Homosexuality and Judaism

Homosexuality and Judaism

The subject of homosexuality in Judaism dates back to the Biblical book of Leviticus. This describes sexual intercourse between males as an "abomination" that may be subject to capital punishment, although Halakhic courts are not authorized to administer capital punishment in the absence of a Temple in Jerusalem.

The issue has been a subject of contention within modern Jewish denominations and has led to debate and division. The prevalent view among Jews had been to regard homosexual intercourse as sinful, arguing that it is categorically forbidden by the Torah. This remains the current view of Orthodox Judaism, but not of Reconstructionist Judaism and Reform Judaism. Conservative Judaism's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, which until December 2006 held the same position as Orthodoxy, recently issued multiple opinions under its philosophy of pluralism, with one opinion continuing to follow the Orthodox position and another opinion substantially liberalizing its view of homosexuals and homosexual relationships while continuing to regard certain sexual acts as prohibited.

Homosexuality in the Hebrew Bible

The Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, reflects the Judaism of ancient Israel and serves as the primary source for traditional Jewish views on homosexuality.

The Torah prohibits men from having sex with other men. It states: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is a "to'evah" (Leviticus 18:22). (וְאֶת זָכָר לֹא תִשְׁכַּב מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה תּוֹעֵבָה הִוא) Leviticus 20:13 further states: "A man who lies with a male as one lies with a woman; the two of them have done a "to'evah"; they shall be put to death; their bloodguilt is upon them." (וְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב אֶת זָכָר מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה תּוֹעֵבָה עָשׂוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם מוֹת יוּמָתוּ דְּמֵיהֶם בָּם)

The term "to'eva" is usually translated as "abomination" and is used in the Bible to refer to a variety of forbidden acts including incest, idolatry, eating unclean animals, and economic injustice. In the context of sexual prohibitions, the word is also interpreted by the Talmud to be a contraction of the words תועה אתה בה "to'eh ata vah"("You are wandering astray with it"). Preceding this it states in Leviticus 18:3, "What is done in the land of Egypt, wherein you were settled, you are not to do; what is done in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you, you are not to do; by their laws you are not to walk". Rabbis later interpreted that as prohibiting lesbianism as well (see below).

In Samuel (I and II), the Biblical text described the relation between David and Jonathan in terms of love, comparing it to the love between man and woman. Some modern scholars have ascribed sexual significance to these passages, [Peleg, Yaron. "Love at First Sight? David, Jonathan, and the Biblical Politics of Gender" "Journal for the Study of the Old Testament". 30:171-189, 2005. See also sources cited by Peleg, who argues that "the text sexualizes the relations between Jonathan and David, and then destabilizes these relations until it finally reverses them to portray Jonathan as David’s ‘female bride’." Peleg does not describe the relationship as homosexual, in contrast to several other Biblical scholars who consider it at least homoerotic.] while traditional interpretations overwhelmingly reject any such interpretation. For example, after David killed Goliath and spoke with Saul, the Bible relates:

Jonathan's soul became bound to David's soul, and Jonathan loved him as [he loved] his own soul. Saul took him that day and did not allow him to return home. Jonathan and David made a covenant because he loved him as [much as] himself. Jonathan removed the coat that was on him and gave it to David, and his suit and even his sword and even his bow and even his belt. David went wherever Saul sent him, and would be successful. Saul put him in charge of the soldiers. He was good in the eyes of the entire nation and in the eyes of the Saul's ministers.
Even though Jonathan was the crown prince, he was able to allow David to assume authority that was rightfully his own because of his great love for him. On Jonathan's passing King David eulogized him: "I have great pain over you, my brother Jonathan, you were very pleasant to me, your love for me was more wondrous than the love of women." (II Samuel 1:26)

There is, however, no evidence that Biblical passages about the relationship between David and Jonathan, or the sexual significance some modern academic scholars have ascribed to it, influenced either historical or contemporary Jewish views on the subject of homosexuality, or were thought of as having a homoerotic character in Jewish religious thought.

