A synagogue welcomes LGBTI

August 13, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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In view of the current focus in Australia on Marriage Equality and the international attention surrounding the subject, Sydney’s North Shore Temple Emanuel (NSTE) wishes to ensure that LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) individuals and couples feel welcome in our congregation and experience our synagogue as an environment in which they and their partners are treated with dignity and respect.

NSTE has made a positive statement confirming its position.

In 2008 the Board of NSTE resolved to remove any prohibition on its rabbis performing same-sex commitment ceremonies. This followed a decision of the Moetzah (Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia and New Zealand) and extensive consultation with the congregation at that time including two public forums and deliberation over several months.

Rabbi Nicole Roberts and Rabbi Gary Roebuck

Rabbi Nicole Roberts and Rabbi Gary Roebuck

The Board of NSTE has reaffirmed that it supports same-sex commitment ceremonies as an affirmation of the sacredness of loving, committed relationships between Jewish couples, regardless of gender. The Board deems it important to give all Jewish couples the opportunity to demonstrate their lifelong commitment to one another in a Jewish way and in a Jewish context.

As same-sex marriages are not currently within Australian law, Moetzah (Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia and New Zealand) rabbis are not permitted to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.  Should such marriages be made legal under Australian law, the decision will rest with each individual rabbi whether to perform ceremonies that are identical to a marriage in all respects or distinctive in some way.

Joint Rabbinic Statement 

Marriage Equality and Same Sex Commitment Ceremony Officiation 

The Moetzah (Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia, and New Zealand) recently reaffirmed its 2011 resolution in support of marriage equality.  As members of the Moetzah, we, Rabbi Gary J. Robuck and Rabbi Nicole K. Roberts, stand in solidarity with, and take pride in, the Moetzah’s position on this issue.

While Australian law does not currently permit Ministers of Religion to marry couples of the same-sex, many of our rabbinic colleagues the world over—both within and beyond our Progressive movement—have chosen to affirm the sacredness of loving, committed relationships between Jewish couples, regardless of gender, through officiation of commitment ceremonies.  We pledge to do the same.

We applaud the North Shore Temple Emanuel Board of Directors’ 2008 resolution “removing any prohibition on rabbis performing same sex commitment ceremonies,” which followed extensive consultation with the congregation at that time.

We have arrived at our position on marriage equality and determined to officiate at same sex commitment ceremonies following careful consideration of Jewish sources, both ancient and contemporary; through discussion with each other and our colleagues; through consultation with our current Board of Directors whose unanimous support we enjoy; through our individual life experiences; and through the searching of our own souls.  We invite you to do the same.  Should you seek our participation or wish guidance in your study and reflective process, our doors are always open.

In the event that your personal view may differ from that reached by Rabbi Robuck, Rabbi Roberts, and our Board of Directors, be assured that it will be respected as one of many in our sacred community, a congregation in which every person is recognised as having been created b’tzelem Elohim—in the image of God.

 

Comments

3 Responses to “A synagogue welcomes LGBTI”
  1. Miriam Weinstein says:

    So what happens when someone and his mother or sister are madly in love with each other?
    Will these rabbis be happy to perform commitment ceremonies as an affirmation of the sacredness of loving, committed relationships between Jewish couples?

    Will the Board deems it important to give all Jewish couples the opportunity to demonstrate their lifelong commitment to one another in a Jewish way and in a Jewish context?

    “We have arrived at our position on marriage equality and determined to officiate at same sex commitment ceremonies following careful consideration of Jewish sources”

    Can we be informed about which sources brought them to this position?
    Obviously it wasn’t the Torah which clearly states that male homosexuality is “To’evah” = abomination

    And – lehavdil – the Koran or the Christian version of the bible -= old and new testaments don’t view it any more sympathetically.

    So really, what are these rabbis going on about??

  2. Danuta Glendenning says:

    The Torah must be a forbidden book in that synagogue.

    • Lindsay J Thorpe says:

      Near the beginning of Genesis, it says that we are all made b’zelem Elohim – in the image of God.
      No matter what else it might say in the Torah, we would do well to remember that.
      ALL of us are made in the image of God, not just some of us.

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