Sunday, March 12, 2006

Some Resources for LGBT Jews

The Halakhic Status of Homosexual Behavior

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly (or CJLS) is scheduled to meet December 5-6, 2006 to consider the halakhic status of homosexual behavior under the Conservative Movement. The information on this website, compiled by The Jewish Theological Seminary using a variety of sources, provides background on the issue to help concerned Jews and other interested people to understand the mechanics of the CJLS and the history behind the discussion of homosexuality in Conservative Judaism.

JTS will update this site as needed to keep the material as fresh, comprehensive, and accurate as possible.

On this JTS website you will find:

* History of the Issue
* Introducing Conservative Judaism
* Decision-Making Process
* JTS Process
* Additional Resources

For more information, visit the websites of the Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

Recent Articles:

Conservative Rabbis Reconsider Stance on Gay Sex -

LA Times: Panel faces tough debate on gay Jews

US Jewish movement moves to allow gay rabbis - REUTERS

JTA: Conservative decision on gays will be a watershed, either way

Conservative Rabbis To Decide on Gay Unions, Ordination -

The Jewish Week: Coming Out For Gays At JTS?

Bay Area LGBT Jews to get helping hand from new group


WCGLBTJ - Keshet Ga'avah (World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews - Rainbow of Pride)

Jerusalem Open House

Mosaic: The National Jewish Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity

Jewish Values and Inclusivity: The Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation - Article by Francine Lis in HUC Chronicle Spring 2006

Jeff Herman Virtual Resource Center on Sexual Orientation Issues in the Jewish Community

Sermon about Hate Crimes

"Tolerance: The Sacred Link - Parshat Trumah 5764" Excerpt from a Sermon by Rabbi Alan Lew (formerly) of Cong. Beth Sholom of San Francisco CA. The reference to Rabbenu Tom should read Rabbenu Gershom.

"Family Violence: Our Problem, Too" by Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff

Resources from the USCJ Website:

USCJ = The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (umbrella organization for Conservative synagogues):

June 2006: USCJ leadership takes stance on proposed Marriage Amendment

On June 6, 2006, Dr. Raymond B. Goldstein, President, and Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, Executive Vice President, The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, issued the following statement:

In 2003 The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism adopted a resolution that provides in pertinent part:

"The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism views the application of equality as a standard which cannot be eroded by any other determinant, race, religion or history. Members of our faith are not unfamiliar with discrimination and worse. We will reject it, however rationalized. We will remain determined to fight for genuine equality, accepting neither discrimination per se nor discrimination garbed in the dress of double standards."

All Americans are entitled to equality under the civil laws of the United States. Marriage being both a religious and a civil status, The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism does not support any action by the federal government or by any state or local government that discriminates and denies equal protection of the civil laws to gay and lesbian Americans who seek to have relationships recognized when they fall within the bounds of the civil law. Where the civil law recognizes certain rights and obligations as following from a relationship created under the civil laws, those rights and obligations should not be denied to any two Americans seeking to create such a civil relationship.

The federal government of the United States has no authority to define the religious elements of a marriage for any religious group.

While our scholars may debate the status, rights and obligations under Jewish law of various individuals who seek to conform their lives to Jewish law, no matter what Jewish law may or may not provide concerning marriage, there is no reason for Congress to seek to pass a Constitutional amendment, which limits or discriminates against the civil or legal rights of any individual or group.

Gay Unions - Sanctified and Separate (Rabbi Gerald Zelizer in USA Today 5/31/2000)

POINT: We Can’t Legitimate Homosexuality Halakhically (Rabbi Joel Roth)

COUNTERPOINT: Medical and Moral Reasons to Change the Law (Rabbi Elliot Dorff)

USCJ Torah Sparks: Nitzavim-Vayelekh 5764 - What is your opinion on the issue of the ordination of gay rabbis?

