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Rabbi Wine of the Birmingham
Temple took a stronger position.
"The approach of Humanistic
Judaism is that Leviticus is
morally wrong," he said.
The homosexual community
also has different shades of ac-
ceptance with regard to commit-
Some couples, like Lev Raphael
and Gersh Kaufman of East
Lansing, vacillate over the issue
of not having the ceremony (be-
cause it is a heterosexual institu-
tion) or having it (because
consecrating a relationship is a
"One part says, 'Let's do it,' "
Mr. Raphael said. "Another part
says, 'I don't need it. We don't
need it. We are happy as we are."
Others want to have the cere-
monies, but do not want to have
Joe is a local Jewish man who
will take part next fall in a small
commitment ceremony with his
Catholic lover, Michael. He said
fear of reprisals have kept them
from being more public. Joe re-
cently started a business and is
concerned clients would reject
"It is a public ceremony that I
would like to share with every-
one, but if it impacts my business
I would really regret it," he said.
Liza Beers, an agnostic with an
informal Christian upbringing,
and Marlowe Robinson feel that
having the ceremony is taking
another step in the march toward
equal rights for gays and lesbians.
Rabbi Schwartz, who will pre-
side over the ceremony for the
two, feels it is part of his job as a
rabbi to give blessings to those
who request them.
"If one of my children came to
me and told me that he was gay,
would I cut him off at the knees?
Would I throw him out of the
house? No. I would tell him that
I loved him, that I care about
him," Rabbi Schwartz said.
"If it was my kid and my kid
wanted a blessing for something,
I would want him to be blessed."
Linda Robinson is comforted
Initially, she was disturbed to
find out that her daughter was
"engaged" to a woman. She
doesn't consider the commitment
ceremony a wedding as her
daughter does. Nor does she con-
sider the period before the cere-
mony an engagement.
But she loves her daughter and
struggles to understand.
Next year around this time, the
Robinson family will go to their
temple. Some family members
and friends will take part im the
service, during which Rabbi
Schwartz will bless Marlowe and
"I have a lot of respect for him,"
Mrs. Robinson said. "It is far more
comforting that my own rabbi will
do it. Far more comforting." ❑
JILL DAVIDSON SKLAR STAFF WRITER
hen Phyllis Wenig
heard that her rabbi
ceremonies, she was
surprised and she was pleased.
Ms. Wenig, a founding mem-
ber of Congregation Shir Tikvah,
said Rabbi Arnie Sleutelberg's
decision to perform the cere-
monies is a natural outgrowth
of the temple's philosophy.
"I am glad that when people
find someone to love who is con-
siderate of their feelings, they
have somewhere they can go
and be accepted," she said. "I am
glad that it is with us."
She is not the only one.
Several congregants from the
three temples where rabbis have
agreed to perform commitment
ceremonies said they were sur-
prised to hear that the cere-
monies have come to their
temples but are supportive of
their rabbis' choices.
Rabbis at Temple Shir
Shalom, Temple Israel and
Congregation Shir Tikvah have
said they have performed the
ceremonies or will in the near
"We have always been very
open at Shir Tikvah as to what
we allow," said Claire Galed, a
12-year member. "We told our
rabbi that he needs to follow the
course that he feels confident
Joel Piell, president of Temple
Israel, said the Reform move-
ment as a whole is embracing of
Dr. Alan Mindlin, president
of Temple Shir Shalom, said the
congregation has advocated a
"freedom of the pulpit" position
regarding the rabbi's role.
"He can do anything that is
legal without fear that someone
from the temple leadership will
call him to question him," Dr.
However, not everyone is as
open to the idea of commitment
Robert Dickman, a human-
rights attorney and co-president
of the social action committee at
Temple Israel, does not like the
idea. While he advocates the de-
struction of any social barrier to
human rights for all, he is not
comfortable with the religious
aspect of the ceremonies.
"To my knowledge, there ex-
ists in the teachings of Judaism
no justification of the sanction-
ing of such a relationship," he