Rabbis must learn to be more tolerant of LGBT communities

Rabbis must learn to be more tolerant of LGBT communities September 8, 2017

Following the near sacking this summer of gay-friendly Rabbi Joseph Dweck, above, British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis this week called on a meeting of more than 100 Orthodox rabbis to be more inclusive toward the LGBT+ community.
According to this report, on Tuesday – at his annual pre-High Holidays conference for the rabbinate – Mirvis also called for extra concern for other special groups too.
At the annual conference, this year titled “Every One Counts”, he declared:

Every person is precious. Single parents, women, the unaffiliated, LGBT Jews – let no person feel they have no place in our shuls.

Dweck, Britain’s top Sephardi rabbi, almost lost his job this summer following his comments welcoming the growing acceptance of homosexuality.

But following the ruling of a review process set up by Mirvis, above, in the wake of his comments welcoming the growing acceptance of homosexuality, Dweck, who serves as senior rabbi at London’s S&P Sephardi community, was allowed to stay.
He came under fire after saying at a lecture that societal acceptance of homosexuality is a “fantastic development” because it opens the door to a more loving society.
Following an outcry from many of his colleagues, as well as a request from the Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, Yitzchak Yosef, Mirvis set up a committee to review Dweck’s statement as well as other teachings and Jewish legal rulings by the rabbi.
In the wake of the ruling, which noted the rabbi’s success in outreach to British Jews, Dweck apologised for speaking in a manner that was “inappropriate and imprudent”, and said he regretted having made disparaging remarks about rabbinic colleagues.
The review committee approved Dweck’s suggestion that his public lectures, particularly on issues of Jewish law, be reviewed with a member of the committee prior to delivery. The committee also recommended that Dweck’s withdrawal as a dayan, or judge, on the Sephardi Beth Din, or rabbinical court, remain in effect.
In a 90-minute lecture at the Ner Yisrael synagogue in Hendon, England, Dweck emphasised that homosexual acts are forbidden by Torah, but that the growing tolerance for feminism and homosexuality had residual benefits for society at large.

[W]e have to see ultimately how it is we deal with it in terms of Torah and society. If we do not hang our prejudices at the door when we deal with it, and don’t look at Torah as it is and what it is saying to us, and stop with the insane bigotry and prejudice we’ve got, we will be on the out and society will move forward because [God] doesn’t wait for anybody. He is taking His world into love.

Referring in  part to the Dweck affair Mirvis said:

During the past two or so months I have been appalled by some of the conduct we have witnessed in our community. Orthodoxy has long known significant differences in outlook, but the recent controversy about Rabbi Joseph Dweck’s teachings has brought the polarisation of Orthodox Jewry into sharpest focus.
People are affirming what they stand for by denigrating and insulting those whom they stand against. We have come to define ourselves by that which divides us, rather than that which unites us.

At the end of this week’s conference, he said:

As rabbis, we have now a responsibility to carry the inspiration we have taken from the last two days and use it build ever more engaging and inclusive communities, which would be inclusive of every person.

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  • T

    This represents the tiniest bit of improvement. But lurking close behind are battalions of totally brainwashed fanatical hard faced unbending jewry who know with absolute certainty that they are right to adhere rigidly to the Torah. And they are as adamant as they are wrong. But nothing will convince them they are wrong and nothing, NOTHING, is going to change anytime soon.
    And I am not just picking on jews. All the abrahamic religions breed fundamentalist hardliners the worst of course being islam that instructs adherents to commit martyrdom, jihad and the annihilation of the kuffar … wherever they be found.

  • L.Long

    I don’t give a shit what some preacher says! The foundation of the religions are their book o’BS as long as they are the bases of their morality I will never trust a religious person in a group of 2 or more, they are capable of anything once they re-enforce the BS their gawd says!

  • Broga

    How very kind of him. But, really, who cares what the hardliners think?

  • Johan

    You should care what hardliners think, and care even more about what they coerce their followers to do such as tossing gays from high places, such as exercising political influence to outlaw the interests of minorities and hundreds of other nasty things they have set their faces to. Got it?

  • Broga

    Johan: So, give me a clue. What do you suggest I do?

  • Stephen Mynett

    Broga, I think you may be wasting your time with a semi-literate troll. Like you I do not care what some religionists think, although I do care about what they do, the two are quite different but you know that as well as I do. I suspect Johan was just in need of a rant.

  • Broga

    Stephen Mynett : Just on your well made point: any time an attempt is made to influence me towards religion I dispute it; I write to my MP when appropriate e.g. about FGM; I sent my religious relative a copy of “The God Delusion” (waste of time and money); and I have written to the BBC about Thought for the Day.
    And, of course, with others I contribute here and I think the vigour and life of this site and the NSS generally is important and should be supported.
    All no doubt minimal enough but they seem to me to be worthwhile.

  • Stephen Mynett

    Broga, minimal it is in in some respects but often it is as much as we can do, miracle solutions only exist in the the minds of the deluded we are up against.
    This has been said my many people but my gran was the first person I heard it from when I was quite young: “If you do nothing you get nowhere, if you try you at least create a chance no matter how small that chance is it is still a chance.” It is a bit of advice that has kept me going on many occasions, especially when the odds seem insurmountable.

  • Michael

    Meanwhile another nut Job has given permission for his followers to save there lives http://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/top-charedi-rabbi-jews-may-travel-on-shabbat-to-escape-hurricane-irma/

  • Robster

    Now that’s a word! “rabbinate “, I can’t help but get a mental image of a bunch of silly men wearing weird hats in a hole looking for the easter Bunny.

  • Broga

    Stephen Mynett : Grans are often the real deal on advice. One comment I came across which I have never forgotten over the years is, “The only failure is to give up trying.”

  • barriejohn

    Robster: Maybe they’re called the rabbinate because they rabbit on so much. (This may be lost on American visitors to the site!)

  • barriejohn

    Broga: I’ve spoken about my maternal grandmother, who was a real wit, before. Like most working class people, she’d had a very hard life, bringing up eight children during Depression and War years, but my friend very nearly died laughing when, in answer to his remark that he had a lot on his plate, she said: “Hard work never hurt anyone, that’s what I say”, muttering almost under her breath, “Makes you bloody tired sometimes”!