Over 100 Orthodox Rabbis From 4 Countries Reaffirm Judaism’s View That Marriage Is A Sacred Bond Between A Man And A Woman

(Monday, December 5th, 2011)

With the approach of the Chanukah season, marking the Maccabees’ valiant efforts to defend Jewish values and time-honored practices, a group of over 100 American-trained Orthodox Rabbis issued a statement this week reaffirming traditional Jewish views of marriage. The group of Orthodox rabbis represents a spectrum within the community, spanning nineteen states in the United States and three other countries, and the signatories include several prominent Orthodox rabbinic scholars, synagogue rabbis, organizational rabbis, and other Orthodox rabbinic thinkers in the United States and Israel.

In their statement, the rabbis clarified that “Jewish tradition unequivocally teaches that marriage can only exist as a union between a man and a woman, to the exclusion of a homosexual relationship. It is a distortion of Torah to confound that sacred principle.” Expressing disapproval of recent media reports that have suggested possible movement towards a change in the position of Orthodox Judaism on the subject of gay marriage, the rabbis emphasized: “The public should not be misled into thinking that Orthodox Jewish views on this issue can change, are changing, or might someday change. The Rabbinical Council of America recently declared that ‘the Torah, which forbids homosexual activity, sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony.’ This is the only statement on this matter that can reflect Orthodox Judaism. Any claims or statements to the contrary are inaccurate and false.”

In their letter, the Orthodox rabbis reaffirmed Orthodox Judaism’s recognition of the inherent conflicts sustained by some who seek to live an authentically Orthodox Torah life while confronting personal challenges that threaten to compromise their abilities to live conforming to Torah values.

Expressing compassion and emphasizing the traditional role of pastoral care played by Orthodox rabbis as accessible life counselors, the rabbis added: “Rabbis are always available to discuss congregants’ personal issues, including intimacy. We understand from our experiences in offering pastoral care that some individuals experience deep inner conflict as they seek a holy path to serve G-d and to fulfill their spiritual needs. As rabbis, we devote our lives towards helping all those in our broader community achieve their loftiest spiritual potential, while fully upholding the timeless values expressed in our Holy Torah.” Nevertheless, the rabbis made clear that “By definition, a union that is not sanctioned by Torah law is not an Orthodox wedding, and by definition a person who conducts such a ceremony is not an Orthodox rabbi.”

The following is the Rabbis’ official statement: Orthodox Rabbis Stand On Principle.

Recently, an American Jewish clergyman officiated at a matrimonial ceremony that is incorrectly being reported by some in the media as “the first time that an ordained Orthodox Rabbi has officiated at a same-sex marriage in the United States.”

We, as rabbis from a broad spectrum of the Orthodox community around the world, wish to correct the false impression that an Orthodox-approved same-gender wedding took place. By definition, a union that is not sanctioned by Torah law is not an Orthodox wedding, and by definition a person who conducts such a ceremony is not an Orthodox rabbi.

Jewish tradition unequivocally teaches that marriage can only exist as a union between a man and a woman, to the exclusion of a homosexual relationship. It is a distortion of Torah to confound that sacred principle. We strongly object to this desecration of Torah values and to the subsequent misleading reportage.

We appreciate the sensitive nature of intimacy. We, as rabbis, lovingly play a crucial role in helping Jews who may be facing great personal challenges to feel comfortable and welcome in our communities. Rabbis are always available to discuss congregants’ personal issues, including intimacy. We understand from our experiences in offering pastoral care that some individuals experience deep inner conflict as they seek a holy path to serve G-d and to fulfill their spiritual needs. As rabbis, we devote our lives towards helping all those in our broader community achieve their loftiest spiritual potential, while fully upholding the timeless values expressed in our Holy Torah.

The public should not be misled into thinking that Orthodox Jewish views on this issue can change, are changing, or might someday change. The Rabbinical Council of America recently declared that “the Torah, which forbids homosexual activity, sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony.” This is the only statement on this matter that can reflect Orthodox Judaism. Any claims or statements to the contrary are inaccurate and false.

