Liberal Judaism is pleased to announce that committed same-sex partnerships between two Jews can now be recognised by appropriate Jewish ritual and those Rabbis in membership of the Liberal Judaism Rabbinic Conference who wish to officiate at such ceremonies have its support to do so. The Rabbinic Conference recognises that holiness may be present in committed same-sex partnerships and in December 2005 created liturgy for same-sex commitment ceremonies, entitled Brit Ahavah (Covenant of Love).
This development places Liberal Judaism in the vanguard of institutions offering equity and fairness to gay and lesbian partners. The Liberal Judaism Council welcomed the timely policy on this important issue and commended both the clarity and the choices it offers to Liberal Judaism Rabbis and constituent congregations.
As Liberal Judaism stresses equality and inclusion, offers respect to all conscientious options and encourages the synthesis of Judaism and modernity, this addition to our accepted practice is fully consistent with our ideology. Whether or not a Rabbi participates in such an act of prayer is to be determined by their own individual conscience. When the ceremony is to take place in a synagogue, it must be with due regard to the views of its rabbinic and lay leadership. While these ceremonies remain an extension of our inclusive nature, they have no status in either Jewish or civil law.
When same-sex partners are from mixed faiths, as in the case of heterosexual partnerships, Liberal Judaism would stress the benefits of the non-Jewish partner converting to Judaism, but would, if the Rabbinic Conference’s conditions were met, offer the couple a mixed faith blessing.
In the case where one partner in a same-sex relationship is the natural or adoptive parent of a child and the intention of the couple is to raise the child jointly in the role of parents (providing the consent of any natural parents involved in raising the child has been given) the couple will be jointly recognised as the parents of the child for religious purposes. Where those parents are of mixed faith, the faith of the child will be determined in accordance with the same Liberal Judaism policy that applies to children of heterosexual mixed faith couples.
As the civil legal status of same-sex partnerships evolves, the Rabbinic Conference will consider the manner of registering and de-registering them accordingly.
Liberal Judaism’s new policy means that many gay and lesbian Jews, (roughly 10% of our population), who were previously disenfranchised, can now be more fully included in Liberal Jewish life. This, we truly celebrate.
Mixed Faith Marriage Blessings
In April 2003 we were pleased to announce a significant development in the Liberal Judaism approach to mixed faith marriage blessings. As part of an evolutionary process, the Rabbinic Conference of Liberal Judaism has been reviewing the rules that have been in force for some years regarding rabbinic participation in blessings for mixed faith marriages. The major changes that have been agreed include allowing a blessing for such marriages to be given in a synagogue and for accepting the participation of a non-Jewish minister at those blessings. Until now, blessings have been carried out at the discretion of a rabbi, but not on synagogue premises.These are natural developments given that most Liberal Synagogues already welcome non-Jewish spouses and partners as Friends or Associates. While these blessings remain an extension of our inclusive nature, they are not to be seen as Jewish weddings and have no status in either Jewish or civil law.
Liberal Judaism maintains its commitment to prioritise and encourage Jewish marriage through education and example. Where one of the partners is not Jewish we would, whenever appropriate stress the family, religious, and cultural advantages of the non-Jewish partner converting to Judaism.
Whether or not a Liberal Rabbi performs such an act of prayer or attends nuptial celebrations is to be determined by her or his individual conscience, with due regard to the lay leadership of the synagogue concerned and is subject to a range of restrictions.For example, where one of the partners is not Jewish, the Jewish partner must be a member of a Liberal Judaism synagogue and the blessing ceremony can take place either in a synagogue building or on neutral ground.
It is important that the liturgy and rituals should not in any way create the impression that the blessing ceremony constitutes a Jewish wedding and the Rabbi must be satisfied that, should there be children, the couple will be likely to bring them up as Jewish.Liberal Judaism is committed to developing and sustaining Judaism for modernity and the future. We have learned from experience that when we embrace non-Jewish partners of Liberal Jews, we counter the effects of exclusion that lead to increasing levels of assimilation. We provide a platform for the whole family to commit to Jewish values and a Jewish way of life. Is that not worthy of a blessing?
This article is reproduced from Liberal Judaism