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.
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.
“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.”
New York Times rebuked
Paper’s public editor rebukes The New York Times reporter for asking PhD candidate David McCleary, pic. ‘demeaning’ questions as he didn’t look Jewish
A reporter for the New York Times came under fire for asking a Jewish Ph.D. candidate “insulting and demeaning” questions for an article on the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on college campuses across the US.
The questions that were asked of University of California, Berkeley candidate David McCleary, included whether he “looked Jewish” given his apparently non-Jewish sounding last name and whether he had had a barmitzvah.
RIGHT: The New York Times Editor weighs in on ‘demeaning’ questions to Jewish PhD student.
He said he was “displeased” that his remarks were withheld from the ultimate publication of the story and that no Jewish student who supports the BDS movement on campuses was quoted.
McCleary’s complaint to the Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, who in the end agreed that such questioning was “unprofessional and unacceptable,” underlined the brouhaha around an article published by the newspaper last Saturday about the BDS movement and its consequences on college campuses.
Responding to Sullivan’s admission, McCleary told the Algemeiner: “While the Jewish litmus test I received was offensive, it isn’t nearly as offensive as the New York Times ignoring my voice and thousands like me who are Jewish students in favour of BDS for Israel.”
Piece didn’t provide evidence
Critics of the story have argued that the piece itself did not provide much evidence to back the complaint of its headline, which states that the BDS issue “drives a wedge” between Jews and minority groups on campus.
“To make this into a ‘Minority vs Jewish’ question, without supplying evidence, is to distort the issue,” said David Nasaw, the Arthur M Schlesinger Junior professor of history at Graduate Centre, City University of New York.
Unique baby names @ just $31k
Expectant parents who are struggling to find a unique name for their baby are in luck. JTA reports this Swiss company will do it for you, for just $31,000!
Expectant parents, if you’re paging through baby name pages looking for a unique name to no avail (have you checked ours yet?), you’re in luck. Erfolgswelle – a Swiss firm that specialises in naming babies – will happily volunteer its 32 person staff to spend 100 hours searching for unique, copyright-free names for your child.
All for the tune of $31,000, because who needs a college fund really? Squares, that’s who, and you’ll be damned if your kid becomes anything less than the uniquely-shaped polygon he or she was born to be.
But, writes Suzanne Samin on JTA’s KVELLER, “in all seriousness, I totally get wanting a special name for your kid. I just don’t get spending an arm and leg for it by contracting out a service like this one. But, to each his or her own, and if you’re really into the idea of hiring out a monolith to name your child, they’re offering to reimburse the full charge for the first couple to report their new baby name to the media within two weeks of receiving it.”
How cute is this? Not $31,000 – that’s for sure!
Darth Zeder & a wonky knee
Special needs self-styled “passenger from hell” on ElAl couldn’t match his needs with his budget.
Will I fly ElAl again next time? Hell yeh! Not only were they great at what they do, they and came through with ‘flying’ colours!
In a recent BLOG BY ANT KATZ, SAJR Online’s editor asks: “What is it with SA Jewry and ElAl?” Ant says that “SA Jewry fall into the pro- or anti-ElAl camp,” and then proceeds to give an account of his own experience of flying with the airline last month.
In the blog entitled: “Facts, fun and fallacies about ElAl,” Katz says that it was “the hapstance of timing” that had resulted in his flying on the Airline. “As it happened, on the week I was travelling, ElAl offered the lowest price, most suitable times for me, and, what’s more, the only non-stop route which was important as embarking and disembarking was going to be difficult for me at the time.
Passenger from hell
“You see,” says Ant Katz, “on this trip, I was the customer from hell! I was a special-needs passenger who could not match his needs with his budget. I needed wheelchair assistance to board and disembark, a seat with extra legroom and a 110 or 220v electric plug” at his seat.
“Suffice it to say, in a very Jewish and/or Israeli way, one way or another, my needs were met completely, against ElAl policies and despite all the naysayers” in the community, blogs Ant. “Here’s the thing… the one simple fact: In so many ways, ElAl was incredible.”
He proceeds to share his tale about ElAl policies being the most stringent he has ever encountered, and accuses the ‘serial complainers’ in the community of having “groomed” him to expect otherwise.
As it turned out, ElAl moved heaven and earth to accommodate him – even sending a technical team to modify a plane close to midnight at Ben Gurion airport.
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