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Same Gender Marriage
Jewish Organizational Responses
Early Conservative Teshuvah on Gay & Lesbian Commitment Ceremonies
Resource type Article
Description/Summary Written in 2004, this teshuvah by Rabbi Samuel Barth was composed two years before the multiple teshuvot on homosexuality that were voted on as law by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standard (CJLS) of the Conservative movement. As the mara d’atra, or halachic authority on Jewish Law for his congregation, Rabbi Samuel Barth needed to resolve the question of gay and lesbian commitment ceremonies for himself and his congregation. He examines the question from several perspectives – including current scientific and medical understandings of homosexuality as biological and not a choice, changing halakhic norms, and the rabbinic authority to reinterpret the Torah based on modern life. Rabbi Barth references several major rabbinic scholars on the issue, including Rabbi Dr. Elliot Dorff and Rabbi Gordon Tucker, Rabbi Harold Shulweis, and Rabbi Dr. Joel Roth, and concludes that he supports gay and lesbian commitment ceremonies and will bless those between two Jewish partners in his Congregation.
Excerpt “Given the historical flexibility of Talmudic Law, and the supporting opinions of great Talmudic scholars of our time – including among others Rabbi Dr. Elliot Dorff, Rabbi Leonard Gordon and Rabbi Dr. Harold Schulweis – it is my determination as the mara d’atra (halakhic authority of the synagogue) that within Congregation Agudas Achim ceremonies of commitment for gay and lesbian couples are permissible and even blessed (where both partners are Jewish). These ceremonies have the potential to increase loyal households among the Jewish community, to raise the sanctity of relationships within our Congregation and bring more Jews close to Torah.”
Link to resource media Gay-Lesbian Ceremonies of Commitment.pdf
Author Rabbi Samuel Barth
Publication date August 30, 2004
Disseminating organization/ institution Congregation Agudas Achim, Austin Texas
Movement affiliation Conservative
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