A new group is hoping to energise Jewish support for same-sex marriage following a statement supporting marriage equality by Progressive rabbis.
“We, the members of the Moetzah, the Rabbinic Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia and New Zealand, support marriage equality under Australian law,” the Council wrote in May, writing that Progressive Judaism believes all people are created in God’s image and are therefore entitled to full equality.
In response, Roy Freeman, president of Sydney Jewish GLBT group Dayenu, has formed J4ME — short for Jewish community supporting Marriage Equality — for Jews who support marriage equality, regardless of denomination or sexual identity.
Freeman said he wanted to build on the work of people like Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich and PFLAG national spokeswoman Shelley Argent.
“A lot of people in the Jewish community support marriage equality but don’t see it as their issue so they don’t get involved with the lobbying,” Freeman said.
“I want to change that. I want to make sure it’s a conversation that is being had within the Jewish community and I want to raise the profile of the lobbying that is going on and encourage people to write to their MPs and senators.
“We’re on Facebook and in the process of setting up a website, J4ME.org.au, and we hope to organise some events in the near future to discuss marriage equality and spread the word and get more people involved.”
Freeman said he had been thinking about the idea for several months while working with the Progressive rabbis on the statement.
“It was an amazing statement and I’m very proud of the work they’ve done,” he said.
The Orthodox Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia responded to the Progressive statement by reaffirming its opposition to same-sex marriage, but Freeman said he personally knew Orthodox rabbis who supported marriage equality.
“Unfortunately, because of their role they’re not willing to speak out publicly but on a one-to-one basis they say how supportive they are but they don’t feel they’re in a position to break the trend, if you like.”
Melbourne-based Aleph convenor Michael Barnett said he would support the group.
“I am supportive of this and want to be involved to help advocate for marriage equality within the Jewish community,” he told the Star Observer.
Barnett said he believes a move to allow same-sex marriage in Australia would receive support from the wider Jewish community.
“There will be zero support from the strictly Orthodox, or more extreme members, from the Jewish community,” he said.
“I believe there would be a large amount of support from the bulk of the Jewish community who are not strictly Torah religious.”