Voices from Russia

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Gay People Should Feel At “Home” In Orthodox Synagogues, Says New Chief Rabbi

00 Rav Ephraim Mirvis. 30.08.13


Editor’s Foreword:

By the way, the moral theology of Orthodox Judaism (especially, Modern Orthodox Judaism) and Orthodox Christianity are very similar. Of course, since “our Lord Christ lived and died a believing Jew” (as a Greek country pappas put it in World War II) that isn’t surprising. The positions on homosexuality, same-sex marriage, female ordination, and gender roles expressed below are IDENTICAL to those of the Church. Ponder that.



Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who’ll be inducted formally as successor to Lord Sacks as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth at a ceremony on Sunday, also welcomed moves to give women a greater role, but ruled out allowing them to become rabbis. He said that he wanted to “strive for equality” but not “uniformity” in his role as the most senior Orthodox rabbi in the Commonwealth. On Sunday, the Prince of Wales will take his place among more than 1,000 guests at St John’s Wood Synagogue in North London as Rav Mirvis is installed as the most senior figure in the United Synagogue, the largest Jewish religious  body in the UK. He will be only the 11th holder of the office in more than 300 years… a period which has seen well over 50 Prime Ministers come and go.

Rabbis in the Liberal and Reform movements are amongst those at the forefront of the campaign for same-sex marriage. However, Rav Mirvis signalled that the United Synagogue would retain its traditionalist stance and opt out, in common with most Christian churches and all mosques, when gay marriage becomes law next year, saying, “We have a clear Biblical definition of marriage which is the union of one man and one woman, and through that, we value traditional family life, but I’d like to reiterate our genuine sentiment to every single Jewish man and woman… you have a home in our synagogue and we’ll make you feel comfortable regardless of who you are”. Asked, during a BBC interview, whether he was “out of step with modern society”, he said, “Equality is what we strive for, but when we talk about equality it isn’t uniformity. When we talk, for example, of men and women and the opportunity within synagogues and within community life, there are clear roles that different people can play and in that way each of us can achieve his or her own amazing potential”.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, a prominent figure in the liberal-leaning Reform movement, urged Rav Mirvis to break with tradition and abandon the title of Chief Rabbi as a symbol of reconciliation with the growing Progressive congregations. Now, Progressive synagogues account for around a third of all Jewish congregations in mainland Britain, but Rav Mirvis has already declined to break with tradition and visit one… although he insisted he wanted to work closely with non-Orthodox rabbis. Rav Romain said, “The Jonathan Sacks years were marked not only by his prominent contribution to wider society, but also by much internal division and controversy. Hope of rapprochement have already been dashed in advance by Rabbi Mirvis stating that he won’t enter a non-Orthodox synagogue. The refusal to even step inside a Reform synagogue makes it clear that he’s in no position to represent all British Jews. Rabbi Mirvis should, therefore, abandon the title of Chief Rabbi… once appropriate, but no longer so… and adopt a more accurate title, such as Senior Orthodox Rabbi”.

30 August 2013

John Bingham

The Telegraph


Editor’s Afterword:

Firstly, the Church condemns anti-Semitism in no uncertain terms; it’s position on that is that of St Ioann Kronshtadtsky, not that of the Black Hundreds. We understand (and value) our spiritual descent from the People of the Old Covenant. Secondly, the Church doesn’t excommunicate or shun homosexuals. It takes the Middle Path, as St John Chrysostom put it. It rejects same-sex marriage, but it opens its hands to homosexuals. Fr Vsevolod Chaplin (no Renovationist or “liberal” he) has written that he’s heard the confessions of homosexuals. Yes, homosexuality is a sin, but it’s NOT the worst sin. Konvertsy err when they think that we ape the sectarian “Evangelicals“. We don’t… the Church’s nuanced position satisfies neither the Extreme Right or the Extreme Left. As I wrote in the Foreword, the Church’s position and that of Orthodox Judaism on morals are very close, indeed. Reflect on this… Our Lord Christ “disappointed” many whilst He was alive, so, does it surprise you that the same is true of the Church that He founded? That’s a worthy meditation…



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