Rabbinic Jewish application and interpretation of these verses

Death penalty not carried out in practice

Rabbinic Judaism does not believe that the above verses refer to what is nowadays described as a homosexual inclination, nor do these verses refer to lesbian sexual activity. Instead, these verses specifically refer to a willing act of anal sex between two male Jews.

According to Specify|date=January 2008 Rabbinic interpretation understands the Torah prohibition of "Lo tikrevu legalot ervah" ("You shall not come close [to another person] to uncover nakedness") to forbid all sexual acts which can lead to forbidden intercourse, and prescribes the punishment of lashes. Fact|date=January 2008 But according to Specify|date=January 2008, this verse is not written in conjunction with Homosexuality, rather it is referring to the forbidden incest marriages. The major sources of Halacha (Jewish law) such as the Rambam (Maimonides) and the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) only quote that law in reference to the forbidden family marriages. Fact|date=January 2008

However, even in Biblical times, it was very difficult to get a conviction that would lead to this prescribed punishment. The Jewish oral law states that capital punishment would only be applicable if two men were caught in the act of anal sex, if there were two witnesses to the act, if the two witnesses warned the men involved that they committed a capital offense, and the two men subsequently acknowledged the warning, but proceeded to engage in the prohibited act anyway. As such, it is not surprising that there is no account of capital punishment, in regards to this law, in Jewish history.

In any case, rabbinic tradition understand the Torah's system of capital punishment not to be in effect in the absence of a Sanhedrin and Temple. However, the severity of the punishment may indicate the seriousness with which the act was seen in Biblical times.

Lesbian sexual activity

Although there is no direct textual prohibition of homosexual acts between women (lesbianism) in the entirety of the Torah, such behaviour is widely viewed as forbidden by most rabbis based on a Drash interpretation of the Biblical verse "Do not follow the ways of Egypt where you once lived, nor of Canaan, where I will be bringing you. Do not follow any of their customs." (Leviticus 18:3).

A midrash, Sifra Aharei Mot 8:8–9, states that this refers to sexual customs, and that one of those customs was the marriage of women to each other, as well as a man to a woman and to her daughter. Maimonides, in his "Mishneh Torah", summarizes the matter as follows: ["Issurei Bi'ah" 21:8–9 [http://www.mechon-mamre.org/i/5121.htm] ]

For women to be "mesollelot" with one another is forbidden, as this is the practice of Egypt, which we were warned against: "Like the practice of the land of Egypt . . . you shall not do" (Leviticus 18:3). The Sages said [in the midrash of Sifra Aharei Mot 8:8–9] , "What did they do? A man married a man, and a woman married a woman, and a woman married two men."

Even though this practice is forbidden, one is not lashed [as for a Torah prohibition] on account of it, since there is no specific prohibition against it, and there is no real intercourse. Therefore, [one who does this] is not forbidden to the priesthood because of harlotry, and a woman is not prohibited to her husband by this, since it is not harlotry. But it is appropriate to administer to them lashings of rebellion [i.e., those given for violation of rabbinic prohibitions] , since they did something forbidden. And a man should be strict with his wife in this matter, and should prevent women known to do this from coming to her or from her going to them.

Classical rabbinic Jewish sources do not specifically mention that homosexual "attraction" is inherently sinful (though it is regarded as unnatural). However, someone who has had homosexual "intercourse" is seen to have allowed their "unnatural attractions" to get the better of them, and it is thus believed that they would be held accountable by God for their actions. If he does teshuva (repentance), i.e. he ceases his forbidden actions, regrets what he has done, apologizes to God, and makes a binding resolution never to repeat those actions, he is seen to be forgiven by God (in a similar manner to the other capital crimes, excepting murder). Fact|date=January 2008

Teachings of Kabbalah

Hasidic Judaism views homosexuality as a grave sin. Accepting Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, as normative, it believes that heterosexual intercourse is a holy act, because it has the potential to lead to new life, and because heterosexual sex mimics the mechanism through which God created the universe. When a male and a female perform this act, they evoke creative spiritual energies, similar to ones that were used to create the Universe. This creation mechanism involved two opposite partners (male and female aspects of Divinity known as zachar and Nahkayvah [pronounced n-kAy-vah] ), a source of life-force and a recipient of it. The sexual act which evokes the male creative energy on the male side must, therefore, also involve evocation of female creative energies, even if the specific act will not lead to birth in the physical reality. If it is done properly, it results in one of the holiest activities in a Jew's life.

