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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

Gay and Lesbian Rights: How Jews See It

Conservative Judaism liberalizes its policy on lesbians and gays

How this page is organized: Jewish opposition to the federal gay marriage amendment | In the News | US Jews respond to LGBT issues in Israel | Comment on LGBT rights and marriage equality | Reform Judaism -- statements and documents on LGBT rights | Conservative Judaism liberalizes its policy on homosexuals | Conservative rabbi and congregation plan first-time honor of gay couple | Orthodox Judaism

We would also like to suggest that you take a look at Julien's List Resource Page, which has assembled a prodigious list of sources and resources for and about LGBT Jews.

US Jews respond to LGBT issues in Israel

Conversation with Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
Rabbi and congregation supported WorldPride in Jerusalem, protested ultra-Orthodox demonstration in NY against Pride event in Israel

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, New York, interviewed by Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, JewsOnFirst.org co-director, November 28, 2006

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, who leads the world's largest GLBT congregation, Beth Simchat Torah, served as world co-chair of Jerusalem WorldPride -- a series of conferences and cultural events held in Jerusalem last August. In November, threats of violence and riots by ultra-orthodox "fundamentalists" forced a rescheduled parade (postponed because of the war with Lebanon) into a stadium.

In the recorded conversation, Kleinbaum recounts what happened in Manhattan on November 9th, when tens of thousands of Satmar hasidim were bused in to demonstrate outside Israel's consulate. They called for the death penalty for LGBT people and spat at the small group that Congregation Beth Simchat Torah hastily mobilized. Kleinbaum, who was recently named by the Forward Jewish weekly newspaper as one of the nation's 50 most important Jews, said she was arrested for simply standing on the sidewalk.

Kleinbaum also notes that opposition to GLBT rights is unifying "all the fundamentalists -- Christians and Muslims and Jews." Please use the player or click here to listen to the 20-minute conversation.

Congregation Beth Simchat Torah has posted a number of documents and links to reports on WorldPride and the November 9th event. Please click here.

Local Jews Clash Over Pride in Israel
Jerusalem march nixed; rally held at stadium instead

By Brenda Gazzar, New York Blade, November 20, 2006

JERUSALEM — A tame, but festive, Gay Pride rally was held Friday, Nov. 10, without its parade at a university stadium in Jerusalem under tight security. The event followed several days of violent protests and public disturbances by some in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community who did not want a Pride march through the center of Jerusalem.

In New York City, thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews protested the the planned march by rallying Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan. In response, members of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST), the world’s largest LGBT synagogue, held a peaceful demonstration to show support for gay Israelis.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of CBST was arrested at the Thursday event for creating a public disturbance. "It was bizarre that I was arrested and that we were physically removed from the area when we were acting legally and following police orders," said Kleinbaum. She received a summons to appear in court next month. Continue.

The gay question and the Jewish question

By Yoav Sivan, Haaretz (Israeli Newspaper English Language Version), December 11, 2006

The recently published "Forward Fifty" list of the most influential members of the American Jewish community for 2006 should remind us again how pivotal is the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community to the agenda of the Jewish community in America: The word "gay" appears in five different entries, making the acceptance and inclusion of LGBT people the bench mark of advancement and relevance for Jewish institutions. It should also remind us of the distance, in political concepts and not merely in miles, between the Jewish communities of America and Israel.

Last Wednesday provided another example of the widening gap between the world's two biggest Jewish communities, and showed the American Jewish establishment is way ahead of the Jewish State in seriously addressing the status of homosexuals in Jewish life. At the same time as the Conservative Movement's Committee on Law and Standards reached its groundbreaking decision of recognition of same-sex union and on the ordination of openly gay rabbis, the Knesset voted against the registration of same-sex couples who were married abroad. Continue.

Jerusalem’s Pride Divide

Op-ed by Isi Leibler, Forward, November 24, 2006

The passionate controversy over the gay pride parade planned for Jerusalem earlier this month brought to a head the worst aspects of life in Israel. The storm can be viewed as a microcosm of the decadent trends that have steadily infiltrated our society, dramatically highlighting the ability of minority groups to polarize and hijack the national agenda.

The truth is that the vast majority of Jerusalemites — secular as well as religious — were opposed to holding a gay parade in their city. Had their views been taken into account, the ugly confrontation would have been stillborn.

