Progressive rabbis reaffirm their support for marriage equality

July 12, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
Read on for article

The rabbis of the Moetzah, the Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia and New Zealand, have reaffirmed their 2011 resolution in support of marriage equality and urged the Australian government to act upon this issue.

The July 2011 resolution reads:

Rabbi Adi Cohen

Rabbi Adi Cohen

We, the members of the Moetzah, the Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia and New Zealand, support marriage equality under Australian law.

Judaism teaches that all human beings are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and are therefore entitled to full dignity and equality. The Jewish people are all too familiar with discrimination and worse, and we reject it however rationalised.

Australian law should guarantee equality; marriage being both a religious and a civil status. There is no reason for Australian law to limit or discriminate against the civil or legal rights of any individual or group.

Therefore, we the Moetzah call upon the Australian government to act speedily legislation granting full marriage equality.


26 Responses to “Progressive rabbis reaffirm their support for marriage equality”
  1. Alan Baden says:

    Most people feel intuitively that these progressive Rabbis are wrong. Jumping on the worldwide Anti Family bandwagon. These Rabbi’s put popularity over courage. I wonder are there any other sexual perversions that they would like to attribute to the Torah? Shame.

    • Michael Barnett says:

      Alan, do you have figures to back up your claim “most people”?

      It takes courage to challenge and change convention. That’s actually what progressive Judaism is about – being progressive. If you want to stay in the past, you’re after orthodoxy.

      • Alan Baden says:

        Michael, No i haven’t done a survey, I don’t have figures, however on reflection what would figures do? Popularity doesn’t indicate right and wrong. Leviticus 20-13 tells us what is right and wrong. G-d’s guidance on how to be a successful human being is not subject to contemporary political fashions. Some principles are simply immovable, not subject to change and timeless. The Kabbalah (not very progressive) also teaches us the union of the masculine and feminine is critical to life and humanity.
        The equality of which you support comes from the ego -the intellect, not the heart and not the soul.

        • Michael Barnett says:

          Alan, so really without figures you can’t substantiate your claim “most people”. Surveys with a significant sample size are capable of accurately reflecting the views of a population. Entire industries are based on this possibility.

          You are welcome to base your personal morality on what is written in Leviticus, but you’d be mistaken if you believed mainstream Australia cares an iota what is written in those texts.

          You’d also be mistaken if you believed Progressive Judaism takes literally what is written in Leviticus.

          Demonising homosexual people because you think that sex between two women or two men is perverted is a dangerous argument to have. Jews were demonised because they were deemed to be inferior and unacceptable. Just how far down that slippery slope are you prepared to go?

      • Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

        orthodox Judaism is very much in the here and now and growing worldwide.
        We live in civil societies, if one wishes to follow a heterodox path that is a personal choice.
        everything living is progressive not just one theological aspiration.

        • Michael Barnett says:

          It would be reasonably safe to say that Orthodox Jewish values are resistant to change. Not to say they don’t change, but they are less likely to change. Contrast that with Progressive Jewish values, that are more likely to change to fit the contemporary values of society.

          • Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

            Thoughtful orthodoxy interacts with wider society constantly and intimately,in science medicine and culture.
            We listen intently and filter everything through a Torah prism.
            Sometimes the outcome is agreement, sometimes the outcome is qualified agreement and sometimes the outcome is disagreement.
            I would assume other theologies may have their own internal processes of determination.
            Progressiveness is not the domain of any one grouping, there are no monopolies.
            All who think deeply are enlightened.
            We may not think alike or agree but that is part of human existence.

            • Michael Barnett says:

              “filter through orthodox prism” just gives you license to apply what mainstream society calls bigotry.

              • Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

                Dear Michael
                on a personal note during my 35 years of public service both in Sydney and the US no one ever accused me of bigotry. I never vilified anyone for their religious views or attitudes.
                If there were differences it was on theological grounds which from my standpoint never led to personal acrimony.
                We are all part of the mainstream, who can have the temerity to exclude another person or group and sideline them to the margins?.
                I am open to answer question you my have on this matter

                • Michael Barnett says:

                  You state:

                  “We must respect governments which are elected by the people, we pray they do not enact laws which run contrary to the Divine Desire, if they do we make our opposition heard in a dignified manner and with diplomatic firmness, we never acquiesce to avoid criticism.”

                  When you start requesting governments uphold religious viewpoints in civil law, to the point where it excludes homosexual people from participating in civil (non-religious) marriage, many including myself will call that bigotry.

                  You can dress up your religious perspective as you wish Pinchos but ultimately when you demand a second-class of citizens in society, namely homosexual people, then you are acting in a bigoted fashion.

