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April 03, 1992 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-04-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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46

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A report approved by the
Reconstructionist leadership says
homosexuals are as deserving of sexual
intimacy as are heterosexuals.

IRA RIFKIN

Special to The Jewish News

I

n a statement that goes
beyond any previous Jew-
ish denominational
assertion of homosexual
rights, the Reconstructionist
movement's congregational
umbrella group has called
for the "full and complete
equality of homosexuals in
Jewish life."
The statement of
homosexual equality came
in a 40-page report adopted
by the Federation of
Reconstructionist Congrega-
tions and Havurot. While
not explicitly calling for
rabbinically sanctioned
same-sex marriages, the
report states that homosex-
ual couples have as much
right to committed, sanc-
tioned relationships as do
heterosexuals.
In a statement released
with the report, Reconstruc-
tionist leaders said that the
"complete and unequivocal
equality" they have propos-
ed for homosexuals marks "a
`first' in three millennia of
Jewish history," during
most of which, they ac-
knowledge, homosexuality
was looked upon as an aber-
ration.
Eighteen months in prepa-
ration, the report has also
been approved by the ex-
ecutive committee of the
Reconstructionist Rab-
binical Association. The
group's full membership is
scheduled to take up the
issue in March.
The report "welcome(s)
lesbian and gay individuals
and families as members of
congregations and havurot
with the same rights and
responsibilities as
heterosexual individuals
and families."
It goes on to state that
"lesbian, gay and
heterosexual people are
equally deserving of sexual
intimacy" and that "as we
celebrate the love between
heterosexual couples, so too
do we celebrate the love
between gay or lesbian Jews

Noting that Jewish tradi-
tion places great value on
family and child rearing, the
report concludes that
"lesbian and gay Jews con-

tribute to the building of
strong Jewish values."
While the statement is not
binding on the 70
Reconstructionist congrega-
tions around the nation —
each of which is fully
autonomous —Rabbi
Mordechai Liebling, the ex-
ecutive director of the
Philadelphia-based FRCH,
said he believes that it
reflects the majority view of
the movement's estimated
50,000 affiliated members.
He noted that Reconstruc-
tionist rabbis — as have
Reform rabbis — have al-
ready conducted same-sex
marriages. One such mar-
riage last summer involved
two women associated with
Atlanta's Congregation Bet
Haverim. While the con-
gregation is Reconstruc-

Same-sex
marriages
sanctioned by
Reform and
Reconstructionist
rabbis have already
occurred.

tionist, the rabbi who per-
formed the ceremony was
Reform.
The Reform movement has
no official policy on same-sex
marriages.
"Gay and lesbian Jews are
among the members of our
communities," Rabbi Liebl-
ing said. "They may be our
children or children of our
dearest friends, our co-
workers and neighbors, or
our rabbi or teachers.
"Many gay and lesbian
Jews practice and celebrate
Judaism within our com-
munities. Many more would
do so if given the chance.
We, therefore, fully welcome
gay and lesbian Jews."
Rabbi Liebling also noted
that past Reconstructionist
innovations —including
creation of the bat mitzvah
ceremony and the formal or-
dination of women and their
inclusion in a minyan —
have since been adopted by
both the Reform and Con-
servative movements, and
he predicted that would also
happen with the granting of
full equality to homosex-
uals. 0

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