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Saturday 19 January 2008

A welcome change - same-sex adoption - Gilad Kariv

A welcome change
Allowing same-sex couples to adopt will strengthen Jewish families
Gilad Kariv

In accordance with a sort of expected pattern, Shas ministers played
their regular role in the discussion over the welfare minister's
intention to allow same-sex couples to adopt a child in Israel. Again we
heard slogans regarding the sanctity of the Jewish family and the
terrible danger to the State of Israel's Jewish identity, should the
minister's intention materialize.

For a moment it seemed as if Shas ministers really do not know that at
this time already we have thousands of children in Israel living in
same-sex families. In this case, just like the case with many other
affairs related to the character of Israeli families, the law trails far
behind a reality that does not cease to renew and develop.

In fact, those who seek to make room for Jewish tradition in our life
should favorably view any move aimed at boosting Israeli family life
premised on mutual respect, partnership, and responsibility, at a time
when Western and liberal societies are coping with an increased number
of divorces, a decline in birthrates, and the weakening of the family
unit. We should encourage any wish for a solid partnership and
responsible parenting, regardless of whether it is heterosexual or
homosexual. We are lucky to see growing circles within Israeli society
naturally and simply accepting these family units.

Removing the obstacles faced by same-sex couples who wish to adopt an
Israeli child constitutes a clear and unequivocal expression of the
State's recognition that the child's good would not be undermined
because he or she have same-sex parents, and that this good hinges on,
first and foremost, the quality of family life and the relationships
within it. This recognition by the State is another layer en route to
pushing back bias, which is the only thing that could affect the good of
a child of same-sex parents.

Things have changed

And what about the Jewish tradition? Well, there is no doubt that
Judaism rejects homosexuality. Yet there is no doubt that the Torah and
Jewish tradition did not at all recognize there could be a possibility
of full family life of same-sex couples.

The decision on whether to apply the ancient Torah ban to modern
realities is not something that should be taken for granted. It is
doubtful whether there is another area where Jewish tradition saw so
many changes and developments as is the case with family life. Past
patterns that were legitimate in biblical times (i.e. polygamy,
concubines etc.) were rejected by later generations. On the other hand,
conduct that was considered impossible in the Torah and as complete
betrayal of familial and sexual customs is today a common norm that Shas
ministers and other national conservatives do not even dream of
objecting to.
As we know, the Torah ban on desecrating the Shabbat is as severe as the
ban on homosexuality. Can someone imagine Shas ministers demanding that
secular heterosexual couples who desecrate the Shabbat be deprived of
the right to adopt a baby in the State of Israel? Well, why is the case
of same-sex couples any different? Is it because of their small numbers
compared to the secular community, or maybe because sexual behavior at
this time constitutes the greatest threat to religion conservatism,
which protects itself with thick layers of homophobia?

One way or another, Shas ministers and their supporters need not worry.
They will not be asked to celebrate the bar or bat mitzvahs of these
happy children in their synagogues. It is good to see that in Israel,
just like in other Jewish communities worldwide, the number of religious
communities that would be glad to embrace these children and their
parents keeps on growing.

Attorney Gilad Kariv is a reform rabbi and heads the Israel Religious
Action Center


At 20 January 2008 at 16:15 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the interesting article.

I think it would be useful and appropriate to post the links to the original articles and the dates the articles were published.,7340,L-3485145,00.html
Published: 12.21.07


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