Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Gay Marriage and Judaism

The issue of Orthodox Judaism and gay marriage was brought up recently when the only openly gay YU musmakh married two men the other day (see: here for the reaction from the Orthodox establishments.)

After spending a few years now studying American Jewish history, I can say that there are times when the non-Orthodox denominations are on the side of history and times when they are not. I can say that it's hard to defend a full anti-feminism in halakhah; this is one of those topics where halakhah has really seemed to mimic the cultural mores of the surrounding society.

What about gay marriage? Is this the future of American society? Maybe. But for while there are some moves by the Jewish reformers that were prescient move - e.g. introducing vernacular into the service - and some that are accepted by American society - e.g. jettisoning Sabbath observance and Kashrut - there are others that show a too slavish attachment to trends.

The best example is the attempt to move the Jewish sabbath to Sundays. Another was the virulent anti-Zionism of the 19th and early 20th Century Reform movement. The latter is actually coming back into vogue - and for the same reasons as a century ago: the rejection of Jewish choseness and nationality, coupled with a dire attachment to a Diaspora identity.

The Sunday thing? Maybe that will come back as well.