Not just for straight couples: British rabbi to launch matchmaker service for gays

Eli Kaufman, left, with his husband Paul Ginsberg under the Chuppah during their wedding. Photo courtesy of Paul Ginsberg
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi of England’s Movement for Reform Judaism is launching a matchmaking service that will cater to same- sex Jews as well as opposite sex couples. Photo courtesy of The Movement for Reform Judaism.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi of England’s Movement for Reform Judaism, is launching a matchmaking service that will cater to same-sex Jews as well as opposite-sex couples. Photo courtesy of the Movement for Reform Judaism

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) The senior rabbi of England’s Movement for Reform Judaism is launching a matchmaking service that will cater to same-sex Jews as well as opposite-sex couples.

After requests from members of England’s small same-sex Jewish community, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner and other Reform rabbis will act as “shadchanim,” or matchmakers, a time-honored tradition in a faith that values marriage.

Janner-Klausner said she wants to launch a website that will serve as a conduit, both online and off, where lonely men and women, both gay and straight, can meet. If relationships develop, the couples can then discuss religious home issues and other problems with qualified rabbis.

England’s Reform and Liberal Jewish movements have long sanctioned gay marriage. But it has not received the blessing of this country’s much larger Orthodox community.

“I have great sympathy with gay people who are lonely, but there is no question that single-sex relations are contrary to the halakhah,” or Jewish law, said Rabbi Alan Plancey, an Orthodox rabbi.

Unlike Plancey, Janner-Klausner believes halakhah changes with the times and that gay people have as much a right to sanctify their relationships as everyone else.

“The point to make is that we want to help people to meet other Jews, those who are interested in living a Jewish life,” she said. “Both relationships, straight or gay, can have ‘kedusha,’ holiness.”

Eli Kaufman, left, with his husband Paul Ginsberg under the Chuppah during their wedding. Photo courtesy of Paul Ginsberg

Eli Kaufman, left, with his husband, Paul Ginsberg, under the Chuppah during their wedding. Photo courtesy of Paul Ginsberg

She said the same matchmaker who introduced her parents introduced her to David, now her husband.

“It’s part of a golden tradition, but it shouldn’t be regarded as an old-fashioned thing to do,” she said. “No one should think of gay people as being any different in that regard.”

But the Reform movement is only willing to marry couples — straight or gay — if both partners are Jewish.

She added: “At the bottom of it all is the question of numbers. Jewish gays live in a niche religious community. They are a minority within a minority. If they want to remain Jewish, it’s even harder for them than other gay people. I believe that the community is more ready for this than ever before.”

There are 42 Reform Judaism congregations in England, Wales and Scotland, but it is not clear how many will be involved as part of the matchmaking service or when the service will begin.

A recently married same-sex couple said attitudes toward such unions are changing, even among Orthodox Jews in Israel.

Eli Kaufman and Paul Ginsberg were married in November by Rabbi Miriam Berger and Cantor Zoe Jacobs at the Finchley Reform Synagogue in North London.

“Eli and I were lucky to meet up,” Ginsberg said. “It took us a long time to find the right partners. By finding someone of the same religion, we shared a common cultural and religious heritage that we both value hugely, but this might have otherwise been lost or diminished. Finding the right partner is always a challenge, so any help along the way can only be a good thing.”

Paul Ginsberg, left, with husband Eli Kaufman during their wedding. Photo courtesy of Paul Ginsberg

Paul Ginsberg, left, with husband Eli Kaufman during their wedding. Photo courtesy of Paul Ginsberg

Ginsberg, 35, is from London, where he works as a database administrator for a British charity. Kaufman, 32, was born in Russia but was brought up in Israel and works at the London office of an Israeli technology company. The couple met online and decided to have a drink together. Kaufman’s idea for a second date was klezmer dancing. “Our fate was sealed,” Ginsberg said, chuckling.

“We have got used to the ordinariness of being a same-sex couple in London,” he said. “But even when we’re in Israel it no longer seems like an issue.”


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Trevor Grundy


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  • Orthodox Jews don’t recognize anyone but their own anyway. So we can save ourselves the nonsense of silly claims that Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner is not being a “true Biblical Jew”. The fact that she is of the Reform sect is enough to spark those insults from the Orthodox crowd.

    Of course the opinions of such people have zero bearing on her position, belief or the fact she is of the same faith as those who would make such claims.

