Dec 7, 2006
The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) has, with great sadness, taken note of this week's decision of the Rabbinical Assembly to allow for the ordination of gays and lesbians, as well as permission to officiate at so-called same-sex "commitment ceremonies."
This decision represents yet another significant step in the further estrangement of the Conservative movement from Jewish law (halachah) and tradition. Homosexual behavior is a clear and unambiguous biblical prohibition. The attempts to formulate halachic license or creative interpretation to permit prohibited behavior should not mislead anyone committed to traditional Judaism, into thinking that there can be any permissibility to homosexual activity, whether by rabbis or laypersons. And thus, to permit those who openly proclaim their non-adherence to Torah law, to assume positions of rabbinic leadership, is an entirely regrettable step.
We are also saddened by the concurrent decision of the Rabbinical Assembly to permit same-sex "commitment ceremonies" which undermine the institution of Jewish marriage and Jewish family life. In this regard we reaffirm the joint statement of the RCA and Orthodox Union, made on March 30th 2004, hereby appended to this statement.
Regrettably, these decisions will in the end serve to further deepen the schisms within the Jewish people.
March 30 2004
On "Same-Sex Marriage": A Statement of Principle
The Rabbinical Council of America and The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America reaffirm the following foundational principles and beliefs in unambiguous and unmistakable terms:
• Homosexual behavior is, and has always been, absolutely forbidden by Jewish law and tradition. Any attempt to characterize Jewish law and tradition to the contrary must be rejected.
• The only legitimate form of sexual behavior is that which takes place between adult men and women, within the sacred institution of marriage, as traditionally defined and permitted.
• Under no circumstances can Jewish tradition or law countenance a notion of so-called "Same-Sex Marriage" rituals or status under religious auspices. In our view, the term "marriage" by its very definition cannot be construed or applied to same-sex relationships. To do so is to deprive the term of its fundamental and defining meaning. The institution of marriage, and family life, as defined and practiced for thousands of years as between a man and a woman, a father and a mother, respectively, is far too important and essential to the bedrock of society and civilization as we know it, to be thus undermined by those who presume to redefine its essence.
• At the same time we reaffirm that those who, in spite of their acceptance of these principles, have difficulty in living up to these standards, should be treated with compassion, sensitivity, and understanding, in our synagogues, in the Jewish community, and in society at large.
• We further note that Passover, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt, is an especially appropriate time to reaffirm these principles. As Leviticus 18 makes clear, the liberation was not only from slavery and infanticide, but also from the sexual depravity practiced in ancient Egypt, which, as understood by the Sages of blessed memory (Sifra Lev. 132), included the legitimization of same-sex marriages.
• We thus call upon our fellow Jews and fellow citizens to stand opposed to any attempt, whether judicial, legislative, or religious in nature, to bestow the sanctity of marriage upon same-sex couples.