by Leander Milbrecht
Binyamin “Benny” Lau (59), a prominent Orthodox rabbi from Israel published a statement in support of same-sex couples. The title is: “It is not good for man to be alone: Relationships and family for the sons and daughters of the LGBT community”. In it he emphasises: “Jewish law does not prohibit members of the community from raising children and starting a family.”
Lau belongs to the Religious Zionist Movement of Israel. This is an ideology that links Zionism and Orthodox Judaism. In recent years, the community has had to struggle with the tension between the prohibition of homosexual relationships in the Torah and the increasing acceptance of LGBTQ+ in the secular world.
The rabbi emphasises that his writing is not about rules set in stone, but rather an attempt to establish guidelines for the acceptance of queer people within Judaism and to pave the way for a possible life. He also published the guidelines in Hebrew on Facebook.
Lau found clear words for conversion procedures: He said that the attempt to “correct” a person’s sexual orientation would cause psychological damage that could be devastating and deadly. Likewise, he said, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to instruct a person in the context of spiritual or mental guidance to abstain completely from sexual activity. And homosexuals should not feel pressured to enter a heterosexual marriage, Lau said.
Marriage and family: the right of every person
“The desire to inform the world that we have chosen to live in a marital partnership is an understandable one”
While acknowledging that no “acceptable solution” has yet been found in the Jewish Orthodox world with regard to same-sex marriage, he suggested that same-sex couples should perform bonding ceremonies that do not attempt to imitate a classical Jewish wedding. He expressed the hope that this would make it easier for the lovers’ religious families to participate.
With regard to starting a family, Lau made it clear
“The desire of every human being to bring life into the world is a deep and innate nature. No one can or should suppress this inner desire”.
Care must be taken to ensure that the world does not violate the dignity of the children of same-sex couples. Queer families had not sinned and the children were no different from other children, said the rabbi. He demands: “Families must be fully accepted in their religious communities.”
Reformer of the faith
Is something happening in the world of religion? This week, Pope Francis announced with a bang that same-sex couples must be allowed to enter into a registered partnership – as this would give them legal protection.
Both Pope Francis and Benny Lau have a reputation as reformers – which in the world of faith means that they have in the past turned arch-conservatives against themselves. According to The Times of Israel, Lau has often received strong backlashes for his cosmopolitan and progressive approach to various issues, especially his acceptance of the queer community.
Lau is the nephew of the former Israeli Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and the cousin of David Lau, the current Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel. His brother Amichai Lau-Lavie is an openly gay rabbi who lives in New York.
- bennylau2: By: Benny Lau / Facebook
- Benny-Lau: By: Benny Lau / Facebook
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