  • (a) We don’t believe in hell. (b) Even nominally halachic movements have approved gay marriage, so what she’s doing is firmly within tradition. (c) Would you be less disapproving if it was a male rabbi?

  • Right on cue.

    Jimmy is unfamiliar with the Reform and Conservative sects of Judaism. The ones making up the overwhelming majority of the faith in the US. Both sects have female rabbis. If you don’t like that or their views on marriage equality, don’t join them.

  • Male or female, I don’t care. I am a Catholic, our religion born in Judaism. What appalls me is any religion that knows the one God has the audacity to sanction gay marriage. It is not a debateable issue, it is an intrinsically evil definition that some misguided fools now call a virtue… evolution of the human soul, a blessing……whatever.It’s like calling a fat person thin, when the reality is that they are fat. You cannot possibly imagine a god that agrees with this. Just sounds like a good business plan to fill the Synagogue.

  • It’s no better a business plan than eliminating kashrut and circumcision. Everybody does it one way or another..
    I don’t have to “imagine” a god who approves of this, that’s not how the halachic process works. We discern the meaning of Torah through intensive, critical and confrontational study.

  • @James Carr I’ve seen your hateful comments so far — and yes, they are blind and hateful. You wouldn’t know the Gospel if Jesus handed it to you. I’m sorry that you are this way and will pray to Christ for you. I have to tell you that if you want to see ‘evil’ gay couples, come on down to my church were you’ll see faithful gay couples and individuals preaching the Gospel, serving the sick and poor, helping to heal and to point towards the “one, true, living God.” I’m so glad you don’t get to speak for all Christians. and hurrah to our Jewish siblings!

  • “What appalls me is any religion that knows the one God has the audacity to sanction gay marriage.”

    Its not your religion. Hasn’t been closely related in any conceivable way for 2000 years. So what you are saying is you do not believe as the majority of Jews do. That much was pretty obvious.

    “it is an intrinsically evil definition that some misguided fools now call a virtue”

    Because YOUR religious leaders say so. Not because of anything intrinsic to the act itself besides your animosity to people of that persuasion.

    “You cannot possibly imagine a god that agrees with this.”

    You cannot. Many however do.

    ” Just sounds like a good business plan to fill the Synagogue.”

    Kind of like whipping up support to demonize and attack a class of people does wonders to get seats in pews and people in voting booths.

  • Geez, Caiphas looks like a genius now….at least he just misread the Messianic signs in the OT.

  • The devil can quote Scripture for his own means, that does not mean he is good. And you may label my comments hateful and blind til the cows come home, but I wonder on whose authority you spread the gospel and overlook or dismiss the sins named directly? Just too convenient and self serving for me to accept you as righteous. Sorry.

  • Funny how a comment can be removed that is simply anti the author’s view and not in the least bit untrue.

  • Those charitable activities are nowhere near as much fun as pointing fingers and screaming EEEEEEEEEEEEVILLLLLLLLLLLL!

    That’s what Mr. Carr enjoys. Well, that and presuming to speak for God.

  • Oh, Bennie, too witty you are! We must do lunch one day, darling.
    I must have forgotten the time I said I spoke for God, but you have stated it so it is true. I do so enjoy labeling evil, well, evil…..and oh my, I know that is just so “bad boy”, isn’t it? I am absolutely incorrigible, darling, and if you and Lariat did not slap my wrist , why, I could probably become a tad too Torquemondo. Imagine me a Grand Inquisitor at a queen’s court. Heads would be rolling all over the peasantry, yes?
    Do keep me in line with your droll comments. Nothing like being lectured by the rabble.
    Toodles, love.

  • When you’re done lobbing grade-school insults at the gays you “love” so much, feel free to explain what you’re talking about.

  • James- re:Caiphas – is what I meant for the explanation. RNS whatever you’re doing with the commenting system, it’s messed up.