Therefore, a homosexual act is wrong not because it does not result in a birth (in Judaism, a sexual act that does not result in a birth is not forbidden, such as when the wife is pregnant, barren, or using contraceptives), but because it invokes holy spiritual forces which are then used in an unnatural way (from the Creation's point of view), between two partners that are of the same sex. Therefore, only male homosexuality (which involves the intercourse) is Biblically forbidden; female homosexuality is forbidden for different reasons and in general is much less serious sin. (As a matter of fact, the exact same explanation can be used to explain Kabbalistic view of masturbation and why it is forbidden).Fact|date=January 2008

Orthodox Jewish views

While a variety of views regarding homosexuality as an inclination or status exist within the Orthodox Jewish community, Orthodox Judaism generally prohibits homosexual conduct. While there is disagreement about which acts come under core prohibitions, all of Orthodox Judaism puts certain core homosexual acts, including male-male anal sex in the category of "yehareg ve'al ya'avor", "die rather than transgress", the small category of Biblically-prohibited acts (also including murder, idolatry, adultery, and incest) which an Orthodox Jew is obligated under the laws of Self-sacrifice under Jewish Law to die rather than do.

According to Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, former president of Yeshiva University, halakha prohibits homosexuality to non-Jews as well as to Jews. [http://www.jonahweb.org/cms/e/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=78&Itemid=42]

Haredi Orthodox view

Rabbi Benjamin Hecht writes that some Orthodox rabbis view homosexuality as a deliberate rebellion against God.:Rav Moshe Feinstein, in Iggrot Moshe, Orach Chaim, Part 4, Responsa 115, adopted a very strong position against homosexuality. Human drives are necessary although they must be controlled. Since there is no purpose for the homosexual drive, Rav Moshe contends, it must not be a true drive. Therefore, the underlying reason for gay behavior, he argues, must be to rebel against G-d, to wish to do something forbidden (perhaps, implying some innate knowledge of its forbidden nature). [Nishma Uodated June 1992. Inquiry with Rabbi Benjamin Hecht Homosexuality: Is There a Unique Torah Perspective? http://www.nishma.org/topics/ethics/sexuality/update_92-06.html ]

Modern Orthodox view

In recent years some within Modern Orthodox Judaism have begun re-evaluating homosexuality as a phenomenon, and the Orthodox community's response to homosexual Jews. Traditionally, homosexuals have been considered to have chosen to engage in homosexual actions in order to spite God ("le-hach'is") or to be perverse. Beginning in the 1970s and influenced by new perspectives in the sociological and biological sciences, some Orthodox rabbis began to adopt less unsympathetic positions. Rabbi Dr. Immanuel Jakobovits, in his entry "Homosexuality" in the "Encyclopedia Judaica" (Keter Publishing), describes the traditional opinion in this way:

Jewish law [...] rejects the view that homosexuality is to be regarded merely as a disease or as morally neutral.... Jewish law holds that no hedonistic ethic, even if called "love", can justify the morality of homosexuality any more than it can legitimize adultery or incest, however genuinely such acts may be performed out of love and by mutual consent.

