Conservative Jews angry that same-sex couples are equal — to each other

Posted on 27 Sep 2012 at 1:43pm

In June, the Conservative Jewish movement approved same-sex weddings. Now that the ceremonies are commonly being performed in Conservative synagogues, heterosexual couples are complaining that same-sex marriages are more equal than opposite-sex marriages, according to the NY Post.

While Jews don’t believe in marriage as it’s existed since Biblical times, some traditions continue. In the Torah, marriage happens when a man rapes a woman, as long as the man is Jewish or at least converts. That is, as long as the brothers don’t murder him, as in the story in Genesis of Dinah.

Marriage also may happen when a man acquires his wife for the right price. And then he’s trusting that he’s given the right bride, as in the story of Jacob, also in Genesis, where he is given Rachel instead of Leah. But no problem: He later married Leah, too.

But what is the same in Conservative Judaism is that the husband still acquires the wife. And a religious divorce, called a Get, may only be initiated by the man. After all, how can property initiate something like a divorce that’s reserved for people, like men? Reform, the largest branch of Judaism in the U.S., and Reconstructionist Jews threw a lot of that crap out years ago.

When the Conservative movement created the wedding service for same-sex couples, a double-ring ceremony became part of the ritual. The same-sex couple become partners and rather than the man using the ring as a symbol of his acquisition of a woman, the two rings symbolize the acquisition of a partnership.

As for divorce, either partner may initiate it.

And straight couples are pissed. While the acquisition and one-sided relationship have been mostly symbolic, the new ceremony for same-sex couples has just thrown this blatant new equality in their straight faces.

Among those who are pissed are Conservative rabbis. Conservatives have been ordaining woman since the early 1990s and now more than half of Conservative rabbinical students are women. And Conservatives have been knowingly ordaining lesbian rabbis since 2006. (Of course lesbian rabbis were among their first classes of women rabbis in the 1990s.)

Some Conservative rabbis have argued that same-sex marriages aren’t true kiddushin (holiness) because in order to be on the same level as straight marriage, one partner must be dominant and acquire the other for a number of shekels that they declare during the ceremony. “I take you for my lawfully wedded wife,” comes from the Hebrew line, “I’m buying you for X shekels,” in the traditional ceremony that hasn’t really existed since Biblical times.

While most branches of Orthodox Judaism disagree on most things, they agree that same-sex marriage is an abomination and that all Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Jews are going to hell — not that they believe in hell.

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