AJN Letters: RCNSW & Marriage Equality – May 11 2012

11 May 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

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RCNSW should be careful what it claims

IT is with much surprise that I read the statement by the Rabbinical Council of NSW on the topic of same-sex marriage and their assertion over “mainstream Judaism (AJN 27/04)”.

For the record, I support same-sex marriage wholeheartedly.  And for further clarification, lest it be thought that I am a Progressive Jew, I can abate the Rabbinical Council’s fears that I have never ascribed to this stream of Judaism.

So, as a self-selecting Orthodox, thus “mainstream” Jew by the Rabbinical Council definition, I am baffled by the Rabbinical Council’s desire to manufacture such conflict around this issue.

One might think that our community faces sufficient challenges – anti-Semitism, anti-zionism, the threat of BDS, assimilation to name but a few – [without needing] to voluntarily create conflict and attempt to marginalise significant sections of our community.

The reality is that we are a pluralistic community with a variety of different beliefs and customs, from political beliefs, through to religious customs originating from our respective countries of origin, as well as our views on Jewish expression.

I wonder, as such, where the Rabbinical Council draws the line of what constitutes “mainstream Judaism”.  What can we expect next?  Is Ashkenazi tradition the “mainstream”, or should we look to Sephardi custom?  Is Hebrew prayer the “mainstream” expression of the right way to connect with God, to the exclusion of those who cannot speak or read the language?

And in putting forward the Senate submission, under the assertion they represent “all mainstream synagogues in NSW”, did the Rabbinical Council seek input from the members of these so-called “mainstream” synagogues?

So confident is the Rabbinical Council in its position of representation that surely the council would not object to such an action of surveying the opinions of its members? Perhaps we should put that to the test?

Glebe, NSW

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