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Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:45 PM


She who dares to tackle Jewish religious law

A small number of Israeli Orthodox women are breaching the male preserve of halakhic interpretation.

By Tamar Rotem | Jan.27, 2013 | 10:09 AM'

A few weeks ago, Dr. Hannah Friedman, a lecturer in Talmudic and Jewish thought, posted an article in an Orthodox rabbinical Internet forum that deals with halakha, Jewish religious law. She argued that the attitude of the religious community toward gays and lesbians requires halakhic consideration. Even though the forum is identified as liberal, and even though Friedman took a cautious stance no more than positing a few question marks and a possible direction of how it will be possible to gloss over the sources in due time so that homosexuals can be accepted into the congregation her act was considered radical in the Orthodox religious world. She had dared to raise questions concerning the biblical ban on homosexuality.

The attitude toward religiously observant gays and lesbians is posing a challenge to religious society. One reason is that the homosexuals, some of whom are the offspring of rabbinical families, are knocking on the gates of the community and seeking admittance to it. For years, the rabbis have made do with recognizing the existence of the phenomenon and with vague comments to the effect that homosexuals should be treated more humanely. Even the activists of the rabbinical forum known as the Beit Hillel Group liberal Orthodox rabbis who work on in an egalitarian way with women, including Friedman are reluctant to issue a halakhic ruling that will undermine the stringent prohibition.

Friedman practices what she preaches. She chose to head the Yahad ‏"Together‏" congregation in Tel Aviv, which declared that it would accept alternate families of various kinds. Apart from Yahad, no other Orthodox synagogue has invited gays or lesbians to join the congregation.

“The request of the gays and lesbians to go back into the closet is actually our request,” says Friedman. “We don’t want them to confront us with this burning issue. We want them to deal with the religious issue of principle on their own. But the price, from their point of view, is simply intolerable.”


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Reply She who dares to tackle Jewish religious law (Original post)
rug Jan 2013 OP
cbayer Jan 2013 #1
rug Jan 2013 #2
cbayer Jan 2013 #3

Response to rug (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:55 PM

1. It might be in the article (not going to pay), but I really don't understand this last

paragraph at all.

When she refers to "our request", is she referring to the Orthodox community as a whole or to her congregation?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:58 PM

2. That's twice that happened.


I wonder if it's coming from clicking the link.

I bet if you copied the headline directly into Google you'd get the article without the paywall.

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Response to rug (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 07:03 PM

3. Ha! You are right. The first link I got gave me the same subscriber message,

but the second gave me the whole article.

It appears that she is talking about the Orthodox hierarchy and not her personal views.

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