Reform shies away from homosexual rabbis, study reveals

In contrast to its liberal image, Reform Judaism has not been blindly accepting of homo-lesbian congregants and rabbis.

December 23, 2007 22:24
1 minute read.


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Although as a whole, members of the Reform Movement do not see themselves obligated to adhere to Halacha, they nevertheless use religious directives as a means of excluding overtly homosexual rabbis, according to new research to be presented Monday at a conference on the Reform Movement. In contrast to its liberal image, Reform Judaism has not been blindly accepting of homo-lesbian congregants and rabbis, according to a paper by Dr. Yakir Englander of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Hartman Institute. Englander will present his work during a two-day conference at Jerusalem's Van Leer Institute, which is hosting leading scholars of Judaism from Israel and abroad. The Reform Movement is not willing to accept homosexuals who are too "out," Englander found after examining Reform rabbinic literature. The movement's leaders and rabbinic authorities prefer that homosexual rabbis play down their sexual preferences, he wrote. Those who behave outwardly like heterosexuals have more of a chance of succeeding within the movement, according to Englander's research. In another research paper to be presented at Van Leer, Dr. Aviad Hacohen, rector of the Sha'arei Mishpat Law College, found that the Israeli Reform Movement failed in most of its legal battles in the Supreme Court. Instead of putting more emphasis on building communities and less on legal battles, the Reform Movement in Israel has tried to improve its status vis-à-vis the Orthodox establishment by appealing to equality before the law. Hacohen argued that only did the Reform Movement fail to make major headway, it also hurt its own image. About 90% of its Supreme Court petitions were rejected, thus reaffirming the Orthodox monopoly. In addition, the lost battles in the Supreme Court presented the movement as rootless in Israeli society. The movement appeared pathetic in its failed attempts to win the Supreme Court's sympathies, Hacohen wrote.

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