Conservative Jewish Masorti movement approves equal marriage

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The British Jewish Masorti movement has joined Liberal and Reform groups in allowing Rabbis to perform same-sex marriages.

The conservative Masorti movement is considered more progressive than Orthodox Judaism – allowing men and women to sit together, and believing the Torah to be divinely inspired instead of the literal word of God.

Each of the Masorti’s 12 communities in the UK will be able to choose whether to perform same-sex marriages or not themselves – with no obligation for them to do so.

Senior Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, who heads the New North London Synagogue, said: “This is an important step forward. As a movement, we will continue to strive to be inclusive and to honour the dignity of all people, within the framework of Jewish law.”

The Masorti board of trustees said: “After much learning and discussion, the Masorti rabbis have ruled that communities may carry out ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples based on a ‘shutafut’, or partnership, ceremony.

“We recognise that our movement encompasses diverse views on this important subject. Each Masorti community, together with its rabbi, will be free to decide whether to carry out these ceremonies and, if so, whether the relationships sanctified by them should be registered under English law as same-sex marriages or civil partnerships.

“Masorti Judaism is proud to be taking this opportunity to make our communities ever more welcoming and to realise our values of inclusion, equality and diversity within the framework of halacha (Jewish law).”

Benjamin Cohen, publisher and Out4Marriage founder, said: “I am delighted that the Masorti movement has joined with the progressive Jewish communities in offering same-sex marriage.

“I know many Masorti same-sex couples who have long yearned for their relationship to be solemnised in the synagogue that they attend every week.

“The fact that the Masorti movement has been able to opt-in now, some time after the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act became law, demonstrates why the opt-in procedures are well thought-out.

“It gives us hope that other religious communities in the future may decide to recognise that love is the same, straight or gay.”

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