In what has been described as a “landmark moment,” the conservative branch of Judaism has established rituals for same-sex wedding ceremonies.
The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly unanimously decided at the end of May that gay marriages have “the same sense of holiness and joy as that expressed in heterosexual marriages.” The decision says:
For observant gay and lesbian Jews who would otherwise be condemned to a life of celibacy or secrecy their human dignity requires suspension of the rabbinic level prohibitions.
The decision follows a 2006 vote by the committee “favor[ing] the establishment of committed and loving relationships for gay and lesbian Jews.” It does not require rabbis to perform same-sex marriages though.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Berkeley’s Congregation Netivot Shalom told JWeekly.com:
Modern halachah [Jewish religious law] has always seen the Torah as its center, but not any one meaning as the final interpretation. There is a growing understanding [among] Conservative Jews that our responsibility is to steward our community with clarity. Conservative Judaism believes halachah changes when it must.
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, leader of the LGBT Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York, said:
We can’t be held hostage to the radical right wing of the Jewish world. The Conservative movement is rejecting religion based on bigotry.
The Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis endorsed Jewish gay marriage in the late 1990s.
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, told the Washington Post that there have been no negative reactions to the decision.
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