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Rabbi’s Gay-Lesbian Marriage Project Questioned

Rabbi’s Gay-Lesbian Marriage Project Questioned

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Three senior rabbis in Israel have withdrawn their support for an Orthodox rabbi's project of arranging marriages of gay men to lesbians, at least until "the religious and ethical aspects of the issue are clarified," website Ynetreports.

Rabbis Yaakov Ariel (pictured), Haim Drukman, and Elyakim Levanon all expressed reservations about the work of West Bank-based Rabbi Areleh Harel, believing that he moved too quickly with the initiative, and they have demanded that their names be removed from an online list of supporters of the effort.

Harel says he has been quietly making matches for several years between gay men and lesbians who wish to marry and live a heterosexual life, but publicity about his work last spring led him to plan an online matchmaking service, which he expects to be operational by the end of the year, and hire several staffers. Lack of support from these three rabbis, especially Ariel and Drukman, who are the most senior, would be "a heavy blow" to the effort, Ynet reports.

Ariel, Drukman, and Levanon, who are all affiliated with the Religious Zionist movement -- a subset of Orthodox Judaism -- favor counseling designed to help gays and lesbians become straight, according to Ynet. Such "reparative therapy" is widely discredited by mental health professionals but still endorsed by some religious groups, both Christian and Jewish. While Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Judaism embrace gay equality, Orthodoxy does not.

Harel told Ynet the three rabbis had been involved with his project for some time but became concerned when the publicity started. "Throughout the years that the matchmaking initiative has been conducted, the above-mentioned rabbis have been escorting the idea with their advice and resourcefulness," he said. "Now, after it has been made public, they have expressed reservations over its public aspect, as well as additional questions relating to a small number of the couples. These reservations were presented to me in talks I had with the rabbis, and therefore we stopped publishing their names as supporters of the initiative until the issue is clarified. Apart from the abovementioned rabbis, there are others who support this initiative and their names will be published soon."

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.