Rabbi Norman Lamm (the Chancellor, a "rosh yeshiva" ["head of the yeshiva"] , and former president of Yeshiva University, a major Modern Orthodox Jewish institution) advocated [ [http://www.jonahweb.org/sections.php?secId=90 "Judaism and the Modern Attitude to Homosexuality"] ] that some (although not all) homosexuals should be viewed as diseased and in need of compassion and treatment, rather than willful rebels who should be ostracized. He distinguishes between six varieties of homosexuals, including "genuine homosexuals" who have "strong preferential erotic feelings for members of the same sex", "transitory" and "situational" homosexuals who would prefer heterosexual intercourse but are denied it or seek gain in homosexuality, and heterosexuals who are merely curious. Lamm explains:

Clearly, genuine homosexuality experienced under duress (Hebrew: ones) most obviously lends itself to being termed pathological especially where dysfunction appears in other aspects of personality. Opportunistic homosexuality, ideological homosexuality, and transitory adult homosexuality are at the other end of the spectrum, and appear most reprehensible....

Where the category of mental illness does apply, the act itself remains to´evah (an abomination), but the fact of illness lays upon us the obligation of pastoral compassion, psychological understanding, and social sympathy. In these sense, homosexuality is no different from any other social or anti-halakhic act ...

An example of a criminal act that is treated with compassion by the Halakhah, which in practice considers the act pathological rather than criminal, is suicide.... in the course of time, the tendency has been to remove the stigma from the suicide on the basis of mental disease....

The suicide analogy should not, of course, lead one to conclude that there are grounds for a blanket exculpation of homosexuality as mental illness.... people do not ordinarily propose that suicide be considered an acceptable and legitimate alternative to the rigors of daily life. No sane and moral person sits passively and watches a fellow man attempt suicide because he "understands" him and because it has been decided that suicide is a "morally neutral" act. By the same token, in orienting ourselves to certain types of homosexuals as patients rather than criminals, we do not condone the act but attempt to help the homosexual. Under no circumstances can Judaism suffer homosexuality to become respectable.

When an Orthodox Rabbi, Steven Greenberg, publicly announced that he was homosexual, there was a significant response from rabbis of all denominations reported in the Jewish newspapers. Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a leading rabbi at Yeshiva University, stated "It is very sad that an individual who attended our yeshiva sunk to the depths of what we consider a depraved society,"

:Tendler said that Rabbi Greenberg's announcement is "the exact same as if he said, 'I'm an Orthodox Rabbi and I eat ham sandwiches on Yom Kippur.' What you are is a Reform Rabbi." [Rabbi Ordained by Yeshiva University Announces He is Gay. Israel Wire, May 18, 1999 21:01. http://www.israelwire.com/New/990518/99051844.html ]

Sandi Simcha Dubowski's movie "Trembling Before G-d" (2001) documented the experiences of several homosexual Modern Orthodox and Haredi Jews. No Haredi Orthodox group spoke out in favor of the film. The spokesperson for Agudath Israel of America, Rabbi Avi Shafran, attacked the film with an article "Dissembling Before G-d", maintaining that gay people can be cured through therapy, and that the movie is meant to promote homosexuality:

:Unfortunately, though, "Trembling" seems to have other intents as well. While it never baldly advocates the case for broader societal acceptance of homosexuality or for the abandonment of elements of the Jewish religious tradition, those causes are subtly evident in the stark, simplistic picture the film presents of sincere, conflicted and victimized men and women confronted by a largely stern and stubborn cadre of rabbis.:That picture is both incomplete and distorted. For starters, the film refuses to even allow for the possibility that men and women with homosexual predilections might - with great effort, to be sure - achieve successful and happy marriages to members of the opposite sex. [Dissembling Before G_d, editorial, Avi Shafran http://www.tremblingbeforeg-d.com/react/agudath.html ]

Ex-gay organizations

JONAH is a Jewish ex-gay organization that focuses on "prevention, intervention, and healing of the underlying issues causing same-sex attractions." [ http://www.jonahweb.org JONAH'S Mission Statement] Retrieved April 6, 2007] It is an international organization, with the majority of its membership in the United States, Israel, Canada and Europe. [http://www.narth.com/docs/newsjonah.html News from JONAH] ] It uses a variety of psycho-educational methods, including live support group meetings, E-mail list-serv groups, networking, therapy referrals, experiential weekend programs.http://www.pathinfo.org/orgs.htm Retrieved April 6, 2006]