                  That you’ve not heard people describe your views in this way has now come to an end.

                  In the eyes of Australian federal law there is no requirement for a married couple to be capable of reproduction, or even have intent to do so. If you bring in the spurious argument about reproduction, or even that a child needs a mother and a father, then I’ll remind you that that is also a bigoted perspective.

                  So really, you can play coy on bigotry, but ultimately, that is what your perspective is.

                  • Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

                    I never asked government to exclude homosexuals from civil marriage, you either did not understand the import of my sentiments or you want to misconstrue my intent.
                    I as a citizen however can bring in front of government and society my religious views on any topic.
                    Bigotry is when one denigrates or vilifies other peoples lifestyle which I never do, to the best of my ability.

                    Is it possible that you are being bigoted in your attempt to limit my free speech?.

                    • Michael Barnett says:

                      I have no desire to limit your speech Pinchos in any way whatsoever as long as you do not vilify, degrade or diminish any other people in the process.

                      If you wish the government to exclude same-sex couples from getting married under civil law then I ask you how this impacts your religious freedoms and beliefs.

                      You said “we pray they do not enact laws which run contrary to the Divine Desire,…”. Does this mean writing letters to politicians? Does this mean supporting rabbinic leaders to make representations to the government or politicians?

                      What exactly does this mean in practical terms if it’s not just you saying a bracha?

                      I ask you how this is not a bigotry if you wish to deny a section of the population equality under civil law.

                    • Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

                      Again for the third time I state I have no intention of vilifying anyone.
                      I have no decide to limit peoples civil rights.
                      I am not sure why you are repeating those accusations against me.
                      Once again I repeat your claims of bigotry are groundless.

                    • Michael Barnett says:

                      Does this mean you support the right for same-sex couples to be married under civil law Pinchos?

                    • Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

                      I accept that government have the right to sanction same sex civil unions.
                      If a gay couple is Jewish, and they seek my opinions on same sex issues I would share the Torah perspective with them to the best of my ability, in an atmosphere of openness, mutual respect and dignity.
                      As a rabbi I have had many such discussions, all were amiable, sometimes they accepted my approach sometimes we left the discussion in philosophical disagreement, but we always left as friends.

  2. Paul Winter says:

    The Moetzah members co not speak for me as a long-standing member of North Shore Temple Emanuel. The pious, oh so, so sensitive posture about equality and dignity is just sanctimonious claptrap. The need to act against discrimination,, because Jews had experienced it turns my stomach. I am a Holocaust survivor and I deeply resent people who developed their sensitivity in comfortable safe settings using my experience to push their political agendas. Nobody wants homosexuals to be discriminated. They are accepted and respected, but what they are after is not equality for themselves but for their sexual preferences to be regarded as normal. It isn’t and never will be. Sex is for procreation and recreation with heterosexuals. With homosexuals it is only for recreation. And anyone with a smicha who cannot comprehend that the family – mother, father and children – is the foundation of our culture loses his or her right to offer guidance on Jewish continuity. The Moetzah mob needs to stop chasing every passing politically correct fad and get back to Jewish basics, preferably of the progressive variety.

    • Michael Barnett says:

      Paul no one is forcing you to renew your membership at Temple Emanuel.

    • BARRY MOND says:

      Paul Winter,

      Over many years, I have been a member of various Synagogues and organisations.

      Whenever I have disagreed with a point of view expressed by either a Rabbi of a Congregation, or a President or Board member of a Synagogue or organisation, I always know that my point of view is correct when the reply to the opinion I have expressed to people is, “no one is forcing you to renew your membership”.

      It is an expression symptomatic of those who find it impossible to mount a logical reasoned debate, which would contradict the views that I am expressing.

      Paul, there is no use debating with people like Barnett.

      His response to you is typically of his responses to those with whom he disagrees.

      It empty of all logic and reason.

      So, Paul, congratulations for having the courage to express an opinion which conflicts with the expressed opinion of the Moetzah members.

      It is unfortunate that Mr. Barnett has sought to demean you and your views with a throw away line, that one associates with the unintelligent in our society.

      It is a response which, by its very nature, seeks to stifle discussion and debate, rather than encourage it.

      • Michael Barnett says:


        I’m not sure how you come to the conclusions you have about me based on one question, but you are sorely wrong about me.

        Paul claims sex is only about reproduction. That is such a stupid statement. Most humans have sex hundreds if not thousands more times than the number of children they ever desire to have. The existence of a sex industry is testament to that.

