Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Bad News From Scotch Plains, New Jersey

For those of you that don't know, I grew up in New Jersey. However, it's been a long time since I've been there. For the majority of my sojourn in This World I have been privileged to live in the land of Israel. I am everlastingly grateful to God for giving me the wisdom and fortitude to leave the comfortable and familiar, and to pack my bags and return to the land of my fathers. I am grateful to live in a generation in which one can do so for the price of an airplane ticket.

That being said I still have a place in my heart for New Jersey, especially its Jewish community. One of the advantages of the age of internet is the ability to read news from the old country, to see "What's going on?" and "Whatever happened to?". One of the sites I visit regularly is the New Jersey Jewish News.

Recently I came across a disturbing report there from Scotch Plains, N.J.:

Bernard “BJ” Solomon and his husband Zev, better known as “Duncan” (ne William Hines, now Solomon also) called their huppa ceremony at Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday evening, Sept. 13, an “upgrade.” While it wasn’t exactly a first for them, it was the first same-sex wedding held at the Conservative synagogue in Scotch Plains.

The couple, who have been together for 12 years, had a Jewish marriage ceremony marking their civil union five years ago. But the celebration at CBI added the religious and secular recognition they wanted. “We feel more complete,” BJ said.

Held after the Havdala ceremony concluding Shabbat, it followed a bar mitzva celebration for Duncan, 35, during the Ma’ariv service that afternoon, and his conversion to Judaism last May. Their new license reflected New Jersey’s 2013 law granting gays full marriage rights.

How do you say, "Conservative Judaism is imploding!"?

I took a peek at Congregation Beth Israel's web site. If the Conservative Temple that I attended as a youth had a web site, it would probably have been similar. (Of course the Rabbi of my Temple, ob"m, would never have taken part in a "gay wedding" any more than he would have sold pork chops to his congregants.) Browsing the site, I saw that they have youth groups, "kadimah" and "USY".

The mention of USY took me down memory lane: the USY meetings, dances and conventions. I thought of those youth there in Scotch Plains, seeing their "rabbi" perfoming a gay marriage, and then going to Temple on Yom Kippur and hearing the Torah reading during Minchah:

1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: I am the LORD your God. 3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their statutes. 4 Mine ordinances shall ye do, and My statutes shall ye keep, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God.
22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination. 23 And thou shalt not lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith; neither shall any woman stand before a beast, to lie down thereto; it is perversion. 24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things; for in all these the nations are defiled, which I cast out from before you. 25 And the land was defiled, therefore I did visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land vomited out her inhabitants. 26 Ye therefore shall keep My statutes and Mine ordinances, and shall not do any of these abominations; neither the home-born, nor the stranger that sojourneth among you-- 27 for all these abominations have the men of the land done, that were before you, and the land is defiled-- 28 that the land vomit not you out also, when ye defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29 For whosoever shall do any of these abominations, even the souls that do them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Therefore shall ye keep My charge, that ye do not any of these abominable customs, which were done before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God. {P}
I imagine that they were quite perplexed. The Torah says one thing, yet the rabbi seems to be doing something else entirely!

The good news is that we are in the internet age. Authentic Torah is readily available on line. These confused youth, if they are interested, have the truth available at the click of a mouse.

After recovering from the shock I received from reading the article, I left the following comment at the NJJN web site:

The job of a rabbi is to uplift them to the Divine ideals of Torah and not lower tham down into the depravity of ancient Egypt:

“Lesbian relations are forbidden and it is among the “doings of Egypt” that we have been warned about as it is said, “After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do”. The sages said, “What did they do? A MAN MARRIES A MAN, and a woman marries a woman, and a woman marries two men.”

From Maimonides, Laws of Forbidden Relations 21:8

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