Gay Jews may get marriage rights

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The UK Masorti movement has said it would never consider Jewish same sex unions, in reaction to its US equivalent considering allowing gay marriage and gay rabbis this week.

American gay Jews may soon be allowed to get married and become rabbis after the Conservative Judaism movement meets this week.

Previously the group, which is in the centre of Jewish thought between liberal and orthodox movements, has banned same sex marriage and gay rabbis. However, the latest move comes in reaction to rabbinical students pushing for “Ordination regardless of Orientation” and many rabbis coming out or performing same sex ceremonies despite the ban.

Conservative Judaism believes in Jewish law and tradition (halakhah,) while adapting to modern conditions. Rabbi Joel H. Meyers told the New York Times, “This is a very difficult moment for the movement, there are those who are saying, don’t change the law because the paradigm model of the heterosexual family has to be maintained.”

“On the other hand is a group within the movement who say, look, we will lose thoughtful younger people if we don’t make this change, and the movement will look stodgy and behind the times.”

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards will debate the issue this week. They believe there were more than enough votes to pass a legal opinion that would support gay rabbis and same sex unions.

They may even adopt opposing views, a move that some say would simply demonstrate the diversity in Conservative Judaism. The committee’s decisions are not binding on rabbis but do set direction for the movement.

“I don’t think it is either feasible or desirable for a movement like ours to have one approach to Jewish law,” said Rabbi Gordon Tucker, who supports lifting the prohibition on homosexuality.

Rabbi Meyers, vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, said he feared that any decision on homosexuality could cause Conservative Jews to migrate to either Reform, which accepts homosexuality, or Orthodoxy, which condemns it.

The UK Assembly of Masorti Synagogues told that it is not up for discussion at the moment.

Michael Gluckman, executive director said: “You can never say never but at the moment we are not considering this. It is way outside halakhah.”