In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 21, 2006 / 25 Sivan, 5766


By Rabbi Avi Shafran

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Memo to world: Please don't confuse opinions by Jews with Judaism's opinion — even if expressed by those with the title "rabbi" | Among those opposing the — shelved for now but sure to return — constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman is an interfaith umbrella organization.

"Clergy for Fairness" includes an assortment of groups, some affiliated with various Christian denominations, others with the Sikh religion and others still with the Jewish world's Reform, Reconstructionist and Humanistic movements. It asserts that the proposed "Marriage Protection Amendment" would "infringe on religious liberty."

Unexplained is how religious liberty managed to persevere for the first 230 years of the Republic, or, for that matter, how people thought themselves free since the dawn of creation, when the right to same-sex marriage went unrecognized, indeed unimagined.

More mystifying still, though, were the words of one member of the group, Reform Rabbi Craig Axler. He told The New York Times that, with the proposed amendment in the sphere of public discussion, "to remain silent as a Jew is unconscionable."

Indeed it is. Although not the way he imagines.

Which is probably that Jews, as a people perennially persecuted, should empathize with others who are marginalized, even marginally, by society. But, whether or not such empathy is appropriate, the inability to claim marital status for a relationship that has been rejected by civilized cultures throughout history, is hardly akin to being confined to a ghetto or condemned to a concentration camp. And, in any event and more to the point, the defining aspect of the Jew is not victimhood, but Judaism.

Thus, what the rabbi should instead find unconscionable "as a Jew" is misrepresentation of the Jewish religious tradition. What should impel him to break his silence are Jewish truths.

He might start with the book of Leviticus, where sexual relations between men is referred to as "to'eiva", not inaccurately translated as "an abomination."

The Jewish Oral Tradition is replete with similar sentiment. Homosexual acts are associated by the Midrash with the Canaanite peoples whose behavior defiled the Holy Land; and the rabbis of the Talmudic era taught that the formal sanctioning of homosexual unions was one of the causes of the biblical Flood. Trenchantly, a statement in the Talmud asserts that one of human society's redeeming qualities has been its refusal to "write marriage documents for males" — its maintenance, in other words, of marriage's definition as the union of a man and a woman.

The Torah does not command hatred of homosexuals. It does not label as inherently evil people who engage in homosexual activity, and certainly not those with homosexual tendencies. Such people do not forfeit either their humanity or, if Jewish, their membership in the Jewish people; nor are they unworthy of others' care and compassion.

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But Judaism, in no uncertain terms, forbids homosexual acts; and, in equally certain terms, sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony. Anyone seeking to address the issue "as a Jew" should be proclaiming those facts, not fudging them.

Rabbi Axler, as it happens, was taking his cue from his movement. The president of the Reform Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi David Ellenson, contended in The New York Jewish Week that not only does homosexual activity not violate the letter and spirit of the Torah, but embracing its propriety is a Jewish religious imperative.

"A tradition that demands 'You shall do that which is upright and good'," he explained, "can surely be construed in such a way that the ethos of Jewish tradition can be said to trump a single statement in Leviticus…"

But — as a Jew — Rabbi Ellenson needs to face the fact that the Torah indeed contains both verses, and should realize that the latter contradicts the former no more than does any of the Torah's laws that prohibit certain other sexual relationships. The definition of "upright and good" is not whatever a particular society or era embraces but rather, and precisely, to heed what God commands us to do, and to not do. That, in fact, is the very essence of the Jewish faith: to follow the divine, not our own lights.

When contemporary Jewish movements define Judaism down for their followers, that is objectionable enough. But when they seek to swathe political correctness in Jewish garb, it does violence to the integrity of all Jews' religious heritage. Whether the issue is "reproductive freedom" or assisted suicide or the redefinition of marriage, responding "as a Jew" must mean something more than just responding.

Abraham, Jewish tradition explains, was called the "Ivri" — the "other sider" — because "the entire world was on one side" of a conceptual river, and he "on the other." Nothing is more fundamentally Jewish than to willfully stand apart from an unbridled world and affirm timeless truths.

That is what one does, as a Jew.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America. Comment by clicking here.

© 2006, Am Echad Resources