AJN Letters: Defending Orthodox rabbinical opposition to same-sex marriage

15 November 2013
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

Letters to the editor should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for length and content. Only letters sent to letters@jewishnews.net.au will be considered for publication. Please supply an address and daytime phone number for verification.

Orthodox rabbis are being victimised

THE fuss over gay marriage has now crept into the Jewish community and is causing pain and misery to all involved.  Among the victims in all this controversy are our Orthodox rabbinical authorities’ rabbis who are being touted as the villains of the drama.

Those that are reading this letter might be aghast that I am of that opinion.  Well, let’s look at it this way – our rabbis did not write the Torah, they are only interpreting it the best way they can or know, and they represent most of the Jewish community.

But they are being pilloried from pillar to post.  They cannot accept a union between a man and another man, it’s simply not allowed as homosexual relations in the Bible are forbidden.  Sexual relations between a woman and another woman are not frowned upon but still a marriage between two females does not meet the normal criteria of a normal nuclear family, meaning a man and a woman.

If homosexual within the Jewish community want their relationships legitimised, they should not demand it from the Orthodox Jewish authorities and the rabbis should not be forced to justify their position time and time again, as they are not the authors, only the custodians of the Torah and they have every right to stand by the moral codes that they have lived by and studied all their lives.

We cannot change thousands of years of Jewish tradition just to suit modernity.

No one is saying we need to discriminate against gays or lesbians, but we also need to take into account that the onus of the debate should not be brought down upon our Orthodox rabbis who have a historical duty as teachers of our tradition to uphold the laws set down by God on Mount Sinai, and we accept nothing less of them.

They are becoming the innocent victims in all this controversy as all they are doing is defending our heritage.

Vaucluse, NSW

AJN Letters: Response to Susan Weiner on same-sex marriage

22 November 2013
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

Letters to the editor should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for length and content. Only letters sent to letters@jewishnews.net.au will be considered for publication. Please supply an address and daytime phone number for verification.

No threat from same sex marriage

IN defending Orthodoxy, Susan Weiner overlooks the fact that in Australia “homosexuals” are not asking Orthodox Judaism to change one iota. We are simply asking the federal government to remove gender-based discrimination from the Marriage Act and, until such time, for states and territories to provide similar legal mechanisms. This is purely a matter of civil law and it will have no legal impact on any aspect of Jewish religious life or observance.

While Ms Weiner is justified in her concern for the welfare of Orthodox rabbis in genuine circumstances of attack, in this case her energies would be better aligned with those denied the very civil rights she has the luxury to access should she desire.

It is important to understand that all proposed legislation for “same-sex marriage” comes with adequate protections for religious ministers and will in no way impinge on hers or anyone else’s civil or religious freedoms.

In our society, people are entitled to disapprove of another person’s choice of life partner, but it is poor form to get in the way of star-struck lovers when it comes to marriage, whether they both be Romeos, Juliets or one of each. Live and let live, love and let love, Ms Weiner.

Ashwood, Vic

No threat from same sex marriage (1/2)No threat from same sex marriage (2/2)


A very Queer 2013 Limmud Fest (Nov 22-24)

The following three sessions, two by Gavi Ansara and one by Jonathan Barnett with Steven Holzman, offer a diverse range of Queer content at the 2013 Limmud Fest in Rutherford Park, Victoria, Nov 22-24.  View the current program here.

LGBTI Jews: living Torah lives in our communities
and Creating meaningful rituals to mark the life cycle events specific to LGBTI Jews within a halachic framework – Gavi Ansara

Gávi Ansara received the 2002 Keshet Leadership of the Year Award for founding an Orthodox gender and sexuality outreach project and more recently received the 2012 American Psychological Association Transgender Research Award. He is completing his PhD in Psychology while working at a senior level in national LGBTI health policy.

Jewish, gay and observant; impossible! – Jonathan Barnett with Steven Holzman

Jonathan is president and founder of Keshet Australia, Inc. Jonathan is on the boards of Temple Beth Israel and Progressive Judaism Victoria. He is active in the Progressive Trust and is a former treasurer and member of Keshet USA, former President of Congregation B’nai Shalom in Massachusetts and former technical director of the Friends of Israel Firefighters.

Jewish Council says it is Okay to be Gay | Star Observer

Jewish Council says it is Okay to be Gay

By on November 6, 2013


The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has made a significant step towards equality by publicly acknowledging for the first time “it’s okay to be gay”.

Following the JCCV’s release of a statement in support of the No To Homophobia campaign, co-convener of LGBTI Jewish organisation Aleph Melbourne Michael Barnett criticised the JCCV’s failure to publicly affirm gay people in society.

The JCCV responded with the comment: “It’s okay to be gay.”

A follow up statement confirmed the organisation’s position.

“The JCCV joined the No To Homophobia campaign because members of the GLBTI community experience harassment and abuse. This is not ok,” it stated.

“That’s why we joined the campaign, started the reference group—to acknowledge that it’s ok to be gay and to help with reducing mental wellbeing issues and harassment.”

Barnett praised the response, saying it is particularly significant given a majority of the JCCV’s constituent organisations are from the conservative, often anti-gay Orthodox Jewish community.

Barnett called on the JCCV to take further steps in support of the LGBTI community, by working with Jewish organisations like Aleph on strategies to address high rates of suicide, mental health issues and self-harm amongst young LGBTI people.

“A good way to do get this message out to the community is to make it a condition of JCCV membership that affiliate organisations implement such strategies in their organisations,” Barnett said.

Note: the background to this story can be found here.