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Winnipeg Rabbis Split on Bill Favoring Gay-Straight Clubs

By: JTA

Two leading Orthodox rabbis in Winnipeg are split over part of a bill, proposed last December, which would require any school that receives provincial funding to allow students to create a gay-straight alliance club.

Fearing that Christian schools will be forced to accept such clubs, many Christian leaders in Manitoba have opposed the bill. But in the case of the province’s Jewish community, the two leading Orthodox rabbis have landed on opposite sides of the debate.

“The Torah rejects homosexuality,” Rabbi Avraham Altein, the longtime head of Chabad Lubavitch in Winnipeg, told the Canadian Jewish News. “Religious schools should not be forced to accept a gay rights group.”

But while Altein has written a letter to Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger protesting the bill and taken to the airwaves to make his views heard, Winnipeg’s other prominent Orthodox rabbi has taken a much different approach.

Rabbi Ari Ellis, who leads Winnipeg’s largest Orthodox congregation, told the news agency that he originally planned not to get involved in the debate on the bill until he heard Altein claiming that the bill stood in opposition to Orthodox Judaism.

“As an Orthodox rabbi and a Jewish educator, it is my belief that a gay-straight alliance could be a welcome institution in our schools and communities,” Ellis told the newspaper.

Gray Academy of Jewish Education, the only K-12 Jewish private school in Winnipeg, has had a gay-straight alliance for several years, according to head of school Rory Paul.

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5 Responses to “Winnipeg Rabbis Split on Bill Favoring Gay-Straight Clubs”

  1. While an Orthodox Rabbi in Canada may have a valid Orthodox Jewish view from a.
    Halchic viewpoint, I think it is still a bad idea for them to adopt this in Manitoba.

    Certainly, these groups should be allowed in the public schools, and in any religious.
    school that accepts them. But for the Chabad School, and the Catholic and other.
    schools it becomes an imposition of religious matters.

    It is also true that Tax exemption is a major issue here also, but while well meaning, this type of legislation will probably have very negative unintended consequences.

    Not only religious institutions will be harmed, but also the fight for basic rights outside Canada, such as employment non discrimination is likely to suffer as this type of law will be held up as a reason not to extend any equal rights.

  2. Canada is not a society where religious freedom and liberty are sacred. America's placing G-d as the foundation of life is foreign to the Canadian/parliamentary system. Pirke Avot clearly tells us that undue intimacy with government is to be avoided, and for good reason. Oppressive regimes always attack religious freedom; Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, and Catholic and Czarist Europe, collectively, the worst anti-semitic regimes known to man, attacked religious liberty of Jews and those not in subservience to the state regime. The assault on religious Jews in "progressive" socialist regimes continues: crackdowns on circumcision and shechita in Scandinavia, Holland, and Germany, and no free speech/ criminalizing opposition to homosexuality and a lack of free speech in the UK, Canada, and other places is a sad reality.

  3. Canada is not a society where religious freedom and liberty are sacred. America's placing G-d as the foundation of life is foreign to the Canadian/parliamentary system. Pirke Avot clearly tells us that undue intimacy with government is to be avoided, and for good reason. Oppressive regimes always attack religious freedom; Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, and Catholic and Czarist Europe, collectively, the worst anti-semitic regimes known to man, attacked religious liberty of Jews and those not in subservience to the state regime. The assault on religious Jews in "progressive" socialist regimes continues: crackdowns on circumcision and shechita in Scandinavia, Holland, and Germany, and no free speech/ criminalizing opposition to homosexuality and a lack of free speech in the UK, Canada, and other places is a sad reality.

  4. Charlie Hall says:

    Wrong. Canada's Constitution protects religious freedom. And several provinces even provide government funding to religious schools.

  5. The constitution does, but efforts such as this show that there is inevitable conflict between what certain parochial groups deem appropriate for themselves and the social realities we'd like to see come to fruition. I think GSA's are useful; Haredim like the Habad rabbi here don't. Gov't financing of religious schools is only useful, IMHO, when religious schools fulfill that which is positive about public schools: the ability for the school to serve as a filter for securing public health concerns, and a means for advancing progressive values, which Haredi schools don't agree with (I saw an article which discussed how Satmar schools are fighting efforts to ensure children eat green vegetables as part of federal school-lunch funding, indicating that even public health concerns are amiss in Haredi schools. GSA's, to my mind, are important for public health, since they alleviate bullying, help reduce anxiety and depression, and create a healthier environment for all).

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