Regarding homosexuality, the Hebrew Bible states:
And if a man lies with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
The Jews have divided into many groupings or denominations or branches or wings throughout their history. Disagreements and differences between these denominations on almost every aspect of Jewish life have often been violent. Theological differences between the various denominations are so diverse and leave the contemporary Jew totally confused and dumbfounded. LGBTQ is no different. The positions on this issue differ with each denomination, with major differences between them, leaving the onlooker standing in total dismay.
In order to simplify understanding, let us delve into the broad groupings of modern-day Jews and their positions on LGBTQ issues.
Orthodox Jews are those who adhere to a traditional understanding of Rabbinic law. Orthodox Jews are known for strict observance of the Sabbath and adherence to Kosher laws as determined by centuries of Rabbinic teaching. The Orthodox Jews are a very closed group and interact very little with the non-Jews.
Orthodox Judaism is further divided into the following categories:
Another name for this movement is Centrist Orthodoxy. The focus of this movement is to create harmony between observance of Jewish law and secular modernism.
The Ultra-Orthodox Jews are recognized by their distinct dress code: black hats for men and modest dress for women. The Ultra-Orthodox Jews are further divided into two main groups:
- Hasidic: Hasidic Jews come from the revivalist movement that started in the 18th century.
2. Yeshivish (also known as Litvish): These Jews are the heirs of the opponents of Hasidic Judaism. They place lots of importance on the study of the Talmud.
This denomination of Orthodox Judaism was founded by Rabbi Avi Weiss of New York during the 1990s. Open Orthodox Jews believe in more roles for women in religious leadership. They also desire openness to non-Orthodox Jews.
The stance of Orthodox Jews on LGBTQ can be summarized thus:
Orthodox Jews on the whole continue to reject homosexual behavior as fundamentally inconsistent with Jewish law. While there is little indication that this position is severely contested within that community, let alone likely to change in the near future, there have been initiatives to make Orthodox communities more welcoming of gay Jews. A statement authored in 2010 and signed by over 200 Orthodox rabbis expressly welcomed gay Jews fully into synagogue life even as it reiterated traditional Orthodox opposition to gay sex and same-sex marriage. An Israeli Orthodox rabbinic group released a similar statement in 2016. And a number of grassroots groups for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Orthodox Jews and their families have emerged, including JQY and Eshel.
Also known as Masorti Judaism. The adherents of this movement feel that Jewish law is obligatory, but in practice, there is great differences amongst its adherents. The conservatives felt that the Reformists had eliminated too many basic Jewish practices and hence, wanted to conserve the theology and rituals that had been destroyed. Essentially, they are watered down Orthodox Jews.
Their stance on LGBTQ:
The Conservative movement reversed its longstanding ban on gay sexual activity and reversed its policy of not ordaining gay and lesbian rabbis. In 2012, the movement endorsed gay marriage.
Some Conservative Jews, however, maintain a prohibition on same sex behaviors.
This movement places importance upon Jewish “ethical” tradition over the obligations of Jewish law. Reform Judaism rejects the concept of divine revelation and attributes the authorship of the Torah to divinely inspired human beings. This movement views itself as social-justice oriented and emphasizes personal choice in matters relating to ritual observance. These are the “liberal” Jews.
Their stance on LGBTQ is what you would expect:
The Reform movement’s rabbinic leaders officially considered heterosexual relationships “the ideal human relationship for the perpetuation of species, covenantal fulfilment, and the preservation of the Jewish people,” but by the mid-1990s, the movement had fully endorsed same-sex marriage — two decades before it became legal across the United States.
They are also very accepting of trans. The first tranny Rabbi was ordained in 2006.
Reconstructionism simply means that Judaism is the evolving civilization of the Jewish people. The idea behind it was first mentioned by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan in the United States during the 1920s. Those who adhere to Reconstructionism have differing views about the extent of the obligation of Jewish law. The Rabbinical Seminary of the Reconstructionist Jews was the first to accept openly gay students. Reform and Conservative seminaries later came to allow openly gay students to study and become ordained rabbis.
Jewish Renewal is a mixture of the prayer of Hasidic Judaism with religious diversity. The ethos of Jewish Renewal is gender equality, environmental consciousness and progressive politics. They are extremely pro-homosexuality and transgenderism.
Rabbi Sherwin Wine founded this movement in 1963. This denomination is not based on any claim to divine revelation. The Jews who follow this movement celebrate everything associated with Judaism without any reference to God. Obviously, they are big fans of sodomy as well.
- Living Judaism, Rabbi Wayne Dosick, 1995