Australian Masorti rabbi Adam Stein speaks out against Dr Miriam Grossman

Jun 30, 2012

I applaud Rabbi Adam Stein of the Melbourne Conservative/Masorti Synagogue Kehilat Nitzan for taking this responsible and appropriate stance in relation to a communication about tomorrow’s talk at Glen Eira College by Dr Miriam Grossman.


From: […]@kehilatnitzan.org.au
Sent: Thursday, 28 June 2012 12:24 PM
To: […]
Subject: News sheet follow up regarding Sex Education Event

Dear Kehilat Nitzan members,

I wish to apologise for sending out a notice about an event called “Sex Education – Protecting Our Children’s Well-Being.” The shule was sent an email asking us to promote the event (as was every shule in the community, it seems), and I should have read the announcement more carefully. If I had, I would have noticed that the sponsor is the Australian Family Association, which is devoted to denying marriage and even civil union rights to loving gay and lesbian couples. I would have noticed that, contrary to what the title might imply, Miriam Grossman seems to be a crusader against sex education in schools. After a couple of hours of research late last night, I found her to be in agreement with the chair of the program, Shimon Cowen, who calls homosexuality “an abnormality, which as far as possible should be treated.” It seems this program may be part of Dr. Cowen’s recent anti-gay screeds found in the past few months throughout many issues of the Australian Jewish News and even the MX paper found at train stations, attacking the Safe School Coalition Victoria for its approach to preventing bullying and sex education, at least in part because they teach that being gay is OK. In Dr Cowen’s view, it is not and should be fixed. (This so called “Reparative Therapy,” by the way, has been debunked as damaging in study after study. Even the study he cites time and again was retracted by its own author. See the five letters to the AJN a couple of weeks ago by psychologists and psychiatrists attacking Cowen for his damaging views.

Miriam Grossman obviously does not like the way sex education is run in America, and perhaps Australian schools. You may agree or disagree with her, and may even decide to go to the event. I’ll be doing a consecration at a cemetery at the time; otherwise, I might go myself to hear what she has to say.

The email we received and sent out stated “The following Public Address has been approved by the Rabbinical Council of Victoria and Rabbis of all denominations” The Rabbinical Council of Victoria contains only Orthodox rabbis, and I would be surprised to hear of any non-Orthodox rabbis approving of this talk.

Please accept our apology for sending out a notice for a program which does not in any way reflect the Worldwide Masorti Movement and especially not the values of Kehilat Nitzan. For an approach to sexuality, and homosexuality, which better reflect a Masorti/Conservative view of halachah to which I adhere, I suggest the following resources:

  • The teshuvah (Jewish legal responsum) from 2006, by Rabbis Dorff, Nevins, and Reisner titled HOMOSEXUALITY, HUMAN DIGNITY & HALAKHAH (click on the title to download)
  • The section on sexuality in the wonderful new volume from our Movement called The Observant Life. The Kindle version for your Kindle, iPad, Smartphone, or computer, can be purchased here.

Please be in touch if you have any thoughts or questions on these or other topics.

Shabbat Shalom,

Adam Stein


Our Rabbi

Adam SteinRabbi Adam Stein became the rabbi at Kehilat Nitzan in August 2011. He received his ordination from The Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University in Los Angeles. He also earned a Master of Arts in Education from AJU. Before coming to Kehilat Nitzan, Rabbi Stein was the Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom in Kansas City, Missouri.

His journey to the rabbinate began in high school and in college at the University of California, San Diego, when he spent his junior year at Hebrew University and summers at Camp Ramah and the Brandeis Collegiate Institute. Following college, he studied in Israel at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.

In addition to Judaism, Rabbi Stein counts among his great loves his wife Tamar, his parents, sister, extended family and… Macintosh computers.

Office Hours

Rabbi Stein is in and out of the office meeting with congregants, at funerals, making hospital visits, and so on. He will be available in the office (Level 1, 230 Balaclava Road, Caulfield Junction) on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons between 2 pm and 4 pm if you want to meet with him. You can call him at 0422 674 455 or send an email.



JCCV grovels to Orthodox on gay inclusion

Feb 16, 2011

[SOURCE]

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has today released details of ‘ground breaking’ work that they’ve undertaken, to try to work out some way to remove the hate and intolerance in the Jewish community that ostracises and marginalises people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or unsure of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  There is incredible stigma in the Jewish community around these areas of human sexuality and gender identity, especially amongst those who subscribe to a fundamentalist interpretation of Jewish teachings.

Compounding this issue is the reluctance of the Jewish community, at best, to engage in the topic of discussions around the area of suicide, especially youth suicide.  I mention this as there is an especially high and alarming rate of suicide amongst GLBT youth.

It is with highly cautious optimism that I am pleased to see discussions on this issue going on.  Some talk is better than no talk.  However I am extremely disturbed that the JCCV are undertaking this in the context of the Orthodox interpretation of homosexuality.  This issue is so serious that any religious parameters placed around the discussions will effectively render the entire process a complete waste of time.  It is the fundamentalist religious attitudes that have created this dire situation and while there is any respect given to them, there can be no credibility placed on what the JCCV are doing.  In fact these intolerant religious attitudes much be challenged, even if this is not popular.

From the media release:

Searle says that although the JCCV leaves questions of Halacha to the Rabbonim, the JCCV remains guided by principles of inclusion and support for Jewish people to live meaningful lives. “The JCCV was set up as an umbrella organisation to protect the needs of all Jews in the Victorian Jewish community and is hence obliged to investigate areas of concern and provide support structures as necessary.”

The JCCV is a secular organisation representing a highly diverse Jewish community. It is imperative that it respect the complete religious diversity of the community they claim to represent.  From a religious perspective, there is a significant percentage of members who are Progressive and Conservative, in addition to those who identify as Orthodox or similar.  There are also members of the Jewish community who are secular and who do not subscribe to any religious teachings.  This reference group must not operate within a religious context, as the JCCV is not a religious organisation and does not operative within any specific religious context.

The highly partisan stance the JCCV has taken on this matter betrays the impartiality of the JCCV, if it ever had any.  I would strongly encourage the JCCV to include representation from the Progressive community on this reference group, along with community members who do not have an Orthodox allegiance.

Given the extreme lack of transparency the JCCV has fostered with their GLBT Reference Group, one can only conclude that it consists of people stacked from the Orthodox community, people sympathetic to the Orthodox community and people who simply don’t understand the dynamics of the diverse nature of the Jewish community.

Until the JCCV acknowledges that the Progressive and Conservative Jewish communities have a diametrically opposed, inclusive and accepting understanding and interpretation of homosexuality to that of the fundamentalist Orthodox community, they will be doing the entire Jewish community a serious disservice.

Lastly, the JCCV continues to sideline people, such as me, who have the credentials to competently address many of their concerns.  It begs the question why this is the case.


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