Israel’s aggressively interventionist Supreme Court, which denies Jews the right to pray on the Temple Mount on the grounds that it infringes Muslim sensitivities, resolved that prohibiting such a parade represented a denial of freedom of expression. Despite being aware that last year three gay marchers were stabbed by hostile observers during a previous parade, the court merely added the caveat that the parade could be cancelled if it represented a threat to public order. Continue.

We Stopped The March - For Now

By: Rabbi Yehuda Levin, Jewish Press (right-wing paper in Brooklyn), November 15, 2006

After three years of nearly non-stop effort – years spent speaking to rabbis, getting Knesset members to motivate their colleagues, reaching out to Muslim clergy, to the pope, and ultimately to the heretofore uninformed masses of haredim and datiyim – the cholent I cooked up together with a handful of activists such as Jerusalem Councilwoman Mina Fenton, activist Efrayim Holtzberg, and Dr. Daisy Stern finally came to a boil.

On Friday afternoon, November 10, together with a cameraman filming a documentary about the conflict, I managed to get through three police checkpoints around the Givat Ram stadium where the Jerusalem homosexual rally was taking place. Although I was stopped at the entrance to the stadium, I was allowed to remain there for approximately one hour during which I spoke to Israeli and Arab reporters as well as those from The New York Times, Reuters, and other media outlets. Afterward, I went to CNN headquarters where I had an 8-minute interview that was seen around the world.

But the people who really made the parade not happen were a few hundred teenagers disenchanted with the continuing spiritual rape of Jerusalem by a small cadre of homosexual militants who were not satisfied with having a homosexual bar, a homosexual nightlife and subculture, and a homosexual city councilman, but demanded that Jerusalem yield to an annual parade and an international LBTG convention as well. Continue.

Gay Parade Scheduled To Take Place In Jerusalem

By: Avraham Shmuel Lewin, Jewish Press (right-wing paper in Brooklyn), November 8, 2006

JERUSALEM – The upcoming Gay Pride Parade will take place on Friday in Jerusalem as scheduled, it was decided on Tuesday.

Following a meeting between police and the organizers of the parade, Jerusalem’s Open House, the sides agreed that the parade would begin at 11 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. Marchers will head from Kaplan St., through the government compound (the street connecting the Knesset and the Prime Minister’s Office), to the stadium at Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus, where a rally will be held.

The only remaining obstacle to the parade was a series of petitions filed with the High Court by various groups, as well as one submitted earlier Tuesday by Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Eli Yishai (Shas).

The Shas chairman urged the court to prevent the parade from going ahead, calling it a "march of abomination."

"The Gay Pride Parade will ignite the entire Middle East," Yishai said. Continue.

Gay 'Marriage' in Israel: Worse than Holocaust - Will Cause Terrorism Warns Rabbi Levin
Says "far worse to allow the homosexualization of the Holy Land than to give back land to the Arabs"

By John-Henry Westen, LifeSiteNews, November 21, 2006

BROOKLYN, NY, November 21, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In an interview today, LifeSiteNews.com spoke with Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the Special Emissary to Israel for The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada and The Rabbinical Alliance of America, about the Israeli' High Court of Justice's ruling today that homosexual couples married abroad will be registered as married couples in Israel.

Rabbi Levin recently returned from Jerusalem, where he represented over 1,000 Rabbis in a coalition of Christians, Jews, and Muslims who successfully stopped a homosexual WorldPride parade from taking place in the Holy City. He drew a link between the movement behind the parade and the 'marriage' decision. "My first reaction is 'I told you so, I warned you, I said this wasn't about a parade, it wasn't about an international convention, it was about the homosexualization of the Holy Land and by extension the Middle East," he said. Continue.

In the News

This election year, national battles being fought through local initiatives

By Ron Kampeas, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 24, 2006

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (JTA) — In an election year that already defies the dictum that “all politics are local,” U.S. Jewish groups are urging their voters to help decide national issues through a decidedly local means: the ballot initiative.

The message a number of national groups have sent to members is that the future of issues as diverse as abortion access, gay-partner rights, the death penalty, affirmative action and stem-cell research will play out Nov. 7 in local ballot initiatives. Continue.

