Dealing with homosexuality rabbinically

Answers to questions about Jewish matters by SAJR’s eminent panel of rabbis & rebbetzens
by SAJR RELIGIOUS PANEL | Jun 13, 2014


“I have some friends who are gay who are committed Jews and who go to an Orthodox shul. In fact the one is even Shomer Shabbat. They are currently considering getting married and would very much like a Jewish wedding. Will the Orthodox rabbinate perform such a wedding in South Africa and if not how should they proceed. I am sure you will agree the last thing we want to do as a community is exclude these people from our congregations. What is the official position on this?”


Rabbi Ari Kievman of Chabad House, answers: 

Torah says to "love your fellow as yourself". This is an unconditional mitzvah. Rabbi Akiva says it is "a cardinal principle in the Torah” and the great sage Hillel even declared: "This is the entire Torah; all the rest is commentary." Torah law forbids bigotry; homophobia is prohibited. Judging another person is contrary to Torah law. 

There is obviously no way, though, that the Torah would sanction a marriage that is forbidden by its own law. Hence a rabbi cannot preside over a ceremony that subverts the unequivocal Biblical prohibition against sexual relations between two males. 

Every Jew is most welcome to come to shul and be part of the community. A Jew belongs in a Jewish environment. Each of us, struggling or not, needs to be in a truly Torah-observant environment and must be made to feel most welcome. 

There is much contemporary Jewish literature written on this subject and for those truly interested I suggest to study further... Official policies should be checked with the Beth Din who are the local policy-makers for Orthodox Judaism. 

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  1. 6 Trevor 13 Jun
    Knowing Rabbi Kevman personally I can attest that he practices exactly what he has preached here. Without getting into much detail, when I was struggling with acceptance at other Shuls chabad has accepted me wholeheartedly for who I am as a Jew regardless of my sexual persuasion. I wasn't made to feel inferior or different though the rabbi did make it clear to me in a dignified manner what the Torah perspective was. 
  2. 5 Israeli 13 Jun
    A question for the questioner: Why on earth would a gay 'couple' want to get married by the Orthodox Rabbinate?
  3. 4 Peter 17 Jun
    I'm a transgender Jew and was prohibited from getting an Aliya at the Shul. Is that fair? I haven't yet found any souls to be accommodating myself and Jews in simile situations. It's as if you have to  fit a particular mould to fit in and otherwise you're unacceptable. I wonder if this rabbi kievman would actually allow me into his synagogue or find a reason why not. 
  4. 3 Phil 19 Jun
    Peter perhaps you should do your homework before posting in a public forum. I've been to Rabbi Kievman's shul and felt most welcome. He knew of my trans history. If you arent comfortable at Orthodox shuls there are reform shuls who would welcome your full  participation in the service. 
  5. 2 Peter 24 Jun
    @Phil:  I haven't been to Rabbi Kievman's Shul. I was just expressing what I feel like at other Shuls. At this point I have no interest in going to any Shul but it's refreshing to know that there is hope. I would love to meet such a rabbi who is nonjudgmental because my experiences have been otherwise. 
  6. 1 Marc 27 Jun
    As a Reverend running a small community I can only support what Rabbi Kievmann states:  All are welcome to attend and be part of the community but the Torah law remains the law and we cannto depart from that.  The Torah forbids same sex relationships and thus there is no way in which a same sex marriage could be conducted in an Orthodox setting.  LGBT individuals are always welcome in shul, but that is always going to be subject to the laws in the Torah. 

    We cannot sanction a same sex relationship by sanctifying it with Kiddushin and Nissuin, just as we cannto sanction treatign a man as woman or a woman as a man regardless of how much surgery and medication has been utilised to transition.  Yes, we know it is difficult for such individuals, we know that it is painful to not be accepted as whom you perceive yourself to be by the community you wish to be part of.  e do our betsto make people comfortable, to aloow you to remian a part of the community, but in the end we have to be guided by the Torah and all such relationships between a community and individuals need to be conducted within that framework


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