Atzat Nefesh is based in Israel and addresses people with a variety of sexual problems. It operates a hotline and several support groups in Israel, and purports to successfully change the sexual orientation of LGB people. [ http://www.atzat-nefesh.org Atzat Nefash] Retrieved April 6, 2006]

Other viewpoints

* "Compassion, sympathy, empathy, understanding - these are essential elements of Judaism. They are what homosexual Jews who care about Judaism need from us today." Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth (United Kingdom)
* Chaim Rapoport has written "Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View", he is Rabbi of London's Ilford United Synagogue and a member of the cabinet of the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom.
* "Edah", a defunct modern Orthodox advocacy group, has decided to hold public meetings on this topic for the Orthodox Jewish community.
* Sandi Simcha Dubowski's movie "Trembling Before G-d" (2001) documented the struggles of homosexual Orthodox Jews with traditional rejection of homosexuality. The documentary was shown by several modern Orthodox synagogues and stimulated debate on whether greater acceptance of homosexuality is possible within Orthodoxy.
* Steven Greenberg identifies himself as a gay Orthodox rabbi; he has been a source of controversy both within Orthodoxy and among gay and lesbian Jews. For example, in 2005, Greenberg visited South Africa where he received a negative reception from many religious leaders including the Chief Rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein [http://www.sundaytimes.co.za/Articles/TarkArticle.aspx?ID=1384739]
* Both in the United States and in Israel, several groups have sprung up in the last few years that seek to support those who identify as both Orthodox and homosexual and to promote understanding of homosexuality within Orthodox communities and among Orthodox rabbis. These include the Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva Day School Alumni Association [http://members.aol.com/orthogays/GLYDSA.html] , the women's group OrthoDykes [http://www.orthodykes.org/] , the youth group JQYouth [http://www.jqyouth.org/] , and the Israeli group Hod ("Majesty") [http://www.hod.org.il/?lan=en] [http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSL1440981520080214] .

Conservative/Masorti Judaism

As a matter of both Jewish law and institutional policy, Conservative Judaism has wrestled with homosexuality issues since the 1980s.

In Conservative Judaism, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) of the Rabbinical Assembly makes the movement's decisions concerning Jewish law. In 1992, the CJLS action affirmed its traditional prohibition on homosexual conduct, blessing homosexual unions, and ordaining openly homosexual clergy. However, these prohibitions grew increasingly controversial within the Conservative movement.

In 2006, the CJLS shifted its position and paved the way for significant changes regarding the Conservative movement's policies toward homosexuality. On December 6, 2006, The CJLS adopted three distinct responsa reflecting very different approaches to the subject. One responsum substantially liberalized Conservative Judaism's approach including lifting most (but not all) classical prohibitions on homosexual conduct and permitted the blessing of homosexual unions and the ordination of gay clergy. Two others completely retained traditional prohibitions. Under the rules of the Conservative movement, the adoption of multiple opinions permits individual Conservative rabbis, congregations, and rabbinical schools to select which opinion to accept, and hence to choose individually whether to maintain a traditional prohibition on homosexual conduct, or to permit gay unions and clergy.

The liberalizing responsum, adopted as a majority opinion by 13 of 25 votes, was authored by Rabbis Elliot N. Dorff, Daniel Nevins, and Avram Reisner. It lifted most restrictions on homosexual conduct and opened the way to the ordination of openly gay and lesbian rabbis and acceptance of homosexual unions, but stopped short of religiously recognizing gay marriage. The responsum invoked the Talmudic principle of "kavod habriyot", which the authors translated as "human dignity", as authority for this approach. The responsum maintained a prohibition on male-male anal sex, which it described as the sole Biblically prohibited homosexual act. This act remains a "yehareg ve'al ya'avor" ("die rather than transgress" offense) under the decision. [ [http://www.rabbinevins.org/HHH%20Dorff%20Nevins%20Reisner%20Final2.pdf Elliott N. Dorff, Daniel Nevins, and Avram Reisner. "Homosexuality, Human Dignity, and Halakha." Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, Rabbinical Assembly, December 6, 2006] ]