USCJ Convention Resolution on Hate Crimes (1999)

Resources from Keshet Rabbis (Gay-friendly Conservative & Masorti Rabbis):
1) Teshuvot / Responsa relating to GLBT issues and Conservative Halachah
2) Sample Rituals for Marriage Commitment Ceremonies
3) Divrei Torah by Rabbis and lay leaders relating to GLBT issues
4) Biblical and Talmudic Resources (Compiled by KeshetJTS Student Activist Group)
5) Suggested Books and Articles on the Conservative Movement and Homosexuality
6) Making Your Synagogue Welcoming to Gays & Lesbians (Compiled by KeshetJTS)

Resources from the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement:

Reconstructionism Today, Winter 2003-2004
The Battle Over Same-Sex Marriage Has Just Begun (Rabbi Toba Spitzer)

"GAY JUDAISM" AND THE STRUGGLE FOR INCLUSION Reconstructionism Today, Autumn 2003
The values-based approach of the Reconstructionist movement recognizes homosexuality as a fundamental aspect of identity that deserves to be treated with the Jewish value of b’tzelem elohim (respect for human beings as made in God’s image)....
(Rabbi Joshua Lesser)

BECOMING A "KEHILLAH MEKABELET" (welcoming congregation)
Reconstructionism Today, Summer, 1998
The Struggles of Transformation (Roberta Israeloff)

Welcoming the Once Alienated: In an archived radio broadcast The Welcoming Congregation, author Roberta Israeloff traces her faith journey from alienation to her spiritual home in a Reconstructionist congregation.

Charting the New Maps: Reflections on Jewish Lesbian and Gay Life Cycle Celebrations, (Rabbi Leila Gal Berner), pp. 23-28, Reconstructionist Journal, Spring 2000

The Report of the Reconstructionist Commission on Homosexuality
1993, 42 pages Softcover $10.00 ($9.00)

A Reconstructionist Workshop Series
Edited by Rabbi Robert Gluck
1993, 115 pages Softcover $18.00 ($16.20)

From the Union for Reform Judaism on Gay & Lesbian Inclusion:

Kulanu, All of Us: A Program for Congregations Implementing Gay and Lesbian Inclusion, The UAHC Task Force on Lesbian and Gay Inclusion, URJ Press, 1996.

Resolution on same gender officiation made by the CCAR (the Central Conference of North American Reform Rabbis).

Statement by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the URJ, in response to the CCAR resolution on same gender officiation.

CCAR Responsa (Decisions by Reform Rabbis on Jewish Law):

CCAR Responsum from 5756 (roughly 1996) On Homosexual Marriage. NYP no. 5756.8

CCAR Responsum from 5758 (roughly 1998): Baby Naming for a Religiously-Mixed Lesbian Couple. NYP no. 5758.2

CCAR Responsum from 5762 (roughly 2002): Boycotts in the Name of Social Justice.
NYP no. 5762.4

SHJ (Society for Humanistic Judaism) Statement Commending and Supporting Reform Movement Request for Boycott of Boy Scouts

And you shall love your friend as yourself (Leviticus 19:18)
Same-Sex Kidushin v-Nisu’in

ALEPH proudly announces the publication of a ground-breaking paper on same-sex marriage by rabbinical student Eyal Levinson. Working within the parameters of halachic discussion, particularly as described by Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits in his book "Not In Heaven," Levinson develops an argument which draws on classical sources even as it demonstrates the necessity of going beyond them in the service of the ethical. The paper, which includes a suggested k'tubah / marriage contract for same-sex couples and a special afterward by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, is available from the ALEPH ReSources Catalog
Same-Sex Kidushin v-Nisu’in by Eyal Levinson
From the Author's Introduction: "This paper is divided into three sections. The first explains the halachah as I understand it, the way it functioned in the past, how it operates today, and how we can renew its meaning in our lives. The second deals with homosexuality and suggests how halachicly, klal yisra’el can change its present attitude and welcome gays and lesbians into its Jewish communities. The third section deals with the ever evolving institution of marriage, examples of same-sex relationships in our tradition, and finally, it focuses on the marriage ceremony and proposes a halachicly based kidushin v-nisu’in ceremony for same-sex couples."
$20 non-member or $18 ALEPH member

Some Books Available by and for LGBT Jews:

Exile in the Promised Land. Marcia Freedman Firebrand Books (out of print)

Gay American History. Jonathan Ned Katz, Penguin Books

Lesbiot: Israeli Lesbians Talk About Sexuality, Feminism, Judaism, and Their Lives.
Tracy Moore, Cassell

Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition. Rebecca T. Alpert

Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology., Evelyn Torton Beck, Beacon Press

The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War against Homosexuals. Richard Plant, Henry Holt and Company

Stone Butch Blues: A Novel. Leslie Feinberg, Firebrand

Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Rupaul. by Leslie Feinberg, Beacon Press

The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology. Melanie Kaye and Irena Klepfisz, Beacon Press

Twice Blessed: On Being Lesbian, Gay, and Jewish. Christie Balka and Andy Rose, Beacon Press