Orthodox Judaism is fully aware of the painful challenges faced by those who are convinced that they are born homosexuals. Some Orthodox rabbinic leaders, including this writer, concede that there may be a genetic basis to some homosexual proclivities. But these facts do not justify homosexual behavior or sanction homosexual relationships. We believe that homosexual urges, like all other sinful passions, must be and can be controlled.

In recent years, we have become more sensitive to the plight of individuals who struggle with the homosexual condition and yet wish to remain loyal to the Orthodox Jewish faith. We recognize that they have met with the opprobrium of the community, often very early in life, and frequently without having ever violated any religious prohibitions. They have not received the latitude and acceptance offered to others in the community whose behaviors are inconsistent with Orthodox Jewish standards. We recognize their feelings of rejections and alienation, and admit that we must discriminate between the person and his or her behaviors, a discrimination which is urged upon us by our tradition.

But we feel strongly that we cannot condone homosexual practice in any official way if we claim fidelity to authentic Judaism. We certainly cannot assent to the current trend of idealizing homosexual liaisons and declaring them not only legitimate, but of great positive value.

We certainly will not acquiesce to the political pressures which the homosexual community has been placing upon the freedom of speech guaranteed to us, opponents of their value system. In our democratic society, we have every right to express our own views, however reactionary they may seem, and to promulgate a society in which only a man and a woman can join in a ceremony of marriage, and that only they are seen as the rightful initiators of that most sublime of all earthly projects: the human family.


GreenbergIn Response (by Rabbi Steven Greenberg): Rabbi Hershel Weinreb's [article on] same-sex marriage (see above) is deeply confounding on two accounts. The first is that his position makes no distinction between religious and civil marriage and the second is because it calls for empathy while offering nothing of the sort. The first confusion is a problem in America regarding the meaning of marriage that ought to be cleared up. The second, however, is a state of affairs that just might be a sign that things are changing. Read More | Read Greenberg's article


Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb was the executive vice president of the Orthodox Union from January 2002 through April 2009, where he represented and served Orthodox Jewry through hundreds of synagogues across North America and beyond. Rabbi Weinreb received his rabbinic ordination in 1962 from the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva in New York. He received his Masters degree in Psychology from the New School for Social Research, and in 1970 earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. He has received awards from numerous Jewish institutions, and he was recognized for his religious public service with a medal presented to him by Pope Benedict XVI. He is also the rabbinic liaison for NEFESH: the North American Network of Orthodox Mental Heath Professionals, and is a member of the Ethics Committee of the Veterans Administration Hospitals. Rabbi Weinreb married Chavi Taub in 1965, and they live on the West Side of Manhattan. They have three children and ten grandchildren.