Jewish opposition to the federal gay marriage amendment

Reform Jewish Movement Urges Senate to Oppose Federal Marriage Amendment

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, News Release, May 19, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 19, 2006 – Yesterday, in response to the Senate Judiciary Committee approval of the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism issued the following statement:

The Reform Jewish Movement calls on Senators to oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment when it comes to the Senate floor in an expected early June vote. S.J. Res. 1 would permanently enshrine discrimination into the Constitution by defining marriage “as a union between a man and a woman,” and thus denying same-sex couples the same government rights and responsibilities afforded to heterosexual couples.
The Federal Marriage Amendment constitutionally fetters an entire community of Americans, relegating them to second class citizenship. Religious institutions have the right to decide which partnerships they will and will not sanctify in their houses of worship. The government, however, should not codify the religious views of some, nor should it deny equal rights to all of its citizens.
The Reform Jewish Movement, inspired by the teaching in Genesis that all human beings are created “b’tzelem Elohim” -- in the Divine image, has a long history of welcoming gay and lesbian Jews into its congregations and communal life. The Reform Jewish Movement’s advocacy on behalf of the GLBT community includes legislative and judicial efforts to secure equal rights and opportunity, including the right to marry.

Go to the news release on the Religious Action Center's website.

Liberals Defend Gay Marriage As Religious Right

By Jennifer Siegel, Forward, May 26, 2006

With the Senate slated to vote in three weeks on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, an interfaith coalition of liberal clergy is arguing that the measure would violate their religious liberty.

The coalition, billed as Clergy for Fairness, opposes the Marriage Protection Amendment, which would constitutionally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Nearly two-dozen organizations — including the Alliance of Baptists and the Episcopal Church USA, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis, and several Sikh groups — belong to the coalition, which sent 35 religious leaders to Washington on Monday to meet with members of Congress. Click here

Clergy Condemn Anti-Gay Federal Amendment

by Doreen Brandt, 365Gay.com Washington Bureau, May 22, 2006

(Washington) As the US Senate prepares to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage several dozen Christian and Jewish leaders made the rounds on Capitol Hill Monday lobbying senators to reject the measure when it comes up for a vote about two weeks from now.

Click here for the report.

Clergy Group Aims to Block Gay Marriage Amendment

By Neela Banerjee, The New York Times, May 23, 2006

WASHINGTON, May 22 - An interfaith coalition of clergy members and lay leaders announced a petition drive on Monday aimed at blocking a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill on a vote along party lines last week, and the full Senate is expected to vote on it the week of June 5.

About 35 representatives of the coalition, Clergy for Fairness, said at a news conference that more than 1,600 clergy members had signed an online petition against the amendment. The group's Web site has postcards that lay people can print out and send to members of Congress. Continue

Please also see Clergy for Fairness Campaigns to Stop Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment Click here.

Comment on LGBT rights and marriage equality

Rosner's Blog
Same sex marriage and the Jewish dilemma

Shmuel Rosner, Chief U.S. Correspondent www.haaretz.com, June 6, 2006

Rossner examines how Jewish communities are (and are not) forging positions on gay marriage. He makes Indianapolis, where the Jewish community is drafting a position opposing a particularly egregious state marriage amendment, a case in point. Click here

Emerging Torah of Same-Sex Marriage

by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center, April 2006

Rabbi Waskow is director of The Shalom Center (www.shalomctr.org) and the author of a number of books on Jewish life and thought, including a section on sexuality in his book Down-to-Earth Judaism: Food, Money, Sex, & the Rest of Life. In this commentary on the Torah portion containing Leviticus 18: 22 and 20: 13, he explains the historical biblical context for sex, then asks: does this still apply? Waskow suggests that biological mulitplication in a crowded world ("be fruitful and multiply") and men ruling over women should no longer be the context, but rather sexuality as life-affirming, playful, and sacred. Please click here for the column, which originally appeared in the Jerusalem Report.

Federations Move Toward Gay Outreach

By Nathaniel Popper, Forward, May 12, 2006

A new study out of Denver found that gay Jews do not think that secular Jewish institutions are open to them, even though federation officials insisted that they are. Pioneers in gay outreach say that explicit efforts to welcome gays and lesbians into the federation world have stumbled forward hesitantly, confronting a steady fear that such initiatives would alienate longtime donors. While about a dozen federations have developed some outreach, most — including those in New York and Los Angeles — do not have any such program. Click here

Gays are not the real Sodomites
according to the Bible

by Richard Mahtis, Opednews.com, April 6, 2006

At the recent conference on the “War on Christians” Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition urged the participants to stop using the terms “homosexual” and “gay.” Sheldon recommended such as “sodomites” and “the perverted ones.” Actually, Sheldon would be far off-based to use Sodomites to describe homosexuals.

