Masorti Judaism says yes to same-sex ceremonies
The Board of Trustees agrees a landmark decision for the movement.
At its meeting last night, Masorti Judaism’s board of trustees agreed to the following statement:
“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).”
Masorti Senior Rabbi, Jonathan Wittenberg, commented: “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.”
Matt Plen, Masorti Judaism’s Chief Executive, added: “I’m proud to be part of a movement which considers this kind of important issue slowly and carefully while taking into account the views of all its members, and which demonstrates by its actions that traditional religious commitment can be combined with deeply-held modern values.”
Joel Fenster, Mazkir (director) of Noam, Masorti Youth, said: “Noam is proud and supportive of this landmark decision, which we see as a necessary step towards full equality. We will continue to push the Masorti communities towards greater scrutiny of the gender imbalance in the traditional marriage ceremony, and ensuring same sex couples have full access to Jewish marriage.”
Some questions about this decision
What is a shutafut ceremony?
Why have the rabbis not approved the use of the traditional kiddushin ceremony?
How can I find out which Masorti communities are providing same-sex ceremonies?
Do other Conservative/Masorti communities outside the UK allow same-sex ceremonies?
What will happen to Masorti communities who choose not to allow same-sex ceremonies?
If you want to find out more information about the decision you can view the two responsa of the Committee of Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) of the Rabbinical Assembly in the United States that the rabbis based their decisions on:
Homosexuality, Human Dignity & Halakah: A Combined Responsum for the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards by Rabbis Elliot N Dorff, Daniel S Nevins and Avram I Reisner