  • Garson, those atheists need grade school taunts since their disbelief in God automatically disqualifies them from commenting on Religious articles……to me.
    As to the Caiphas remark:
    This High Priest is singled out in Christendom as the one most responsible for the death of Jesus. I see him as an Orthodox Jew who could not
    accept Jesus as the prophesied Messiah, desp
    ite the prophecies pointing to Him, that certainly
    Caiphas would have known. At least he was
    simply blind (per Christians), but he did not
    manipulate the LAW for his personal
    pleasure… I see this female Rabbi doing.
    Jewish history is Christian history to a point, of
    course, so the idea of professing a sin as now
    “not a sin” is highly presumptive….. especially
    when dealing with the gravest of sins against
    God’s morality. There is nothing that has come to
    light religiously that rationalizes gay
    marriage….so where does this authority to rewrite
    the laws come from? From God? If…

  • I guess what they say about the “big lie” is true. You start a big lie, and at first everyone laughs at it or at least they don’t take it seriously. But if you just keep on saying it then some people will start to believe it. Wow, I guess that actually works. It has been the basis for promoting evolution and now it is a constant mantra for “gay rights”. So then, many have evolved from apes. Now were those straight or “gay” apes? I’m not sure of the latest spin on that one. lol If you find this all to be absurd as do many of us. And if you seek the truth. You will find it in Jesus who is The Way The Truth and The Life. Receive Him as Lord and Savior, and you will know the truth, and the truth will indeed set you free.

  • So when Muslims tell you your religious beliefs are completely wrong, being the successors to Christians and the holders of Christian history as well, you will feel relieved. Someone from a newer faith is putting you on the correct path.

  • James, Caiphas wasn’t Orthodox, as there was no such thing at the time. Denominations like that in Judaism really didn’t develop until the Enlightenment. But Jesus’s theological claims as recorded in the Gospels would have been blasphemous to any Jewish person. He wasn’t “blind,” he was stating normative Jewish doctrines.
    The plain meaning (pshat) of Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 is a prohibition on anal sex between men. Technically, the Reform movement of the rabbi from the article views halacha as guiding but not binding. The majority position of the middle-ground Conservative movement, which views halacha as much more adaptable than Orthodoxy, is to retain the Torah prohibition cited above, in fact as a prohibition one must die rather than transgress, but to allow same-sex committed relationships on the same footing as heterosexual ones. And they’ll never admit it, but I suspect that’s becoming the de facto position of the left-leaning wing of Orthodox.

  • And so, by what authority do you judge? Tell us, what are your credentials and when did the Holy Spirit alight on you? That’s why I have a hard time believing that you’re righteous too James Carr. You have all the marks of one who hates under the cloak of love — a very evil thing to do when Christ made love as clear as day. Do you not repent?

  • Islam is basically a heretical religion, Larrio. It is a mish mash of Judaism and Christianity, that Muhammed created to unite the Arab nomads under his theology……a theology that changed as his whims changed. It has no credible lineage that Christianity has, and there are no prophecies pointing towards any Messiah but Jesus. They claim the same Abrahamic beginning, but that is merely wishful thinking.

  • I did not mean Orthodox in the sense we use the word today, just that he was a law abiding Jew who knew the Scriptures thouroghly, and saw Jesus as a threat and “heretical”.
    Since the anus is created for only expulsion of waste, it stands to reason that anal sex is a creation of man, unnatural, if you will.
    Again, my only problem with gays is their rape of the word “marriage”, and their attacking religion…….which can never TRULY bless this.

  • Repent? For what?

    I judge no one, I simply relay what I know sin is and what sin isn’t. I did not define sin, and the Holy Spirit may not like my style, but He can’t call me out on making things up.
    Love has nothing to do with sex…..except in the heterosexual marital bed…….find me a statement from God that negates that.

  • James,
    Your comment was removed due to violating RNS Rules of Usage.
    If you continue to violate RNS rules of usage, you will be banned from commenting.

  • According to the Jewish faith, Christianity is a heretical religion. One which missed the point of the teachings of its “parent”. Just like Muslims look to your religion in the same fashion.

    Jews would look upon your ranting about what is allegedly Biblically correct and what they are allegedly supposed to believe with the kind of skepticism and scorn one would naturally treat a presumptive ignorant outsider. Garson Abuita’s reaction to your nonsense is proof of that.

  • Blah, blah, blah…..
    You’re wrong in your analogy. The Jews and Christians are divided on the truth of Who Jesus is. Their religion has stalled since 33 AD, and no prophets from Judaism have emerged since to announce the coming Messiah. Jews speak of a Messianic age now….not a Redeemer.
    Islam comes from the sputtering of one man, a pagan, whose claims were his alone and have no eyewitness to his accounts of divine intervention. He lived in a part of the world where Jewish/Christian thought was known. This is how he blended their beliefs and hitched his bandwagon to the real thing.

  • So your a Mormon now? Talking about more recent prophets and saints. I thought you were a Catholic boy.