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UK gay Rabbi plans to wed

Social change on the way in England & a gay London Rabbi plans to be among first to tie knot when floodgates open in March.
by FROM YNETnews | Jan 24, 2014

Regular Aussie user Karen, who happens to be frum but has an eye for a good story, spotted this one on YNETnews.com this week. and sent it to us.

 

Momentous social and religious change is coming to England and Wales in March when gay marriage will be legalised - and it seems the countries’ Liberal and Reform Jewish communities will be playing a key part.

Rabbi David Mitchell of West London Synagogue wants to be among very first to marry his partner once same-sex marriage becomes legal in England and Wales in late March

Liberal and Reform synagogues across London are lining up to offer the very first same-sex Jewish marriages. They’ll become legal in England and Wales from later in the year.

London is one of the world’s biggest gay centers. But gay couples here have no way of getting married. However, that is set to change very soon. Under new legislation, gay marriage services can take place in England and Wales from March 29, 2014. And one of the very first in the queue to tie the knot with his partner is Rabbi Mitchell.

Breaking taboo

"I think it’s amazing," he says. "I think that first of all it’s about acknowledging how far the UK community has come as a whole. And when you think back to the years when I came out, just before the millennium, and you look at how the world was then and the world now, it’s a brave new world. So I think it’s huge.

"And for the Jewish community as well we are in such a different place now in such a positive way, so I think this is really a welcome piece of legislation.

"I would like to be one of the first couples as of course would my partner," the rabbi adds. "We have been together for nearly 12 years, we were the first Jewish couple in the UK to sign the civil partnership register, to the best of my knowledge.

"We have had a Jewish ceremony in a synagogue but we have never been allowed to get married, and there are lots of couples like us who have been together a while and who just feel they have been denied possibly that final right, that final thing that says our relationship, our partnership, our friendship, all the things that we have together, are as good as anyone else’s."

As well as his own wedding to look forward too, Rabbi Mitchell says he has plenty of other Jewish gay couples interested in making a public commitment in gay ceremonies he will host.

"I have had loads of people get in touch, a surprising number. We have got five couples confirmed who are currently in civil partnerships waiting to get married, and I will definitely be officiating in all of their ceremonies," he promises.

Although not a problem in liberal Judaism, gay marriage is not an option likely to be welcomed by the Orthodox community in London anytime soon. What advice does Rabbi David have for any gay couples who are Orthodox Jews?

"I think I would say to them to ask whether they can have their challah and eat it, because perhaps they can’t, and therefore if they want to come and talk to us they are welcome to," he says. "The shift to an Orthodox rabbi officiating in an Orthodox synagogue at a same-sex ceremony for two Orthodox Jews, I would be amazed if it took place in my lifetime. But who knows? You know, the world has moved on."

9 Comments

  1. 9 Anon 25 Jan
    I thought the S. African Jewish report dealt primarily with Jewish matters. In my opinion nothing could be more un- Jewish than this report.
  2. 8 Ant Katz 26 Jan
    Thanks for taking the trouble to post your view, Anon. As the online editor of this website I report to an editor in chief who reports to a board of directors who believe that this is a medium for all self-identifying Jews.
    That means a worldwide poulation, I understand, of around 15-million. I gather from your comment that you are part of the 2.5-million. Thank G-d for you. And thank G-d for them. Neither could likely survive on their own.
    It takes quite a lare population and a lot of cash to maintain a culture, country, language, currency, intellectual capital and so many other things - let alone a religion.
    I think we all need to accept that, despite how we practice, we are all in this together!

    What say other users? Should (could) Orthodox Jewry survive on its own? Could Israel? Let's hear what you think.
  3. 7 Gary 26 Jan
    the sad thins is this 'rabbi' is likely pro-Palestinian and supports Muslims in Britain both of whom if they had their ways would not tolerate gays
  4. 6 Anon 26 Jan

    Great idea Mr. Editor. This is a very important issue that should be discussed. You are right that there is great diversity amongst the Jewish population, and that we are all in this together. But surely there must be some yardstick that must be followed in any religion. As one editor of a local Jewish media outlet wisely wrote; "I was brought up to believe that the Torah should not be questioned.........". Of course he is right. The Torah is the yardstick for the Jewish people. It should be questioned, but questions should only be put to those who have studied, and are qualified to answer those questions. One cannot accept the opinion of a "Rabbi" who, although might be Jewish, does not follow or believe in Torah given to the Jewish people on Mt. Sinai. In answer to your question Mr. Editor, Should (could) Orthodox Jewry survive on its own. My answer is, Of course it could. It has survived for the past 3500 years. No other form of Jewry can ever survive.

    This is my opinion, but would love to hear others.

  5. 5 Anon 27 Jan

    S.African Jewry has the highest rate of traditional/orthodox members as opposed to other forms of Judaism in the Diaspora. I should imagine it is about 4:1. I believe that this is a prime reason why S.African Jewry has always been regarded as the "finest" in the world. It is for this reason that there is little tolerance for the ideas and lifestyle and ideas of the gay Rabbi from London. Orthodox/ traditional Jewry has survived in S.Africa for a long time, and we certainly do not need other forms of Judaism promoted in any form to 'compete' with or co-exist with. I suggest the printing the above article  can only do harm to our readers, especially the young ones who are not familiar with the 'old fashioned' traditional Torah values of family life.

     

  6. 4 Vivian 29 Jan
    Good day Anon, on the contrary, South African Jewry is a lot more diverse than the image you portray. What can be attested is that SA Jewry has also learnt to be a lot more tolerant of diversity (given out history), we may not be there yet, but we will get there. Yes SA does have the highest rate of people who claim traditionional/orthodox affiliation and it may be the shuls that they choose not to attend, orthodox affiliation is also no indication of a members Hashkafa. Triumphalist statements that no other form or stream of Judaism is counter productive and serves no purpose other than to encourage baseless hatered. 

    It is nice that the Rabbi will now also get civil / legal recognition for their relationship. 

  7. 3 rochel 29 Jan
    He shouldnt even be called a Rabbi. He is going completely against Torah values. 
  8. 2 Anonomous 29 Jan
    I never knew that there were so many biggoted people amoungst the South African Jewry.  Who gives others the right to judge?
  9. 1 Joshua Grigst 21 Feb
    unLESS we learn to live and let live amongst oursaelves as Jews, we are finished. We are not a mindless cult of eastern monks who all wear the same orange garb, have the same haircusts and mumble the same thing as we walk. That's what will keep Jewry alive forever - we think, therefore we"ll always be

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