Tuesday, March 07, 2006

There's One In Every Minyan

According to this article in Haaretz (English), the Conservative movement leadership is proposing to recognise same-sex marriage and gay rabbis. This may actually wind up splitting the movement, unfortunately.

Nor is this the first time the same-sex marriage issue has come up in the context of Israeli politics, which always seem to involve religion, usually tragically. (The old Israeli joke is, "How is a computer like the Knesset? They're both full of jukim [bugs], and controlled by one dos," the pun of course turning on DOS and "religious man.") About a year ago, four Israeli gay couples got married (legally) in Toronto, partially to challenge the Israeli government's policy of only recognising Jewish marriages performed by Orthodox rabbis. Orthodox rabbis will not, as a matter of faith and doctrine, marry same-sex couples. (The supervision of marriage licenses by Orthodox rabbis only is a bone of contention for more than just same-sex couples, since it effectively requires adherents to other movements within Judaism in Israel to undergo Orthodox marriage.) Because, however, Israel recognises civil marriages from abroad, these four couples wanted to challenge the policy by forcing the Israeli government to either recognise their lawful (in Canada) marriage or violate its own rule and then re-write the law. (As far as I know, the case is still pending.)

If the Conservative movement does recognise same-sex marriage and gay rabbis, this may arm the non-religious and non-Orthodox factions within Israeli politics to fight for a reexamination of civil and same-sex marriage regulations, as well as other related civil policies. It is likely, however, to spawn a lot of intra-Israel dissention.


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