Part One - Homosexuality
A couple of months ago one of those regular waves of communal debate about the place of homosexuality in Judaism broke over the Jewish Chronicle. Reform and Orthodox voices chipped in. Masorti was silent. In truth we, the Rabbis of Masorti Judaism, have been nervous and uneven on the issue. Some are more in favour of taking public positions, even on contentious issues. Some are more in favour of keeping our heads low. Some are more in favour of Halachic moderation. Some are more inclined to enforce more traditional standards. Certainly we would all condemn the idiocy of the extremist Orthodoxy that led Rabbi Noson Leitner to opine that the ‘same-gender marriage recognition movement’ were to blame for Tropical Storm Sandy, but nor would any of us articulate the language of halachic disregard that Reform and Liberal Jewish leaders have adopted.
In a new Masorti publication on relationships I am publishing the first public attempt to plot a path ‘What Should Gay Jews Do’ in the Masorti Movement. The essay is also available on my blog http://tinyurl.com/cg5gd96 and I will be teaching on the subject at the Masorti Seminar on Judaism and Relationships this Sunday from 10:30 at the JHub on West End Lane. See www.masorti.org.uk for more information. Any members who would like to discuss this issue further are welcomed to contact me to do so.
Part Two – The Palestinians
In other news that dare not share its name, this has been an extraordinary week for those who closely watch the American Jewish community’s relationships with Israel. 70 of 71 candidates supported by the liberal NGO JStreet won their elections. While the vast majority of candidates endorsed by the hardline rhetoric and dollars of Sheldon Adelson lost. Meanwhile PA President Mahmoud Abbas gave up on a personal ‘right’ of return and, speaking to Israeli TV, declared, ‘Palestine now for me is the ’67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.’ Is this an opening for peace or, with Bib Netanyahu predicted to win comfortably in the upcoming Israeli election, should we expect (and will) the perpetuation of the status quo. Last Monday saw a packed hall welcome, and challenge, security commentator Anshel Pfeffer at the excellent opening night of New London’s Israel Voices education series. This Monday, 8pm we welcome Hannah Weisfeld, founder and director of Yachad, Britain’s leading pro-Israel pro-peace NGO. I was delighted to see such interest in Israel’s relationship with the countries on the other side of the post-’67 borders. This Monday we will be looking at challenges closer to hand. All welcome.