Two traditionalist responsa were adopted. A responsum by Rabbi Joel Roth [cite web|title=Joel Roth, Homosexuality Revisited, Rabbinical Assembly, December 6, 2006|url=http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/docs/Roth_Final.pdf|accessdate=2007-01-23] , adopted as a majority opinion by 13 votes, reaffirmed a general complete prohibition on homosexual conduct. A second responsum by Rabbi Leonard Levy, adopted as a minority opinion by 6 votes, maintained that homosexuality is potentially curable and encouraged people with homosexual inclinations interested in living as religious Jews to seek treatment.

The Committee rejected a fourth paper by Gordon Tucker which would have lifted all restrictions on homosexual sexual practices.

The consequences of the decision have been mixed. On the one hand, four members of the Committee, Rabbis Joel Roth, Leonard Levy, Mayer Rabinowitz, and Joseph Prouser, resigned from the CJLS following adoption of the change.cite web |url=http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=17355&intcategoryid=4 |title=Conflicting Conservative opinions expected to open the way for gays |accessdate=2006-12-07 |author=Ben Harris |authorlink= |coauthors= |date=2006-12-06 |year=2006 |month=December |format= |work= |publisher=Jewish Telegraphic Agency |pages= |language= |archiveurl= |archivedate=] [ [http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=17372&intcategoryid=4 Rabbi Joel Roth, "Op-Ed: Law committee in its gay ruling stepped outside halachic framework", JTS News, December 10, 2006] ] On the other hand, the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles had previously stated that it will immediately begin admitting gay and lesbian students as soon as the law committee passes a policy that sanctions gay ordination [ [http://www.forward.com/articles/conservative-panel-votes-to-permit-gay-rabbis/ "Conservative Panel Votes To Permit Gay Rabbis", "The Jewish Daily Forward", December 7, 2006] ] . On March 26, 2007, the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York followed suit and began accepting openly homosexual candidates for admission for their Rabbinical program [ [http://www.jtsa.edu/x1929.xml “Chancellor-elect Eisen’s Letter to the Community,”] The Jewish Theological Seminary, 26 March 2007.] .

Meanwhile, Masorti synagogues in Europe and Israel, which have historically been somewhat more traditional than the American movement, continue to maintain a complete ban on homosexual conduct, clergy, and unions. As such, most Conservative rabbis outside the USA are exercising their authority as local rabbinic authorities ("mara d'atra") to reject the more liberal responsa. The head of the Israeli Masorti movement's Vaad Halakha (equivalent to the CJLS), Rabbi David Golinkin, wrote the CJLS protesting its reconsideration of the traditional ban on homosexual conduct. [ [http://www.uscj.org/images/prouser.pdf Rabbi Joseph Prouser, "The Conservative Movement and Homosexuality: Settled Law in Unsettling Times"] ] . The Masorti movements in Argentina, Hungary, and the United Kingdom have indicated that they will not admit or ordain homosexual rabbinical students. [ [http://www.forward.com/articles/overseas-seminaries-set-to-reject-gay-ordination/ "Overseas Seminaries Set To Reject Gay Ordination: Canadian Rabbis Mull Forming Separate Wing of Movement" "The Jewish Daily Forward", December 15, 2006] ] The Masorti Movement's Israeli seminar also rejected a change in its view of the status of homosexual conduct, stating that "Jewish law has traditionally prohibited homosexuality." [ [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3382340,00.html "No gay ordinations in conservative seminar", Y-net News, March 28, 2007] ]

Reform Judaism

The Reform Judaism movement, the largest branch of Judaism in North America, has rejected the traditional view of Jewish Law on this issue. As such, they do not prohibit ordination of gays and lesbians as rabbis and cantors. They view Levitical laws as sometimes seen to be referring to prostitution, making it a stand against Jews adopting the idolatrous fertility cults and practices of the neighbouring Canaanite nations rather than a blanket condemnation of same-sex intercourse or homosexuality. Reform authorities consider that, in light of what is seen as current scientific evidence about the nature of homosexuality as a biological sexual orientation, a new interpretation of the law is required.

