A GAY couple will wed in a synagogue in an Australian first which could split the Jewish community.
Traditional Judaism regards homosexuality as "abhorrent", but three progressive rabbis have agreed to conduct the Sydney ceremony for bookshop owner Scott Whitmont, 47, and nurse Christopher Whitmont-Stein, 38.
The couple, together for nine years, said they were excited that their relationship would be recognised by their faith, despite same-sex marriage being illegal in NSW.
-- snip --The couple will wed under the traditional Jewish canopy or chuppah, exchange rings, say blessings over cups of wine and break a glass - another Jewish tradition.
Emanuel Synagogue Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, said contemporary ethics were at odds with received tradition about homosexuality.
"Contemporary knowledge from biology, psychology and other fields has led to a far deeper understanding of human sexuality," he wrote to congregants.
"Gay or lesbian relationships are not 'deviant', but part of human behaviour."
Orthodox sections of the Jewish community do not condone homosexuality.
Over the last couple of months I've been thinking long and hard about the kind of Jew I am and the kind of Jew I want to be. Going to Israel was eye-opening for me this time in a different way to that of my first visit. I saw different parts of Israel and also, I was ten years older. I also discovered a lot about the way that Judaism is presented and observed here in Perth. And it totally changed my perspective.
For example, I have never considered myself to be Chasidic. I have no desire to be Chasidic either. And I found out two things - 1. My grandfather was Chasidic (he was born in Czechoslovakia) and 2. Some of the traditions and customs that have started to take off in Perth are Chasidic. That totally changed things for me - because that's not the kind of Judaism I want to observe and by rejecting these, I am not rejecting Judaism, simply this flavour of it. And because Perth Jewry is small, that appears to be rejecting Judaism but that's not what actually what I am doing at all.
I belong to the Orthodox Synagogue here because my (other) grandfather built it, sat on the board for a very long time and because for most of my life it's been the main Shule to go to. I went to the Jewish (Orthodox) day school. Cause that was the only option. And I have been taught the religion, often in Hebrew, to that degree of observation. None of this I regret. However, I do wonder that if this city offered a Progressive option, whether that would be the flavour of Judaism that I would prefer. Because it's certainly far closer to my own personal beliefs and preferences of observance. I'm glad to be armed with the knowledge though to make that choice. And I choose a different one.