Landmark decision to allow same-sex marriages

In a landmark decision, the South African Union for Progressive Judaism (SAUPJ) has decided to allow marriages between Jewish couples of the same gender.

“This decision was arrived at after long and thoughtful deliberation, and in the spirit of what Progressive Judaism is about – inclusion of all Jews regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity,” said Steve Lurie, chairperson of the SAUPJ.

At the National Assembly of the SAUPJ held in Durban on 6 May, it was agreed that there should be no distinction in the status of religious marriages of same-sex partners and heterosexual couples.

“This is a matter of justice and principle and we believe it is what Judaism requires of us in this day and age,” said Lurie. “As an inclusive movement, and one with a strong commitment to ensure that injustice is not done in our communities, we believe that this move goes a long way to repudiate prejudice.”

In December 2006, South Africa became the fifth country in the world to grant same-sex couples the same status and rights as heterosexual marriage partners.

“The SAUPJ honours the divine within all human beings, and their right to live with dignity,” said Lurie.

Questions and answers about same-sex marriage

Rabbi Greg Alexander explains the reasoning behind the SAUPJ decision and how this relates to Progressive Jewish principles.

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Most biblical commentators, Jewish and Christian, hold that the Bible is unambiguously opposed to homosexuality. But Professor Frederick Greenspahn argues that the scriptural references are often misinterpreted. From the CCAR Journal, a US Reform quarterly. (In PDF format: 67kb)

A quick guide to Progressive Judaism

Progressive Judaism embraces our traditions, and works to make them meaningful parts of contemporary life. Personal responsibility, egalitarianism, community and local tradition are the hallmarks

Minhag South Africa

Document outlining the current practices of congregations affiliated to the SA Union for Progressive Judaism (In PDF format:100kb)

Questions and answers on Progressive Judaism

Ten questions and answers about South African Progressive Judaism, as described in the 1980s by the late Rabbi Dr David Sherman of Cape Town. (Note that some of these practices have since changed)