Tag Archives: politics

Leviticus Says Nothing About Homosexuality

Torah-Inspired, Days of Awe Reflection of The Day…

Today we look at Acharei Mot, Leviticus 16:1 – 18:30 – the offerings required of Aaron, including the one for all of the sins of the Israelites on the Day of Atonement, prohibitions against hunting, and a host of laws about prohibited relationships.

After that long list comes this text, used frequently, usually by non-Jews, in current times:

Lev. 18:21 Your seed-offspring you are not to give-over for bringing-across to the Molech, that you not profane the name of your God, I am Adonai!
22 With a male you are not to lie (after the manner of) lying with a woman, it is an abomination!
23 With any animal you are not to give your emission of seed, becoming-impure through it; a woman is not to stand before an animal, mating with it, it is perversion!

Considering that verse 22, the often quoted anti-homosexual prohibition does not come in the area preceding it, about prohibited marriage relations, we can infer that the notion of two men or two women living together and building a family wasn’t seen as an option in ancient Israelite society. Furthermore, the placement of this practice in the area of religious and behavioral abominations also places it outside the norms of regular community life.

Since today we see that same-sex families are just as healthy as their heterosexual alternatives, and that supporting people in forming families is one of the main purposes of a religious society that advocates healthy partnered relationships over promiscuity, we can understand this text as prohibiting something else.

Some evidence points to this prohibiting a form of worship where the priest would dress as a woman and have sex with the worshiper. We can certainly see that such a cult of prostitution would be against the ethics of Ancient Israelite society, and would be a much more accurate fit to what this text might prohibit.

As reasonable religious people we should use our reflective time of year as an opportunity to reconcile the principles we aim to live by with how we read our texts as well. Fairness and compassion, as well as the promotion of healthy families, demand that we must be for total inclusion of the diversity of sexual and gender identities.

Temple Beth El Board of Directors Unanimously Passes Anti-Amendment One Resolution

On Monday evening, April 16, Temple Beth El’s Board of Directors unanimously passed the following resolution:

WHEREAS Temple Beth El’s mission is to be a welcoming Reform congregation providing opportunity for ALL people to engage in Jewish life through social action, and its vision emphasizes inclusion and egalitarianism;

WHEREAS Temple Beth El seeks to be a sanctuary providing support, safety, healing, and justice, for the suffering and disenfranchised;

WHEREAS the Torah commands us to give the needy what they lack, in this case legal protection, civil rights and human dignity for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender individuals, so Jewish ethics demand us to act;

WHEREAS justice and human dignity are cherished Jewish values;

WHEREAS the Torah has one text, yet the interpretation is never fixed but ever in flux;

WHEREAS our Reform Jewish tradition teaches us that all human beings — man, woman, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender — are made in the image of God; that God and holiness can be present in all loving, permanent Lesbian, Gay,  Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) and heterosexual relationships;

WHEREAS the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) stated: “All Jews are religiously equal regardless of their sexual orientation”;

WHEREAS in March 2000, the CCAR’s resolution on Same Gender Officiation states, “that the relationship of a Jewish, same gender couple is worthy of affirmation through appropriate Jewish ritual”;

WHEREAS the LGBT members of Temple Beth El are an integral part of our congregation, and that Keshet and its predecessor Chavurah Keshet have been active for over 15 years;

WHEREAS the current political climate challenges the human rights of members of our community and our nation because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and denies them legal rights;

WHEREAS Amendment #1 will appear on the North Carolina ballot on May 8, 2012, and it reads: “That marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State”; and this amendment clearly is antithetical to what Judaism and Temple Beth El stand for as outlined above;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Temple Beth El opposes Amendment #1 that will appear on the North Carolina Ballot on May 8, 2012;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the President, the Board, and the Clergy, of Temple Beth El and will go on public record, through a letter to the congregation, educating and advocating against this Amendment on May 8, 2012.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the President, the Board, and the Clergy of Temple Beth El, publically endorse Keshet’s active engagement with, and support of, other synagogues and houses of worship in North Carolina as allies in the efforts to advocate against this Amendment.