Celeste Lavin for 365Gay News(August 3, 2010)
A group of Orthodox rabbis issued a statement calling for the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the Orthodox community.
The statement said, “Embarrassing, harassing or demeaning someone with a homosexual orientation or same-sex attraction is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.”
“Jews with homosexual orientations or same sex-attractions should be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community.”
About 150 rabbis, mostly from the Modern Orthodox movement signed the statement that listed 12 principles for why gays and lesbians should be accepted in the Orthodox community.
Still, homosexual acts and gay marriage were found to be against the Orthodox interpretation of Judaism.
Even without marriage though, the rabbis wrote that “communities should display sensitivity, acceptance and full embrace of the adopted or biological children of homosexually active Jews in the synagogue and school setting, and we encourage parents and family of homosexually partnered Jews to make every effort to maintain harmonious family relations and connections.”
The statement of principles emphasized that “change therapies” encouraged by some communities could be very harmful. “We affirm the religious right of those with a homosexual orientation to reject therapeutic approaches they reasonably see as useless or dangerous,” read the statement.
It also said that Jews with same-sex attractions should not be pressured to marry different-sex partners “as this can lead to great tragedy, unrequited love, shame, dishonesty and ruined lives. They should be directed to contribute to Jewish and general society in other meaningful ways.”
Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot wrote the original draft of the statement after six months of preparation with other Orthodox rabbis and educators.
American Judaism’s Reform and Reconstructionist movements accept gay Jews completely. The Conservative movement’s view is slightly more ambiguous, leaving the decision to ordain gay rabbis and conduct same-sex union ceremonies up to individual synagogues. The Orthodox movement has generally been opposed to homosexuality.