In the late 1980s the primary seminary of the Reform movement, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, changed its admission requirements to allow gays to join the student body. In 1990 the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) officially endorsed a report of their committee on homosexuality and rabbis. They concluded that "all rabbis, regardless of sexual orientation, be accorded the opportunity to fulfill the sacred vocation that they have chosen" and that "all Jews are religiously equal regardless of their sexual orientation."

In 1996 CCAR passed a resolution of civil marriage. However, this same resolution made a distinction between civil marriages and religious marriages; this resolution thus stated:

:However we may understand homosexuality, whether as an illness, as a genetically based dysfunction or as a sexual preference and lifestyle - we cannot accommodate the relationship of two homosexuals as a "marriage" within the context of Judaism, for none of the elements of qiddushin (sanctification) normally associated with marriage can be invoked for this relationship. [http://mljewish.org/S.C.J/faq/18-03-08.html]

:The Central Conference of American Rabbis support the right of gay and lesbian couples to share fully and equally in the rights of civil marriage, and

:That the CCAR oppose governmental efforts to ban gay and lesbian marriage.

:That this is a matter of civil law, and is separate from the question of rabbinic officiation at such marriages.

In 1998, an ad hoc CCAR committee on Human Sexuality issued its majority report (11 to 1, 1 abstention) which stated that the holiness within a Jewish marriage "may be present in committed same gender relationships between two Jews and that these relationships can serve as the foundation of stable Jewish families, thus adding strength to the Jewish community." The report called for CCAR to support rabbis in officiating at gay marriages. Also in 1998, the Responsa Committee of the CCAR issued a lengthy "teshuvah" (rabbinical opinion) [http://www.ccarnet.org/cgi-bin/respdisp.pl?file=8&year=5756] that offered detailed argumentation in support of both sides of the question whether a rabbi may officiate at a commitment ceremony for a same-sex couple.

In March 2000 CCAR issued a new resolution stating that "We do hereby resolve that, that the relationship of a Jewish, same gender couple is worthy of affirmation through appropriate Jewish ritual, and further resolved, that we recognize the diversity of opinions within our ranks on this issue. We support the decision of those who choose to officiate at rituals of union for same-sex couples, and we support the decision of those who do not."

To promote inclusion of LGBT members and clergy, the Reform movement established the [http://www.huc.edu/ijso/inclusion/ Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation] at Hebrew Union College. The IJSO offers educational programs and makes available copies of Reform responsa and policies on homosexuality.

Reconstructionist Judaism

The Reconstructionist movement sees homosexuality as a normative expression of sexuality and welcomes gays and lesbians into Reconstructionist communities to participate fully in every aspect of community life. Since 1985, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College has admitted gay and lesbian candidates for their rabbinical and cantorial programs. In 1993, a movement Commission issued: "Homosexuality and Judaism: The Reconstructionist Position". [ [http://www.jrf.org/rt/transformation.html "Becoming a "Kehillah Mekabelet":The Struggles of Transformation"] by Roberta Israeloff ] The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA) encourages its members to officiate at homosexual marriages/commitment ceremonies, though the RRA does not require its members to officiate at them. In 2007, the RRA elected as president Toba Spitzer, the first openly gay or lesbian leader of a rabbinic association.



