Progressives welcome Conservative gay weddings (JERUSALEM POST) By JEREMY SHARON 06/03/12)
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Leaders of progressive Jewish movements in Israel as well as gay
rights groups welcomed the adoption by the Conservative Jewish
movement in the US of guidelines for wedding ceremonies for same-sex
The Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards -
which rules on the Conservative movement’s stance on matters of
Jewish law - voted on Thursday to provide the movement’s rabbis with
guidelines for performing same-sex ceremonies.
The Director of the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel Rabbi Andrew Sacks
said that the move will provide same sex Jewish couples in Israel the
opportunity to turn to a Masorti rabbi knowing that the they will
be “armed and prepared with the appropriate liturgy and blessings for
these commitment ceremonies.”
“It will also undoubtedly inspire religious gay couples to understand
that Judaism can indeed sanctify and bless those relationships,” he
Weddings conducted by non-Orthodox rabbis are not recognized by the
state, whether the couple is heterosexual or homosexual and no form
of same-sex marriage conducted in Israel is recognized.
Same-sex marriages performed abroad are however recognized and such
couples are entitled to almost all of the rights allotted to
The Rabbinical Assembly, based in New York, officially sanctioned gay
relationships in 2006, but stressed that rabbis were not obligated to
perform such ceremonies, but could do so and not be violating the
The movement published guidelines for two different same-sex wedding
ceremonies, a move taken to provide guidance for Conservative rabbis
asked to conduct them.
Reform Rabbi Uri Regev, director of the Hiddush religious freedom-
lobbying group in Israel, “wholeheartedly welcomed” the move,
describing it as an exciting development.
“This decision is in keeping with the trend that biblical
prohibitions treating homosexual relationships as abominable and
punishable by death are now obsolete,” Regev said. New insight into
human sexual behaviours, rooted in scientific discovery and respect
for human dignity, require new outlooks, and this is something which
these ceremonies provide.”
Regev added that the Reform movement has for a long time offered its
members gay unions with a religious ceremony comparable to that of
traditional Jewish marriage.
The Rabbinical Assembly stated regarding it’s decision that it
acknowledges that these partnerships “are distinct from those
discussed in the Talmud as ‘according to the law of Moses and
Israel,’” but said that Conservative Jewry nevertheless “celebrate[s]
them with the same sense of holiness and joy as that expressed in
The ceremony most resembling traditional marriage is conducted under
a hupa (wedding canopy) and uses what it calls a legal mechanism
distinct from kiddushin (Jewish marriage) to replicate the imagery of
a traditional wedding, although the ring declaration is a statement
of sacred partnership, not of acquisition.
Daniel Jonas, spokesman for the Havruta organization representing
Orthodox homosexuals in Israel, also welcomed the move.
“This kind of development is very important and helps advance the
global discourse within Jewry on the issue,” Jonas said.
“Havruta is an Orthodox movement and I’m not sure anything like this
can happen in the Orthodox world, but we welcome progress on this
issue within all communities.”
“It is not something we are pushing for within the realms of
halacha,” Jonas continued “but there is no doubt that these kind of
steps advance the standing of gay Jews and so this is an encouraging
Last month, Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz proposed a bill in Knesset to
introduce civil marriage in Israel, including for same-sex couples,
on the basis of equality and civil rights. It was however voted down
in the Knesset plenum. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 06/03/12)
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