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Orthodox Rabbis Issue Statement Supporting Gays and Lesbians

Modern-Orthodox Rabbis, educators, and mental-health professionals from the US and Israel issued a statement this week urging support and respect for gays and lesbians. The document, which has more than 100 signatures, was issued last week on the eve of the one-year anniversary of a deadly shooting at a gay club in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade. While the statement, called a “Statement of Principles,” condemns disrespectful behavior towards homosexuals, it does not accept homosexual acts or same-sex marriage.

The statement was initiated six months ago by a panel that included three homosexual Jewish leaders, according to the San Francisco Sentinel. While the statement is designed to be inclusive, it pushes the limits of traditional Orthodox Judaism, which continues to believe that homosexuality is an abomination, according to the Religious News Service. The statement attempts to distinguish between homosexual acts, which are forbidden by the Torah, and people with homosexual orientation, who deserve respect and kindness.

According to Haaretz, the statement says that, “Jews with homosexual orientations or same sex-attractions should be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community.” The statement also points out that while Orthodox Judaism does not condone homosexual acts, sexual orientation is unrelated “to our obligation to treat human beings with same-sex attractions and orientations with dignity and respect.”

The statement makes clear that Jewish Law does not condone same-sex marriage and pledges support for “heterosexual marriage as the ideal model and sole legitimate outlet for human sexual expression. The sensitivity and understanding we properly express for human beings with other sexual orientations does not diminish our commitment to that principle.”

Sources:

Religious News Service 8/2/10; Haaretz 7/28/10; San Francisco Sentinel 7/28/10