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Jewish views of homosexuality

Jewish views of homosexuality

Orthodox Judaism

From its inceptions until the 20th century, Judaism has viewed sex between two men as sinful (the term to'eva, often translated as "abomination" is not necessarily a moral judgment, and is used in many other contexts, including the eating of shellfish). Orthodox Judaism has traditionally condemned homosexuality, though sex between two women was less fervently opposed than sex between two men. On the other hand, even those who attack homosexuality will condemn the specific act involved, most notably anal sex, but not homosexuality as an inclination or orientation. Most recently, attempts have been made to reinvestigate the prohibition while accepting and even embracing members of the gay community who identify religiously as Orthodox. While this is not universally accepted, it is a process in the making as more and more Orthodox Jewish homosexuals are demanding acceptance.

Conservative Judaism (also known as Masorti Judaism)

In the Conservative Jewish community, the scholars on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) makes decisions on Jewish law. In 1992 the CJLS accepted four teshuvot (responsa) on homosexuality; these were used as backing sources for a unified consensus position. The consensus position is that given the current scientific, psychological and biological information on the origin and nature of homosexuality, homosexual relationships can not be judged to be in accord with Halakha (Jewish law). Some of the responsa note that future information on this subject may be sufficient to utilize leniencies and potential legal novellae; therefore the law committee holds the right to re-evaluate this area at a future date. The "CJLS Consensus Statement of Policy Regarding Homosexual Jews in the Conservative Movement" approved March 25, 1992, reads as follows:

(A) We will not perform commitment ceremonies for gays and lesbians.

(B) We will not knowingly admit avowed homosexuals to our rabbinical and cantorial schools, or the Rabbinical Assembly or Cantors' Assembly. At the same time, we will not instigate witch hunts against those who are already members or students.

(C) Whether homosexuals may function as teachers or youth leaders in our congregations and schools will be left to the Rabbi authorized to make halakhic decisions for a given institution in the Conservative movement. Presumably, in this as in all other matters, the rabbi will make such decisions taking into account the sensitivities of the people of his or her congregation or school. The rabbi's own reading of Jewish law on these issues, informed by the responsa written for the CJLS to date, will also be a determinative factor in these decisions.

(D) Similarly, the rabbi of each Conservative institution, in consultation with its lay leaders, will be intrusted to formulate policies regarding the eligibility of homosexuals for honors within worship and lay leadership positions.

(E) In any case, in accordance with the Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue Resolutions we are hereby affirming gays and lesbians are welcome in our congregations, youth groups, camps and schools.

The Rabbinical Assembly has issued a position paper stating that the Divine image is reflected by every human being, of any sexual orientation, and admits that there is good reason to be concerned about the fact that gay and lesbian Jews have experienced not only the constant threats of physical violence and homophobic rejection, but also the pains of anti-Semitism. Given the fact that homosexuals are members of all congregations, and that the AIDS crisis has exacerbated the anxiety and suffering of homosexual Jews, that Conservative Jews are obligated to keep the following points in mind

Jewish law prohibits homosexual sex; nonetheless, civil and religious law should not be mixed in America, therefore the Rabbinical Assembly supports full civil equality for gays and lesbians in our national life, it renounces violence against gays and lesbians, and affirms that gay men and lesbians are welcome as members in Conservative Jewish congregations.

Reconstructionist Judaism

The Reconstructionist 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 ordain homosexual Jews as rabbis and cantors. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA) permits Jewish homosexual marriages and homosexual intermarriages.

Reform Judaism

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).

External links:


Views of other religions on the topic of homosexuality Religion and homosexuality



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