Let’s look at what the Bible says. God is angry with four Canaanite cities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim. He decides to destroy them because of how much the inhabitants were indulging their own selfish interests while ignoring the suffering of the poor and sick . But first, along with two angels, God meets with Abraham and his wife, Sarah. When Abraham learns God’s plans, he pleads with God and strikes a deal to save the death and destruction. God will spare the cities and inhabitants if but ten good men could be found in Sodom. Continue

See also: “Middat Sdom”: Lou Sheldon, Fred Phelps, and George W. Bush

By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D., Online Journal, April 11, 2006

Seesholtz comments on and cyber-annotates Mahtis's article. Click here

Constitutional Amendment Banning Same Sex Marriage Denies Religious Freedom

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Religion and Culture, March 1, 2004

President Bush has claimed, in calling for a constitutional amendment that would limit the definition of marriage, he will preserve "the cultural, religious and natural roots" of marriage. Mr. Bush, in the name of good will and decency, claims to understand what all religion has to say about marriage, and what is right for all religious and moral people.

But President Bush does not speak for all Americans. He does not speak for all people of faith. He does not speak for all religious traditions. I am an American citizen. I am a religious person. I am a lesbian and I am a rabbi. My religion teaches that every person, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and straight, is created in the image of God. It teaches that love between people is holy. Continue

Reform Judaism -- statements and documents on LGBT rights

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism resources on the anti-gay federal marriage amendment of 2004

Click here for position statements and other documents organized by the Religious Action Center in opposition to this discriminatory federal legislation.

Union for Reform Judaism, other Jewish organizations sign pro-marriage brief
Jews join other religiously affiliated organizations in litigation for California recognition of same-sex marriage

"The brief explains that the constitutional principle of religious freedom supports the right of same-sex couples to marry. Because there are no legitimate secular reasons for the State to deny gay couples the profound, state-sanctioned rituals of marriage, the State's licensing of heterosexual unions only offends the core mandate of religious neutrality." Read the brief and the list of organizations on the Lambda Legal website.

Click here for a list of all the briefs filed in the case.

Conservative Judaism liberalizes its policy on lesbians and gays

Please note: earlier reports on the movement's deliberations are below.

Conservative seminary moves to allow gay, lesbian students

by Ben Harris, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 26, 2007

NEW YORK (JTA) -- After months of deliberation, the Jewish Theological Seminary has decided to accept qualified gay and lesbian students to its rabbinical and cantorial schools.

The move was enabled by a December decision by the Conservative movement's legal authorities to reverse the movement's traditional ban on gay clergy.

Arnold Eisen, the seminary's chancellor-elect, announced the decision March 26 in an e-mail to the JTS community. Continue.

Issue of gay ordination still open despite signals in favor, leaders say

By Ben Harris, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 31, 2007

NEW YORK, Jan. 31 (JTA) — Leaders of the Jewish Theological Seminary insist the ordination of gay rabbis is not a foregone conclusion despite the appointment of a rabbinical school dean committed to the move and a recent survey showing that a majority in the Conservative movement would support the step. The seminary’s incoming chancellor, Arnold Eisen, said a survey of movement leaders released Wednesday is just “one factor among many” in his decision whether to admit openly gay students to the JTS rabbinical and cantorial schools. Continue.

Majority In Conservative Judaism Support Gay Ordinations Survey Finds

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff, January 31, 2007

(New York City) A national survey of Conservative Jews has found a majority support a ruling last month that permits the ordination of gay rabbis and blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.

The poll was commissioned by The Jewish Theological Seminary in cooperation with the United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly. Continue.

Conservatives OK Gay Ordination
Landmark decision comes though ban upheld in separate position paper; 4 law committee members resign.

Stewart Ain, New York Jewish Week, December 6, 2006

Homosexual Jews may now be ordained as Conservative rabbis and rabbis now may perform same-sex unions, according to a landmark ruling Wednesday by the movement’s rabbinical committee that interprets Jewish law.

At the same time, the committee also upheld the current ban on gay rabbis or teachers, or other leadership positions.

The split decision, rendered after two days of deliberations here by the 25-member Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, was made possible because five position papers were considered and each needed only six votes to be considered valid. Continue.