SIGNED:
Rabbi Elie Abadie – New York, NY
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein – Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Eitan Allen – Fairfield, CT
Rabbi Sol Appleman – Woodsburgh, NY
Rabbi Moshe Averick – Chicago, IL
Rabbi Ian Bailey – Silver Spring, MD
Rabbi Yisroel Bendelstein – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Etan Berman – New York, NY
Rabbi Azriel Blumberg – Brighton, MA
Rabbi Heshy Blumstein – Hewlett, NY
Rabbi Avram Bogopulsky – San Diego, CA
Rabbi Kenneth Brodkin – Portland, OR
Rabbi Zev Cinamon – West Hempstead, NY
Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen – West Palm Beach, FL
Rabbi Judah Z. Cohen – Hewlett, NY
Rabbi Yitzchok Cohen, New York, NY
Rabbi Mordechai Cohen – Milwaukee, WI
Rabbi Yosef Cohen – West Hartford, CT
Rabbi Nissim Davidi – Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz – Valley Village, CA
Rabbi Ari Enkin – Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel
Rabbi Ephraim Epstein – Cherry Hill, NJ
Rabbi Aaron Feigenbaum – Memphis, TN
Rabbi Dovid Feinberg – Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman – Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Ilan Feldman – Atlanta, GA
Rabbi Eliyahu Ferrell – Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Yitzchok Fingerer – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Shmuel Fink – Lawrence, NY
Rabbi Dov Fischer – Orange County, CA
Rabbi Arie Folger – Munich, Germany
Rabbi Barry Freundel – Washington, DC
Rabbi Zvi Friedlander – New York, NY
Rabbi Cary Friedman – Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Zev Friedman – Lawrence, NY
Rabbi Mallen Galinsky – Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Benjamin Geiger – Forest Hills, NY
Rabbi Avraham Ginzburg – Forest Hills, NY
Rabbi Saul Gold – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Jay H. Goldberg – Far Rockaway, NY
Rabbi Chaim Goldberger – Minneapolis, MN
Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer – New York, NY
Rabbi Shlomo Grafstein – New York, NY
Rabbi Alan Greenspan – Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Yonah Gross – Wynnewood, PA
Rabbi Yosef Grossman – Monsey, NY
Rabbi Ben Hecht – Toronto, Canada
Rabbi Ari Jacobson – Monsey, NY
Rabbi Ari Kahn – Givat Ze’ev, Israel
Rabbi Howard Katzenstein – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Joseph Kolakowski – Richmond, VA
Rabbi Ira Kronenberg – Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Pinchas L. Landis – Cincinnati, OH
Rabbi Eliezer Langer – Austin, TX
Rabbi Levi Langer – Pittsburgh, PA
Rabbi Avi Lebowitz – Palo Alto, CA
Rabbi Yonah Levant – Queens, NY
Rabbi Menachem Levine – San Jose, CA
Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz – Chicago, IL
Rabbi Yaakov Luban – Highland Park, NJ
Rabbi Avraham Maimon – Sunnyvale, CA
Rabbi Reuven Mann – Phoenix, AZ
Rabbi Harry Maryles – Chicago, IL
Rabbi Baruch Pesach Mendelson – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Jacob B. Mendelson – Bridgeport, CT
Rabbi Yossi Mendelson – Queens, NY
Rabbi Lester Miller – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Yerachmiel Morrison – Lakewood, NJ
Rabbi Jonathan Muskat – Oceanside, NY
Rabbi Yehuda L. Oppenheimer – Forest Hills, NY
Rabbi Gavriel Price – Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky – Teaneck, NJ
Rabbi Aharon Rakeffet – Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Michael Rapps – Far Rockaway, NY
Rabbi Hershel Reichman – New York, NY
Rabbi Rachmiel Rothberger – New York, NY
Rabbi Gidon Rothstein – Riverdale, NY
Rabbi Lawrence Rothwachs – Teaneck, NJ
Rabbi Yackov Saacks – Dix Hills, NY
Rabbi Nosson Sachs – Pittsburgh, PA
Rabbi Nachum Sauer – Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Hershel Schachter – New York, NY
Rabbi Moshe Schapiro – Bergenfield, NJ
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld – Queens, NY
Rabbi Zev Schostak – Queens, NY
Rabbi Tsvi G. Schur – Baltimore, MD
Rabbi David Shabtai – New York, NY
Rabbi Dov Shapiro – Spring Valley, NY
Rabbi Jay C. Shoulson – Long Island City, NY
Rabbi Zecharia Sionit – Dallas, TX
Rabbi Ze’ev Smason – St. Louis, MO
Rabbi Aryeh Sokoloff – Queens, NY
Rabbi Aryeh Spero – Great Neck, NY
Rabbi Reuven Spolter -Yad Binyamin, Israel
Rabbi Leonard Steinberg – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Gil Student – Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Michael Taubes – Teaneck, NJ
Rabbi Moses David Tendler – Monsey, NY
Rabbi Benzion Twerski – Milwaukee, WI
Rabbi Michel Twerski – Milwaukee, WI
Rabbi Avrohom Union – Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Noach Vogel – San Jose, CA
Rabbi Gedalia Walls – Potomac, MD
Rabbi Yaakov Wasser – East Brunswick, NJ
Rabbi Philip Weinberger – Teaneck, NJ
Rabbi Matan Wexler – New York, NY
Rabbi Ari Zahtz – Teaneck, NJ
Rabbi Asher Zeilingold – St. Paul, MN
Rabbi Aharon Ziegler – Jerusalem, Israel

(YWN Desk – NYC)


6 Comments

  1. Give Me a Break II says:

    The Rabbinical Council of America recently declared that “the Torah, which forbids homosexual activity, sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony.”

    Actually, the Torah allows for polygyny.

    Barry Freundel is Joe Lieberman’s rabbi. Maybe he oughtta have a talk with the Senator.

  2. akuperma says:

    This is a hiddush????????????

  3. vayeitzei says:

    Akuperma: exactly my thought.

  4. HaKatan says:

    “Give Me a Break II”, the Torah commands us to listen to our Torah sages. Rabbeinu Gershom forbade polygyny. Ergo, the Torah does NOT allow for plygyny.

    As well, each individual union can only be between one man and woman, as they precisely stated; whether or not more than one union can co-exist (polygyny) is a different matter.

    Besides, as you are surely aware, their context was heterosexual vs. homosexual, not one woman versus multiple women.

  5. Yserbius123 says:

    I don’t understand why this is necessary. In my opinion, this has zero influence on secular or Yiddishe politics and all it does is make civil rights groups less likely to work with the frum oilem. Unless there is a Constitutional amendment requiring Shulchan Aruch to be followed by both Yiddin and Goyim, Rabbonim should keep away from things like this. You don’t see Rabbonim signing on documents re-affirming that Jews don’t worship Ashera.

  6. ANONYM613 says:

    It’s good that the Rabbis issued this statement.

    There is definitely a need for this statement, if C”V there is ANY misconception that C”V an Orthodox Rabbi would conduct a same-gender wedding, and to clarify that the Torah prohibits the practice of homosexuality and same-gender marriage.

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