Ruth and Naomi: A Family Unprotected by Proposition H8 Wednesday, Dec 24 2008 

Do not press me to abandon you,

To turn back from following you.

Wherever you go, I shall go.

And wherever you find rest, so shall I.

Your people shall be my people,

And your G-d shall be my G-d.

Where you die, I shall die,

And there I shall be buried.

Thus may Adonai do to me,

And thus may Adonai add

If even death will separate me from you.

(Ruth 1:16-17)

      There are those that would use a religious argument against Proposition 8, but right above you, you have an example directly from the Book of Ruth (English translation of course) where Ruth pledges a lifelong commitment to Naomi.  Lesbian midrash views Ruth’s declaration as the love of two women who overcome differing faiths and differing generations to spend their lives together.

“A Jewish lesbian midrash on Ruth requires that we read between the lines of the text and imagine Ruth’s words as a manifestation of her sexual desire for Naomi.” (Alpert, Like Bread on the Seder Plate)

     While many people view religious texts as written in stone, they forget that for centuries, Rabbis and scholars have interpreted the intent of the words in those religious texts and have certainly not agreed on everything.  Many words are open to interpretation, and sadly, many of those interpretations have been used to fuel hate against gays and lesbians.  Many of these interpretations have also been used to hold back women from becoming Rabbis…when the very first female “Rabbi” has been viewed to be Sarah, Abraham’s wife, or Miriam, Moses’ sister.

      Rebecca Alpert, a lesbian Rabbi, does a fine job of explaining the lesbian midrash, especially of the so-called “troubling texts” in the Torah in her book, “Like Bread on the Seder Plate.”  To give a taste of what is in her book– as I believe that it is worthwhile reading for everyone, not just Jews, who have concerns about “the Old Testament” or the Torah’s views on homosexuality–she goes into detail on the prohibition read on Yom Kippur from Leviticus, which has been interpreted from the Hebrew by many to state, “Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination” Leviticus 18:22.

“Perhaps the text is suggesting that any heterosexual man who wants to experiment sexually with ‘lying with a man’ should consider that such a ‘fling’ might be hurtful to his current partner and should therefore refrain from this action.  Another contemporary commentator, Yehuda ben Ari, focuses his comments on the phrase “as with a woman” suggesting that the text is only trying to tell us not to make love to a male as if he were a female-that is to say, gay love and straight love are indeed different.  One should not be confused with the other, because the acts do not evoke the same feelings or fulfill the same commandments.”

      She goes into depth about the interpretation of the word ‘to’evah’ which has been interpreted to mean ‘abomination’.  Again, I have provided only a snippet:

“Biblical criticism can explain why homosexual acts were considered to’evah (abomination) from a different perspective, by examining parallel linguistic uses of the word.  ‘To’evah’ may be a technical term used to refer to a forbidden idolatrous act.  From this linguistic understanding it is possible to conclude that the references in Leviticus are specific to cultic practices of homosexuality and not to sexual relationships as we know them today.  This explanation is supported by reference to the other uses of the term ‘to’evah’, which often refers to ritual violations.”

      I am very thankful to be a member of a Reconstructionist synagogue, which prefers the interpretation that monogamy is far more important and sacred than heterosexuality.  Reconstructionist and Reform Judaism both will perform same sex marriages for just this reason.

      Last I checked, America is about separation of church and state, which is something Proposition 8 violates.

      For those who are interested in this amazing book, http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Seder-Plate-Rebecca-Alpert/dp/0231096615/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1230169918&sr=8-1

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Action Alert Saturday, Nov 22 2008 

From Join the Impact:

  1. Nov. 28th – Dec. 20th: The National LGBTQ Food Drive – Through this event, we will work to reach out not only to those who have worked alongside us, but to organizations and individuals that fear us and oppose our cause.  Our efforts to alleviate the hunger America is facing in this difficult time will be indiscriminate with regards to creed or political philosophy.  These are gaps we can and must bridge if we are going to achieve equality in this country.
  2. December 5th: MILK Movement: Let’s honor the memory of Harvey Milk and get everyone out to the theater for the national release of this film by Gus Van Sant.  Gaining equality requires visibility.  This world needs to know that we exist and that our numbers are huge.  So many people don’t understand just how many US Citizens are denied equal rights.  Let’s make MILK one of the top 3 grossing movies for the weekend of December 5th.  And let’s do it by going to the theaters that support our community.  Please keep checking back for a list of pro-LGBTQ theaters to support the weekend of December 5th.  This movie is something that will help keep this important conversation going so let’s fill those seats! (More info to come soon).
  3. December 10th: Day Without a Gay – Day Without a Gay is about an economic boycott.  Our community contributes $700 billion a year to this economy (the same amount as the bailout), yet we are not given equal protections under the law that every citizen deserves.  As such, it is time we make a stand.  During the largest shopping season of the year, we ask that you do one very important thing: Don’t Buy Anything!  What would happen to this world if the LGBTQ community didn’t exist?  Why is it that we continue to contribute to an economy and government that does not contribute to us?  Let’s answer these questions on December 10th.
  4. December 20th: Light up the Night for Equal Rights – On November 15th, we took to the streets and shouted for our rights and against the acts revoking rights on November 4th.  We mobilized in ways this country has never seen and did so on the steps of City Halls and US Embassies throughout the world!  On December 20th, we ask that you join us again for a demonstration that will make an impact on the private sector.  Thanks to the great suggestion of one of our readers mixed with the brilliant ideas of the Civil Rights Front, we ask that you join us to Light Up the Night for Equal Rights.
  5. January 10th: National Protest Against DOMA – Please join us to make history AGAIN.  Let’s march on our state capitols and remind President Elect Barack Obama that he promised to Repeal DOMA!
  6. February 12th: Freedom to Marry Day Sit In – February 12 is Freedom to Marry Day and we are teaming up with MarriageEquality.org to bring visibility of immense proportions to this issue.  Let’s exercise our freedom as citizens of this country!  We ask that you join us at the steps of your City Hall and ask for a marriage license.  If you are denied a license, don’t leave.  Sit with your community, your allies, and friends.  Let’s show this country just how many US Citizens are DENIED EQUAL PROTECTIONS UNDER THE LAW.

Liberal Jews Overwhelmingly Vote AGAINST Prop 8! Wednesday, Nov 12 2008 

As a Jew, I have never been prouder.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/11/new-obama-voter.html

“Black liberals were the critical voting bloc. Jewish liberals voted overwhelmingly against Prop 8, to offer a simple contrast. Obama has always opposed marriage equality, even splitting with his own church on the issue. In California, he got his way.”

http://jta.org/news/article/2008/11/09/1000851/most-la-jews-voted-against-same-sex-ban

“On Proposition 8, Jewish Angelinos voted 78 percent against the ban while only 8 percent supported the ban, according to the survey of 1,200 voters in 50 precincts. The remainder declined to respond. The Jews’ vote against the ban was the highest proportion of any ethnic or religious group.”

Of course, no one is perfect….

“Los Angeles Jewish voters also voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, giving him 78 percent of votes to 20 percent for John McCain. The president-elect’s Jewish numbers in Los Angeles matched the percentage nationwide.”

Dayenu…it would have been enough…..

If the media had talked about Farrakhan and his links to Obama.

If the media had brought up the Birth Certificate.

If the media had brought up Obama’s flip-flopping on an undivided Jerusalem.

If the media had brought up Palin’s approval rating in the Alaskan Jewish community.

Dayenu.