AJN Letters: Maurice Sendak + Chaim Ingram on Marriage Equality – May 18 2012

18 May 2012
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.

Wild thing made my heart sing

THE death of Maurice Sendak takes me back to my childhood, on a journey that many of us could share similarly. I recall turning the pages of his Wild Things book with wonderment and enjoying the scariness of the story and illustrations.

Not knowing until today that Sendak was of Jewish heritage, it is but one of the many things about him of which I was previously unaware. Another is that he had a male partner of 50 years, Eugene Glynn, who pre-deceased him in 2007.

I’m confident that Sendak’s diverse legacy will live on and enrich the lives of future generations, as it did mine.

Ashwood, Vic

Rabbis opposition to same sex marriages

DIKLA Blum (AJN 11/04) need be neither surprised nor baffled by the Rabbinical Council of NSW submissions (in consort with those of the Organisation of Rabbis in Australasia and the Rabbinical Council of Victoria) to the Senate and the House of Representatives opposing a change in the law that would recognise samesex marriage.

As a self-describing “mainstream” Orthodox Jew, Ms. Blum ought to be aware that the concept of homosexual marriage – and indeed homosexual relations – is incompatible with Orthodox, i.e. halachic Judaism.

Moreover since homosexuality is outlawed in the Noachide Code which is the basis of the JudaeoChristian ethic that has governed modern Australia since its inception, rabbinical organisations as guardians of that ethic have seen fit to fight to guard and protect that ethic.

Regarding the RCNSW’S use of the word “mainstream”, our president Rabbi Ulman has already clarified (AJN 27/04) that “by its very definition Reform/progressive theology deviates from the mainstream” and therefore it is an adjective we are fully entitled to use.

As for the representation issue: the rabbinic bodies in Australia purport to represent Torah and Torah values as is our mandate.

If this happens to conflict with the dogmas and mantras of the modern age which have turned some heads 180 degrees on this particular issue within a single generation, we the teachers of Judaism cannot be held to blame.

As it happens, I believe that were a survey of the opinions of the Orthodox community, and for that matter the wider Jewish community, to be conducted anonymously Ms Blum would again be surprised.

Bondi Junction, NSW

The definition of ‘mainstream’ Jewry | AJN

27 Apr 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

The definition of ‘mainstream’ Jewry

THE well-publicised difference of opinion between Progressive and Orthodox Jewish representative bodies on the issue of same-sex marriage has led to an argument over whether Progressive congregations are part of mainstream Jewry.

A Rabbinical Council of NSW submission to the recent parliamentary inquiry into marriage equality stated the council represents “all mainstream synagogues in NSW”, a claim that has raised the ire of the Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ).

In a note submitted to the Senate after submissions had closed, UPJ executive director Steve Denenberg said the Rabbinical Council’s claim to represent “all Orthodox and mainstream synagogues in NSW” was “far from the case”.

“They do not represent the many thousands of people in the state who are affiliated to the Progressive, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Renewal denominations of Judaism,” he said.

“These synagogues are definitely part of the ‘mainstream’ of our community, even if their views may differ from the Rabbinical Council.

“While there are a range of views on this topic in the community, there is no question that the views of the people who are members of the synagogues that are not Orthodox are undoubtedly better reflected in the comments included in the submission made by our organisation.”

In response, Rabbinical Council president Yoram Ulman said: “By its very definition, Reform/progressive theology deviates from the mainstream. It is quite surprising that they are even suggesting otherwise.”

Denenberg was the only Jewish representative when a federal parliamentary committee held a consultation on the same-sex marriage issue at NSW Parliament House on April 12.

“I was able to say that based on our beliefs that each person is created in the image of God, … each person is equal,” he said.

“Therefore, their rights for full participation in society should be equal, including the right to marry. Equality would dictate that same gender couples should be able to marry.”

The Rabbinical Council has lined up alongside the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia in opposing any changes to the Marriage Act.

The Senate inquiry will present its findings in June.

Submission to Senate on Marriage Equality by Rabbinical Council of NSW

[Senate link] [PDF]


All correspondence to
The Hon. Secretary

Rabbi Yoram Ulman

Rabbi Eli Feldman

Honorary Secretary:
Rabbi Chaim Ingram

Honorary Treasurer:
Rabbi Paul Lewin

31 March 2012


To the Honorable Members of the Senate Legal and constitutional Affairs Committee:-

The Rabbinical Council of NSW represents all Orthodox and mainstream synagogues in NSW

The Rabbinical Council of NSW Inc (RCNSW) states and affirms as follows:-

1)      The definition of marriage as stipulated in the Marriage Legislation Amendment Act 2004, namely that “marriage means the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others” is consistent with the traditional definition of marriage expressed in sacred Jewish texts and accepted through the ages by the other major world faiths.

2)      At Mount Sinai, the giving of the Torah included reiteration of a set of key universal laws and values binding and adopted by civilised societies throughout the world since time immemorial.

3)      Central to the key universal values expressed in the Torah are norms relating to human sexuality which endorse the stable sexual union of a man and a woman in a socially recognised relationship of mutual commitment whilst rejecting other sexual unions notably adultery, incest, bestiality and homosexuality.

4)      It has been proven and demonstrated globally throughout history that the institution of marriage is central to the formation of a healthy society and to the concept of family.  By virtue of their physical make-up, human beings are able to achieve self –actualisation through participation in the higher union of man and woman within marriage resulting in the production of offspring who are raised in a stable and moral home and who possess an innate and close connection with the mother and father who conceived and gave birth to the child.

5)      The Torah mandates that all human beings, created as they are in the image of G-D, are to be cherished and loved by their fellows.  The lifestyle choices made by individuals do not affect the precept that they be treated with respect and love.  Nevertheless it is our firm conviction that all humankind remains bound by the aforementioned universal moral code handed down by G-D at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago.

6)      The RCNSW views with profound concern efforts to redefine marriage and thus legally sanction same-sex marriage.  It urges most earnestly that the integrity of marriage in its traditional and time-hallowed form will be preserved.

For further information please call RCNSW Honorary Secretary Rabbi Chaim Ingram.