In response to my podcast on the “Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community”, a friend sent in a PDF of “An Open Letter to the Greater Washington Community” included below which seems to focus on opposing gay marriage.
While it may be worthwhile comparing the tone to the aforementioned Statement of Principles, it is important to address the context. First, the open letter could be responding to the issue of civil marriage which the Statement did not address, or to the religious ceremonies which the Statement also rejected.1
Also worth noting is that as of this blog posting, only R. Joel Tessler signed on to both documents – though this could also be attributed to Baltimore/DC rabbinic politics as well.
July 15, 2010
An Open Letter to the Greater Washington Community:
We the Rabbis of the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington representing the large majority of the orthodox Jewish community of Washington wish to reiterate the position of Jewish law and tradition re: The question of gay marriage.
The eternal and unalterable word of G-d as revealed through the Torah (in Leviticus chapter 20, verse 13) states that homosexual relationships are forbidden and sanctions only the union of a man and a woman through matrimony. This is consistent with the Jewish tradition that marriage of a man and a woman is the very basis of human Society,n keeping with the Divine plan as set forth in the Biblical description of the creation of mankind. From Genesis chapter 2, verse 22 when we are told that G-d created Eve to serve as a mate for Adam, Jewish teachers have understood that we cannot progress in this world without preserving and protecting the immutable format of traditional marriage. History has shown that many societal ills result from the weakening of this fundamental institution. Any representation of the position of traditional Judaism as differing from the above is inaccurate and unauthorized.
We call on you to look past the popular sentiments and recognize that moving in this direction away from traditional family values is a grave mistake.
Please,we ask you; do not support gay marriage.
Also please be aware that the Jewish Community Relations Council does not speak for the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington.
Rabbi Hillel Klavan,
Rabbi Barry Freundel
Rabbi, Kesher Israel
Rabbi Dovid Rosenbaum
Assistant Rabbi, V.I.S.E.
Rabbi Kalman Winter,
Rabbi, Southeast Hebrew
Rabbi Jack Bieler
Rabbi, Kemp Mill Synagogue
Rabbi Eliezer Kreiser
Rabbi, Ezras Israel Cong.
Rabbi Shaya Milikowsky
Rabbi, Ohev Shalom, Olney
Rabbi Vosef Singer
Rabbi, Y.I. Potomac
Rabbi Avraham Sussman
Rabbi, Am Hatorah
Rabbi Joel Tessler
Rabbi, Beth Shalom Cong.
1. To quote from point 11, “Halakhic Judaism cannot give its blessing and imprimatur to Jewish religious same-sex commitment ceremonies and weddings, and halakhic values proscribe individuals and communities from encouraging practices that grant religious legitimacy to gay marriage and couplehood.”
None of the signatories are from Baltimore; they are all DC or Montgomery County, MD (Silver Spring/Potomac/Olney).
I agree with Rabbi A. Yuter’s position differentiating between the individual (gavra) and the deed.
We clearly have no halachic union ceremony between two individuals of the same gender.
I do have an issue in the secular realm with calling the union of two individuals of the same gender as marriage. The word marriage has always been used to describe a man/woman zug. Let’s agree to grant 100% of the requisite rights to same sex couples, but call it something new, dignified and unique.
I am promoting an awareness campaign for the rights of gay people. Gays should be respected, not neglected, not abused, and free of will to do things that most normal people do. We should support this campaign and let this spread to other people.
Whether not any religious community likes it, “marriage” is the current term used to describe both the religious and the secular concepts of the union of a couple. So while the religious community can feel free to pass judgement on the concept of religious marriage, it has no right to judge a secular marriage. So if you have no opposition to the term being used to describe a heterosexual secular marriage, there should be no compunction about using the term to describe a homosexual secular marriage. ‘Separate but equal’ is never equal, Mr. Frank. As a people who have been persecuted for centuries, we should be the last community to ask our government to deny a persecuted people basic government rights and privileges. A religious marriage is not the same thing as a secular marriage, not in any country that purportedly separates church (semantics again!) from state. So let’s leave semantics aside.