Breaking: Conservative Panel Votes To Permit Gay Rabbis
Four Committee Members Resign To Protest Decision

By Rebecca Spence, Forward, December 6, 2006

In a historic vote, leaders of Conservative Judaism on Wednesday approved a rabbinic opinion allowing ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis and sanctioning same-sex unions.

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards — the 25-member lawmaking body of the Conservative movement — opted to follow the rabbinic tradition of approving separate, mutually contradictory opinions, each of which is now sanctioned as normative Conservative practice. Of the three papers approved, the most permissive, authored by Rabbi Elliott Dorff, opens the door for gay rabbis and same-sex unions, but retains certain biblical bans on homosexual activity. Also vetted were two opinions that uphold the ban on ordaining gay rabbis, one submitted by Rabbi Joel Roth, and another, more extreme opinion submitted by Rabbi Leonard Levy.

Four of the most conservative members resigned the committee in protest: Roth, Levy, Mayer Rabinowitz and Joseph Prouser. Continue.

Conflicting Conservative opinions expected to open the way for gays

By Ben Harris, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, December 6, 2006

NEW YORK, Dec. 6 (JTA) — Even before the ink was dry on the Conservative movement’s decision to accept gay rabbis and allow same-sex commitment ceremonies, its impact was already being felt. Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the movement’s congregational arm, immediately announced that he was recommending a change in the organization’s hiring practices, which had required employees to be observant of Jewish law — effectively barring gay men and lesbians. Continue.

Coming Out For Gays At JTS?
Conservative movement expected to approve gay ordination next week, but details, fallout unknown.

Debra Nussbaum Cohen, The Jewish Week, December 1, 2006

With the Jewish Theological Seminary on the verge of an historic break with tradition -- the potential ordaining of openly gay and lesbian rabbis and sanctioning of same-sex unions -- the school’s faculty, administrators and students were bracing this week for the possible fallout.

The rabbinic committee that interprets Jewish law for the Conservative movement -- North America’s second-largest Jewish denomination -- will meet Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss five different religious opinions, some or none of which may be adopted. Continue

Conservative Rabbis To Decide on Gay Unions, Ordination

by Rebecca Spence, Forward, December 1, 2006

As leaders of Conservative Judaism prepare to gather for next week’s long-awaited vote on ordaining gay rabbis and sanctioning same-sex unions, a prominent liberal rabbi has thrown a wild card into the mix with the last-minute submission of a radically different proposal.

The widespread assumption in recent months has been that the movement’s 25-member lawmaking body — the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards — is set to approve two conflicting opinions, a talmudic practice that leaves individual congregations free to choose between them. Continue.

Conservative decision on gays will be a watershed, either way

By Ben Harris, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 28, 2006

NEW YORK, Nov. 28 (JTA) — Whatever decision the Conservative movement reaches next week on its approach to homosexuality, it will be a watershed.

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, the movement’s highest legal authority, is expected to vote on five separate teshuvot, or responsa, that range from a complete overturn of the traditional prohibition on homosexual intercourse to a restatement of the committee’s 1992 decision upholding the ban.

Implicit in those opinions are views on whether gays and lesbians should be ordained as rabbis and whether Conservative clergy can officiate at commitment ceremonies. Continue.

The Conservative Movement and Homosexuality
Finding a Middle Path

Aaron L. Mackler, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Fall/Winter 2006

I treasure the Torah and halakhah as precious. They represent the main ways by which I know what God wants me to do. Indeed, I believe that they represent the main ways by which we know what God wants us to do. God has entered into a covenant of love with klal Yisrael, the community of the Jewish people. Together we are called to live a life of holiness. As God commands the community of Israel in the book of Leviticus, kedoshim tihyu, "you shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy." Continue

The Conservative Movement and Sexuality
Settled Law in Unsettling Times

Joseph H. Prouser, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (undated)

As discussion of our religious response to homosexuality continues among Conservative Jews and within the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, there is much about which all parties to the debate are in absolute agreement.

We all agree that homosexuals have the same rights and responsibilities, and bear the same sanctity, as all other Jews. We all agree that fellow Jews and congregations have a sacred duty eagerly to facilitate the spiritual growth and lovingly to welcome the participation of gay men and women -- as we do all other Jews -- in personal Jewish observance and learning, and in the religious and social lives of our communities.

We all agree that Jewish tradition imposes a uniquely daunting challenge on homosexual Jews, which other Jews must view with humility and understanding, yet with which heterosexuals cannot fully identify. We all agree that it is sinful to condemn others based solely on their sexual orientation.

