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November 29, 2015 / 17 Kislev, 5776
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Obama Endorses Same-Sex Marriage; Rabbis Debate Homosexuality

President Barack Obama on Wednesday reversed his position on same-sex marriage.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday reversed his position on same-sex marriage.
Photo Credit: White House image

“Attempts to ritualize or celebrate same-sex unions are antithetical to Jewish law. Any clergyman who performs or celebrates a same-sex union cannot claim the mantle of Orthodox Judaism.

“While homosexual behavior is prohibited, individuals with homosexual inclinations should be treated with the care and concern appropriate to all human beings. As Rabbis we recognize the acute and painful challenges faced by homosexual Jews in their quest to remain connected and faithful to God and tradition. We urge those Orthodox Jews with homosexual tendencies to seek counsel from their Rabbis. Equally, we urge all Rabbis to show compassion to all those who approach them.”

Interestingly, the RCA is not enthusiastic about “curing” homosexual tendencies, an effort that has come to be known in Evangelical circles as “pray away the gay.” The RCA statement reads:

“On the subject of reparative therapy, it is our view that, as Rabbis, we can neither endorse nor reject any therapy or method that is intended to assist those who are struggling with same-sex attraction. We insist, however, that therapy of any type be performed only by licensed, trained practitioners. In addition, we maintain that no individual should be coerced to participate in a therapeutic course with which he or she is acutely uncomfortable.”

The three non-Orthodox Jewish denominations, Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist, have largely accepted same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay rabbis.

In 1993, the Reconstructionist Commission on Homosexuality published a report titled, “Homosexuality and Judaism,” accepting same-sex couples. “As we celebrate the love between heterosexual couples, so too we celebrate the love between gay or lesbian Jews,” the report said.

In 1996, the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis issued its resolution supporting “the right of gay and lesbian couples to share fully and equally in the rights of civil marriage.”

In 2011, the Conservative movement’s Committee of Jewish Law and Standards has published its “Resolution in Support of Equal Rights and Inclusion for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, And Transgender (GLBT) Persons,” resolving to “support the extension of civil rights and privileges granted to married persons to same sex couples.”

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

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One Response to “Obama Endorses Same-Sex Marriage; Rabbis Debate Homosexuality”

  1. Thanks to Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield for the most intelligent statement I have ever heard any religious leader make regarding any of the so-called 'social issues' that are discussed in the US today: "…we need to distinguish between that which we teach to those who choose our respective faiths, and that for which we advocate as a shared norm. The latter must almost always be wider than the former."

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