Grappling With Tradition

By Julie Schonfeld

Originally posted as a letter to the editor in The Forward

With regard to a December 2 Forward article, “Conservatives Grapple With Gay Wedding Rite,” we wish to clarify our position on the draft of a new ceremony for gay and lesbian couples in discussion before the Conservative movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. The drafting of these model ceremonies of commitment and separation, in addition to including several careful readings by committee members and other rabbis, also involved gay rabbinical students. As treasured members of our community they are most directly affected by the proposed new liturgy and we sought their guidance.

The committee took care to bring the full weight of tradition to bear in ensuring that these rituals convey their sacred purpose: the consecration of a “bayit neeman b’yisrael,” a true and faithful Jewish home, for same-sex couples seeking to build a Jewish home and family.

At the same time, they took care to distinguish the marriage ceremony from kiddushin, which Jewish tradition explicitly stipulates is intended for a union between a man and a woman... (continue reading on The Forward)

Comments

When I read that different Conservative Rabbis have either created their own - gay and lesbian weddings or have officiated over the gay and lesbian weddings of others it makes me wonder if the CJLS is a law making body or just an advisory board.   The well known teshuva allowing gays and lesbians to be rabbis passed in 2006 clearly says in it that it is not a teshuva that allows for marriages of gays and lesbians.  Yet I read that Rabbi Hammer had her own wedding to another woman back in 2002 in this article.  And I read a while back in the Conservative Judaism quarterly about a Conservative rabbi - a Rabbi Gardenschwartz I think-  who proceeds with officating the weddings of gays and lesbains because he likes the proposed teshuvah of Rabbi Gordon Tucker which was rejected by the CJLS in 2006.  And I have read the websites of some Conservative kehilot including of some who have become very prominent such as the magen tzedek leader Rabbi Morris Allen who now says he also performs gay and lesbian weddings.  And I have to wonder are all these people really rabbis because  if they were then why would they willingly and publicly go against the ruilings of the CJLS?  If Conservative rabbis can't adhere to the rulings of the CJLS including the rulings the CJLS did not ratify - at least not yet -  then why should Conservative lay people give a hoot about the ruilings of the CJLS either? When Conservative Judaism's detractors say it is not a halachic movement these rabbis give those detractors great evidence their accusations are correct.  Sincerely, Jonathan Loring  Pittsburgh PA

When I read that different Conservative Rabbis have either created their own - gay and lesbian weddings or have officiated over the gay and lesbian weddings of others it makes me wonder if the CJLS is a law making body or just an advisory board.   The well known teshuva allowing gays and lesbians to be rabbis passed in 2006 clearly says in it that it is not a teshuva that allows for marriages of gays and lesbians.  Yet I read that Rabbi Hammer had her own wedding to another woman back in 2002 in this article.  And I read a while back in the Conservative Judaism quarterly about a Conservative rabbi - a Rabbi Gardenschwartz I think-  who proceeds with officating the weddings of gays and lesbains because he likes the proposed teshuvah of Rabbi Gordon Tucker which was rejected by the CJLS in 2006.  And I have read the websites of some Conservative kehilot including of some who have become very prominent such as the magen tzedek leader Rabbi Morris Allen who now says he also performs gay and lesbian weddings.  And I have to wonder are all these people really rabbis because  if they were then why would they willingly and publicly go against the ruilings of the CJLS?  If Conservative rabbis can't adhere to the rulings of the CJLS including the rulings the CJLS did not ratify - at least not yet -  then why should Conservative lay people give a hoot about the ruilings of the CJLS either? When Conservative Judaism's detractors say it is not a halachic movement these rabbis give those detractors great evidence their accusations are correct.  

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