Sunday, December 2, 2007

Gay Jews

Sunday, December 2, 2007
Conservative Jews and gays

Hello Rabbi

Having just watched your video on procreation, I have
a question I hope you can answer.

You have already indicated to me that Gay people are
able to convert to Judaism, and that the Conservative
Jewish movement recognise Gay unions and allow Gay
Rabbis. How do Gay Jewish Men reconcile this lifestyle
within their faith? If you find the time at some point
in the future, maybe you would make a video on this
subject, or on the Jewish attitude to homosexuality in

Thank you for your efforts. The videos are very
instructive, and strike a good balance between
explaining sometimes complex issues clearly, and not
over simplifying them.

My answer
Go to the Rabbinical Assembly website. They have all the recent law papers on it. Here is the summary of 1. Thanks


by Rabbis Elliot N. Dorff, Daniel S. Nevins and Avram I. Reisner

Tishri 5767 / September 2006

Jewish law has traditionally sanctified heterosexual intimacy under the rubric of marriage, while prohibiting all homosexual

intimacy. Modern psychology has established that homosexual orientation is integral to the identity of some men and

women, and that it is not possible for them simply to “convert” to become heterosexuals. The tension between our traditional

sexual norms and our contemporary understanding of sexual orientation has created a complicated dilemma for both Jewish

homosexuals and for the entire Torah observant community. We have approached this difficult subject with humility and

reverence, and have come to the following understanding:

a. A review of the biblical and rabbinic sources reveals that only one form of homosexual intimacy, anal intercourse between

men, is explicitly forbidden by the Torah. Other forms of homosexual intimacy between men and between women have

been prohibited by the authority of the Rabbis. Although some prominent rabbis such as Maimonides have maintained

that the general prohibitions of homosexual intimacy have biblical authority, the arguments of Nachmanides are more

convincing. The established halakhah has classified mishkav zakhur as assur d’oraita, while other sexual acts between men

and between women are issurim d’rabbanan.

b. As our understanding of sexual orientation has evolved, so too has our sensitivity to the horrific effects of the halakhah’s

comprehensive ban on the sexual behavior of Torah observant homosexuals. They have no legal options for sexual

and social intimacy within the traditional parameters. This situation is degrading and even dangerous for them. Yet

the halakhah also teaches its practitioners to be zealous in protecting human dignity. The principle gadol kvod habriot

shedocheh lo ta’aseh shebaTorah (Brakhot 19b etc.) has been applied in the Talmud and Codes of Halakhah in order to

supersede rabbinic prohibitions for the sake of human dignity. We believe that the halakhic status quo violates the dignity

of gay and lesbian Jews, and we propose the supersession of the rabbinic prohibitions on homosexual sex for the sake of

human dignity.

c. Our practical rulings: Gay and lesbian Jews may form intimate relationships, with the Torah’s explicit prohibition of anal

sex between men remaining in force. Bisexuals with primary sexual desires for someone of the opposite sex should seek

to create a faithful heterosexual marriage with another Jew. Commitment ceremonies that avoid the legal mechanisms

of kiddushin may be designed for gay and lesbian couples. There is to be no discrimination against gay and lesbian Jews.

Should they exhibit the other criteria needed for ordination as clergy, they shall be qualified to serve as rabbis, cantors and

Jewish educators.

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