We also all agree that for three millennia, from the time of the Torah to our own day, Jewish law has consistently, and with particular stringency, prohibited all acts of homosexual intimacy, describing violation of this norm with unmistakable terms of opprobrium. All parties to our debate agree that we are contemplating not merely "reversing Conservative movement policy," as the media -- naively or disingenuously -- have asserted. Candor and clarity are essential: Proposed changes in the halachic status of homosexual conduct would overturn 3000 years of unambiguous legal precedent. Continue

Panel faces tough debate on gay Jews
Rabbinical council will review bans on homosexual rabbis and same-sex rites.

By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2006

Rabbi Elliot Dorff concedes that his opinions about ordaining gays and restricting some sexual activity are likely to upset both traditionalists and liberals in Judaism's Conservative movement.

In a much-anticipated event, an international rabbinical council is scheduled next week to debate and vote on possibly dropping the unevenly enforced bans against gay rabbis and same-sex commitment ceremonies.

Dorff, rector of the University of Judaism in Bel-Air and a well-known bioethicist, is one of the lead authors of a position paper that would end the bans. But, keeping some tradition of rabbinical interpretation of the Bible, his proposal would prohibit anal sex between men. Other forms of consensual, monogamous sex would be permitted. Continue.

Conservative Rabbis Reconsider Stance on Gay Sex

By Alan Cooperman, The Washington Post, December 1, 2006

After years of debate, the Conservative Jewish movement is on the verge of redefining its approach to homosexuality, a pivotal decision for a movement that occupies a shrinking middle ground between Orthodox and Reform Judaism.

A panel of 25 eminent Conservative rabbis will meet in New York next week to consider five proposed teshuvot, or answers, to the question of whether homosexual sex is permitted under Jewish law.

Although the answers have not been made public, Conservative leaders said that two defend the traditional position that Leviticus 18:22 -- "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination" -- prohibits homosexuality between men and, by extension, between women. Continue.

Are Yes and No Both "Living Options?" -- Not When the Bible Answers the Question

Dr. Albert Mohler, www.AlbertMohler.org, December 5, 2006

The Conservative Jewish movement is poised to redefine its position on the moral status of homosexuality, especially as related to the ordination of homosexual rabbis and the blessing of homosexual unions.

A panel of rabbis will meet December 5 and 6 in New York City in order to establish the movement's position on the moral status of homosexuality. But, strange as it may sound, the movement may adopt positions instead. Continue

Conservative Movement Seen Ending Ban On Gays
Gay rabbis, same-sex unions likely sanctioned but status quo ruling also expected; burden likely to fall on shuls.

Debra Nussbaum Cohen, The Jewish Week, September 1, 2006

In what will be a watershed moment for the Conservative movement — akin to admitting women into the rabbinate a generation ago — the ordination of openly gay and lesbian rabbis and the sanctioning of same-sex unions are likely to be approved by the denomination’s legal scholars, according to movement leaders. Continue

JTS Pick: 'Heschel My Hero,' Yes To Ordaining Gay Rabbis

By Jennifer Siegel, Forward, April 14, 2006

Arnold Eisen, the incoming chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, declares himself in favor of the Conservative Movement ordaining gay and lesbian rabbis. Click here for the report

A rabbi's struggle: To allow gay clergy or not?

By Gerald L. Zelizer, USA Today, April 30, 2006

Zelizer, a Conservative rabbi, writes that he has grown to oppose the ban on ordaining gay and lesbian rabbis as he has learned that homosexuality is inborn. He writes: "Gay/lesbian Jews are God's creatures, too. Some, like my cousin, are knowledgeable, observant Jews, qualified to be rabbis but prohibited because of a sexual preference not of their own making. It is time to lift the prohibition against gay rabbis by using the same blueprint that Judaism has employed to rectify other unjust religious dictums." Click here

Rabbis Lower Threshold for Changing Gay Policy

Forward, March 31, 2006

"MEXICO CITY — In a move that could make it easier to permit gay rabbis and same-sex unions, members of the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly voted March 22 to lower the threshold for approving major revisions to rabbinic and even biblical law." Click here for the report

Liberalizing Conservative Judaism's LGBT Policy Might Be a Ten-Year Process
Interview with Rabbi Elliot Dorff

by JewsOnFirst.org, March 14, 2006

March 14, 2006. It could be ten years before Judaism's Conservative movement adopts a policy permitting same-sex marriage and ordination of homosexuals, said Rabbi Elliot Dorff, rector and philosophy professor at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, who participated in deliberations on the policy earlier this month. But he also reminded us, during an interview, that the issue of gay rights only emerged into the public's consciousness in the 1990s. Click here to read the report.

