shirtlifter!
>>>: I don't know if Rainman is aware of this, but
>>>: FUCKING MEN IN THE ASS WITH YOUR PENIS
>>>: is an "Abomination" in the eyes of The Lord.
>>>: G-d have mercy on this individual's soul.
>>>: He commits heinous crimes of Satanic Proportions, and thinks G-d will
>>>: not know about it. Rainman is a deranged _fool_. Condemned by his
>>>: un-natural Satanic Perversions.