To read overviews of each major Jewish movements’ opinion on LGBT issues, including homosexuality in general, same-sex marriage, ordination of LGBT individuals, and HIV/AIDS, please follow the links below.
The Conservative Movement, known as Masorti Judaism outside of the United States, developed formally in the early 1900s in the United States, as an outgrowth of a 19th century German response to the growth of Reform Judaism. Conservative Judaism attempts to maintain a commitment to Jewish law and Jewish traditions while also maintaining a positive attitude towards modern culture. Consequently, the Conservative Movement is highly diverse, with those who identify as Conservative Jews ranging from very socially liberal to “Conservadox.” Conservative Jews make up the second largest group of affiliated Jews in the United States, after the Reform Movement.
Click Here to read about the Conservative Movement and LGBT issues.
Orthodox, or traditional, Judaism is characterized by strict adherence to halacha, or Jewish law. Orthodox Jews believe that the Torah and the core rabbinic texts (Midrash, Talmud, etc.) are the word of God, and consequently, are unalterable. Orthodox Jews accept the obligation of the 613 mitzvot, which were codified by the Rabbis. They also strive to live in accordance with traditional Jewish law. However, there is tremendous variation within Orthodox Jewish communities. Orthodox Jews include the members of a broad range of Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) sects, as well as Modern Orthodox Jews who interact with and participate fully in modern society.
Information about Orthodox Judaism and LGBT issues coming soon!
Reconstructionist Judaism was founded by Rabbis Mordecai Kaplan and Ira Eisenstein from the late 1920s to the 1940s. Developed as a response to the Conservative Movement, Reconstructionist Judaism is the only uniquely American Jewish denomination. The Reconstructionist Movement encourages traditional Jewish practices, but considers Judaism to be an evolving religious civilization and holds that modern Western secular morality can take precedence over Jewish law. Reconstructionist Judaism is a highly egalitarian movement, and was formed partially in response to the gender divisions of Conservative Judaism during the early 20th century.
Click Here to read about the Reconstructionist Movement and LGBT issues.
Reform Judaism, often called Progressive Judaism outside of the United States, was founded in Germany during the early 1800s and came to the United States with the wave of German immigrants in the mid-1800s. The movement today is the largest in the United States and is characterized by a strong emphasis on tikkun olam (“repairing the world”), individual autonomy in the interpretation of Torah and halacha (or Jewish law), a limited use of Hebrew in prayer services (although this has been changing in recent years), and gender equality in all facets of Jewish communal life.
Click Here to read about the Reform Movement and LGBT issues.
Renewal Judaism, with roots in the counterculture of late 1960s and early 1970s, is not officially a separate denomination or movement, but rather a loosely-organized coalition of like-minded Jews centered around ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal and several affiliated institutions. ALEPH is an outgrowth of an earlier lay-led effort founded by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, or “Reb Zalman,” a former Lubavitch rabbi who broke away from his Ultra-Orthodox background in the 1960s (other key figures in the development of Jewish Renewal include Rabbis Arthur Waskow and Shlomo Carlebach, z’l). Jewish Renewal attempts to reinvigorate Judaism through the use of mystical, Hasidic, musical and meditative practices drawn from various spiritual backgrounds. Renewal Judaism uses a highly egalitarian framework and incorporates liberal social trends, such as feminism, environmentalism and pacifism.
Click Here to read about Renewal Judaism and LGBT issues.