Gay Issues Roil Rabbis In Advance Of Parley

By Jennifer Siegel, Forward, March 17, 2006

"On the eve of their annual convention, Conservative rabbis are locked in a fierce debate over whether movement leaders have employed improper tactics to preserve the ban on gay clergy and same-sex marriage." Click here for the report

Some Conservative Jews upset after decision is delayed on gays

By Chanan Tigay, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 8, 2006

"NEW YORK, March 13 (JTA) — The Conservative movement’s decision to delay a vote on its approach to homosexuality is angering members who want leaders to liberalize the movement’s stance on gays and lesbians. Click here for the report

Not So Fast On Gay Vote

By Larry Cohler-Esses, The Jewish Week (New York), March 10, 2006

This report based on an interivew with Rabbi Sue Grossman, head of a subcommittee of Conservative rabbis working on the issue of gay acceptance, explains the details of the policy-making process. Click here for the report.

Conservative Rabbis Postpone Gay Vote

By Jennifer Siegel, Forward, March 10, 2006

Conservative Judaism's lawmaking body postponed its vote on homosexuality amid complaints over raising the vote threshhold for passage of a new policy. Click here for the report.

Conservative Rabbis To Vote On Gay Issues

By Jennifer Siegel, Forward, March 3, 2006

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, a 25-member panel of rabbis and lay leaders, will convene next week in Maryland to revisit its 1992 consensus statement on homosexuality. In recent years, pressure to reopen the issue has come from lay people through the movement's congregational arm, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, as well as from rabbinical students and rabbis. Any change approved by the law committee is likely to force the issue of gay ordination onto center stage at the movement's seminaries. Click here for the report.

Conservative Jews to Consider Ending a Ban on Same-Sex Unions and Gay Rabbis

By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, March 6, 2006

"In a closed-door meeting this week in an undisclosed site near Baltimore, a committee of Jewish legal experts who set policy for Conservative Judaism will consider whether to lift their movement's ban on gay rabbis and same-sex unions.

"Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff has written a proposal that he says will 'enable gays and lesbians to have a love life sanctioned by Jewish law.'

"In 1992, this same group, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, declared that Jewish law clearly prohibited commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples and the admission of openly gay people to rabbinical or cantorial schools." Click here to read the report.

Conservative rabbi and congregation plan first-time honor of gay couple

A Message From Rabbi Rembaum
Prominent Conservative Rabbi writes that he will honor gay couple

Email message from Rabbi Joel Rembaum, Temple Beth Am, Los Angeles, March, 2006

In this message, Rabbi Joel Rembaum explains how, while the Conservative Movement delays voting on a new policy on gay relationships, he and the congregation's leadership came to the decision to honor and bless a gay couple. Click here to read Rabbi Rembaum's message.

Conservative Minyan OKs Gay Blessing

by Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Jewish Journal (Los Angeles), March 24, 2006

Members of Temple Beth Am’s Library Minyan voted on March 15 to allow a gay couple to receive a special blessing on Shabbat in anticipation of the couple’s commitment ceremony, marking the first time the Westside Conservative congregation has officially addressed how to handle a gay lifecycle event. Click here for the report.

Orthodox Judaism

Orthodox laud gay-marriage ruling

Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 7, 2006

An Orthodox Jewish organization hailed a New York court ruling upholding the state’s definition of marriage as between a man and woman

Agudath Israel of America praised Thursday’s 4-2 decision as a “pivotal, potentially critical development” in the modern-day battle over the meaning of marriage. “By refusing to go along with the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s radical redefinition of marriage, the New York Court of Appeals has served notice that there are limits to judicially instigated social revolutions,” said David Zwiebel, Agudath Israel’s executive vice president for government and public affairs.

A Massachusetts court recognized gay marriage two years ago. On Thursday, the Reform movement criticized the ruling.

The Gay Orthodox Underground
With support groups proliferating and a new film documenting their hardships, observant homosexuals are sending a simple message: It's OK to be Orthodox and gay.

Naomi Grossman, Moment Magazine, April 2001

A look at the world of discreetly out Orthodox gays. Click here to read the story.