        According to Paul’s ‘logic’, people who are infertile should not be having sex. Vasectomies only exist so men can have sex without risk of reproducing. The Pill only exists so women can have sex without risk of pregnancy. Women who have been though menopause should not be having sex according to Paul. Condoms exist to stop men getting women pregnant.

        What he claims is not only incorrect but it is entirely illogical, stupid and ignorant. Humans have sex for pleasure with regularity. Humans mostly avoid reproduction in order to have sex for pleasure.

        To demonise the sex between two men or two women because it is not capable of reproduction is like demonising an infertile heterosexual couple for not being able to reproduce. So what if gay couples can’t biologically reproduce? What is it to him? Most people don’t care about whether people who can’t reproduce have sex with each other. Yet this appears to be an issue to Paul.

        Paul claimed that Progressive Judaism should get back to being progressive. He seems to overlook the fact that support for marriage equality is a progressive value. What he should be calling for, to support his bigotry, is that Progressiuve Judaism should get back to being progressive but not supporting equality rights for gay people, because that’s what he means, but is too scared to say it.

        Paul claims support for marriage equality is a politically correct fad. If he wants to talk about fads, let’s look at how long homosexuality has existed on this planet and how long Progressive Judaism has existed. The former, some millions of years; the latter, since 1926. Which one is the fad?

        Barry, rather than attack me, how about you provide an intelligent argument against marriage equality, because claiming that I am without logic or reason is a cheap ad hominem shot.

        I’ll finish up by saying that perhaps in Paul’s case he’s right that people only have sex for reproduction. If that is the case, I can only imagine his frustration.

        • BARRY MOND says:

          Bla Bla Bla, Michael.

          You read Paul’s post, and your answer was “no one is forcing you to renew your membership at Temple Emanuel.”

          Now that I have pointed out that your reply was one that is “symptomatic of those who find it impossible to mount a logical reasoned debate, and is designed to “stifle debate rather than encourage it”, you then decide to actually post your reasons as to why you disagree with Paul’s post.

          I don’t intend to debate you on that, because even though I congratulated Paul for having the courage to speak out against those whose advice I am sure Paul would normally accept, the substance of my post, was never about the contents of his post,but rather your disgracefully weak response to Paul.

          That is how I came to my conclusions about you.

          As someone who prides himself on having the capacity to debate in a reasoned and reasonable manner, you let yourself down with that response to Paul.

          If you had any decency at all, you would have accepted my critique, apologized to Paul, and then continued with what should have been your comments to Paul in reply to his post, rather than disrespectful reply that you posted.

          • Michael Barnett says:

            Que? Si? Siberian Hamster!

          • Michael Barnett says:

            I need to apologise for not having responded to Paul Winter’s comment accurately. He did claim heterosexual people have sex both for procreation and recreation. I overlooked the latter in my response. However what he misleadingly implies is that all heterosexual people have sex for both purposes.

            Many heterosexual couples have sex for procreation purposes, but those who are infertile or who wish to remain childless do not have sex for that reason. There are plenty of heterosexual couples who for whatever reason just have sex for pleasure.

            What Paul Winter is doing is placing his morality on sexual behaviour, by saying “because heterosexual people can reproduce” their sexual activity is justifiable, and so the sexual activity of homosexual people is not justifiable.

            Perhaps he hasn’t heard of IVF, surrogacy or turkey basters.

            Heterosexual people use them, and so do homosexual people, to have children. So if he really is talking about penis/vagina conception, then yes, that is the only way two people can physically reproduce with each other without the use of technological intervention. However not all heterosexual people can conceive that way, so really, his morality argument falls flat.

  3. Michael Barnett says:

    What does civil marriage equality have to do with Orthodox Judaism???????

  4. Rabbi Chaim Ingram says:

    All human beings are indeed created b’teslem Elokim, in the imnage of G-D.

    The problem with those revisionists among our people who wish to reinvent the Torah is that the are doing the opposite. The seek to re-create G-D in their own image.

  5. Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

    Correct, every human being is created in the image of her or his Creator.
    Every person must be treated with dignity and compassion, irrespective of race religion or personal philosophy.
    Every Jew should be educated with love and kindness to follow the Will of G-d as taught by our immutable Torah and every Gentile should accept to live according to the 7 Noahide Universal Codes.
    Such dual strivings will lead to the Messianic Redemption when there will be eternal peace and harmony for all Humankind.
    We must respect governments which are elected by the people, we pray they do not enact laws which run contrary to the Divine Desire, if they do we make our opposition heard in a dignified manner and with diplomatic firmness, we never acquiesce to avoid criticism.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.