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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Who We Are (2/12)
Section - Question 2.19: What about homosexual Jews?

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                                  Answer:
   
   Traditional Judaism considers particular common homosexual sexual
   activities as an abomination (see Question [5]12.28). The more liberal
   movements (such as Reform) make no statements about the sexual acts,
   but do not feel that homosexuals should be discriminated against due
   to sexual orientation. Great debates have raged on S.C.J regarding the
   extent to which Jewish practices and congregational life should
   include homosexuals.
   
   Nevertheless, as with society as a whole, there are members of the
   Jewish community who are homosexual. A [6]support page
   (<http://www.usc.edu/Library/oneigla/tb/>) has been established on the
   web for those individuals.
   
   For additional information, readers might want to consult the
   following links:
     * Orthodox Jewish responses to homosexuality:
       [7]http://shamash.org/listarchives/mail-jewish/Special_Topics/Homo
       sexuals
     * Essay by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Oxford, UK:
       [8]http://www.shamash.org/listarchives/oxford-judaism/homosexualit
       y
     * [9]http://www.gayjews.org/. This is a web page and resource for
       Orthodox/Traditional Jews who are homosexual. It also maintains
       some resources from non-Orthodox rabbis, both official positions
       as well as personal position papers.
       
   Conservative Judaism has issued four separate teshuvot (responsa) on
   homosexuality, all of which were used as backing sources for a unified
   movement consensus position. The CJLS consensus position is that given
   the current state of scientific, psychological and biological
   information on the origin and nature of homosexuality, homosexual
   relationships nevertheless can not be judged to be in accord with
   halakha (Jewish law). Some of the responsa note that there are certain
   leninencies in the law and potential legal novellae which may be
   utilized, depending on new information which may be discovered.
   
   In particular:
     * The Conservative movement does not ordain homosexuals as rabbis or
       cantors, because these positions are considered to be the most
       important halakhic role models.
     * The Conservative movement does not approve of homosexual marriages
       or committment ceremonies.
     * The Conservative movement does allow homosexual men and women to
       otherwise participate fully in synagogue life and the Jewish
       community. It sees homosexuality as the non-fulfillment of one
       mitzvah - but there are 612 other mitzvot that are open to be
       fulfilled. Conservative Judaism affirms that homosexual men and
       women may lead prayers, have an aliyah to read from the Torah, and
       may even serve as youth group counselors or Hebrew school
       teachers.
       
   The specifics of the Conservative responsa may be seen at
   [10]http://communities.msn.com/JudaismFAQs&naventryid=118.
   
   Reconstructionist Judaism has rejected the traditional view in all
   areas relating to this issue: they view all restrictions on
   homosexualiy as null and void. As such, they ordain homosexual Jews as
   rabbis and cantors. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
   permits Jewish homosexual marriages and homosexual intermarriages.
   
   The American Reform movement has rejected the traditional view in all
   areas relating to this issue: they view all restrictions on
   homosexualiy as null and void. As such, they do not prohibit
   ordination of homosexual Jews as Rabbis and Cantors (although they
   don't really make a point of asking anything about sexual preference
   beforehand). With respect to same-sex union ceremonies, in 2000, the
   Central Conference of American Rabbis issued a resolution that says:
   
     WHEREAS justice and human dignity are cherished Jewish values, and
     
     WHEREAS, in March of 1999 the Women's Rabbinic Network passed a
     resolution urging the Central Conference of American Rabbis to
     bring the issue of honoring ceremonies between two Jews of the same
     gender to the floor of the convention plenum, and
     
     WHEREAS, the institutions of Reform Judaism have a long history of
     support for civil and equal rights for gays and lesbians, and
     
     WHEREAS, North American organizations of the Reform Movement have
     passed resolutions in support of civil marriage for gays and
     lesbians, therefore
     
     WE DO HEREBY RESOLVE, 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-gender
     couples, and we support the decision of those who do not, and
     
     FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call upon the CCAR to support all
     colleagues in their choices in this matter, and
     
     FURTHER RESOLVED, that we also call upon the CCAR to develop both
     educational and liturgical resources in this area.
     
   Details on the history of this position may be found in [11]Section
   18.3.8 of the Reform FAQ. You can search for the CCAR resolutions at
   [12]http://www.ccarnet.org/reso/
   
   Progressive [Reform] Judaism in Israel does not permit homosexual
   marriages.

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