*Alpert, Rebecca, "Like Bread on a Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition" Columbia University Press, New York, 1997.
* Marc Angel, Hillel Goldberg, and Pinchas Stolper, "Homosexuality and the Orthodox Jewish Community" "Jewish Action" 53:2 p.54 (1992).
* Balka, Chistie and Rose Andy "Twice Blessed: on Being Lesbian or Gay and Jewish" Boston: Beacon Press, 1989.
* J. David Bleich. "Homosexuality" in "Judaism and Healing" KTAV, 1981
* Boyarin, Itzkovitz, Pellegrini, eds. "Queer theory and the Jewish question", Columbia Univ Press, 2003
*Michael Broyde, "Jews, Public Policy and Civil Rights: A Religious Jewish Perspective" at [http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/jewspublic.html jlaw.com]
*Cohen, Uri C. "Bibliography of Contemporary Orthodox Jewish Responses to Homosexuality" ATID, Jerusalem. [http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=ED481598 .pdf online]
* Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. "Igrot Moshe" OH 4:115, 1 Adar I, 5736
*Greenberg, Steven, [http://www.wisc.edu/wisconsinpress/books/2576.htm Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition] . University of Wisconsin Press, 2004. ISBN 0-299-19090-0
*_______. (Under pseudonym Yaakov Levado). [http://fogarty.org/tim/gay_issues/orthodox_gay_rabbi.html Gayness and God] , Tikkun magazine, 1993.
* Kahn, Yoel H. "Judaism and Homosexuality: The Traditionalist/Progressive Debate" in "Homosexuality and Religion", Richard Hasbany, ed. Haworth Press, 1989
* Jewish Reconstruction Federation & RRA, "Homosexuality and Judaism: The Reconstructionist Position", The Reconstructionist Press, 1993
* Unterman, Alan. "Judaism and Homosexuality: Some Orthodox Perspectives" in "Jewish Explorations of Sexuality", Jonathan Magonet, ed.

ee also

* List of LGBT Jews
* Barney Frank
* Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality
* Atzat Nefesh
* Keshet Rabbis
*"Say Amen"- A documentary about a gay man coming out to his Orthodox family
* "Keep Not Silent": A documentary about Orthodox Jewish lesbians.
* "Trembling Before G-d": A documentary film about Gay and Lesbian Orthodox Jews
* Touro University Gay-Straight Alliance: The GLBT student group for the largest Jewish sponsored university in the world.

External links

* [http://www.jewishmosaic.org/ Jewish Mosaic: The National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity]
* [http://www.jerusalemletter.co.il/archives/March24,1998/homow.htm Letter to a homosexual baal teshuva, by Rabbi Aharon Feldman]
* [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3349664,00.html Gay life in Israel]
* [http://www.lookstein.org/resources/homosexuality_amsel.pdf Homosexuality in Orthodox Judaism] Rabbi Dr Nachum Amsel (PDF)
* [http://www.rabbinevins.org/RDN%20After%20the%20Vote,%20A%20Journal%20of%20the%20CJLS%20Deliberations.pdf Rabbi Danny Nevins, Living Law: A Journal of the CJLS Vote on Homosexuality and Halakhah, 16 Kislev 5767 / December 7, 2006]
* [http://www.jonahweb.org JONAH non-profit organization for educating about the prevention, intervention, and healing of the underlying issues causing same-sex attractions]
* [http://www.shamash.org/lists/scj-faq/HTML/faq/18-03-08.html Reform's position on homosexuality]
* [http://www.gayprocon.org/bin/procon/procon.cgi?database=5%2dD%2edb&command=viewone&id=5&op=t Does Judaism accept same-sex behavior?]
* [http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/homosexuality-and-judaism.htm Judaism, Nature and Homosexuality]
* [http://shamash.org/lists/scj-faq/HTML/faq/02-19.html FAQ on homosexual Jews]
* [http://www.bat-kol.org Bat-kol - Religious Lesbian Organization]
* [http://www.orthodykes.org/ OrthoDykes] For Orthodox Jewish lesbians
* [http://members.aol.com/gayjews/ Frum Gay Jews - a website about homosexual Orthodox Jews]
* [http://www.feygelah.org/ Feygelah - organization for queer Jews in Montreal]
* [http://www.tremblingbeforeg-d.com Trembling Before G-d - official documentary website]
* [http://www.HineiniTheFilm.org Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School - official documentary website]
* [http://www.shamash.org/listarchives/oxford-judaism/homosexuality Shmuely Boteach's view of homosexuality]

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