KMA Policy on Marriages Not Recognized by Halakhah

Kehilat Moreshet Avraham Congregational Policies on couples (marriages) not recognized by the Halakhah (same-sex, intermarriage, second marriage without get)

A General definitions and Halakhic rules (for a better understanding)

The Halakhah establishes that there are certain conjugal relations not recognized halakhically as wedlock even if they established a life in common, performed a civil marriage, or performed any kind of ceremony with a rabbi resembling a Jewish wedding.

The Halakhic term for a valid marriage is “kiddushin tofsin“. The marriage is not recognized as such (i.e. it is halakhically non-existent, “kiddushin lo tofsin“) if performed either between people whose relationship is under a “karet” injunction, “hayavay karet“, (forbidden sexual relationships, excepting niddah) or between a Jew and a non-Jew (see TB Yevamot 20b, 45a, Mishneh Torah Hilkhot Ishut 4:14-15, Sh. Ar. E.H. 44, 6 and 8).

On the other hand, in the case of “simple prohibitions” [“hayavay lavin“], i.e. relationships forbidden by the Torah but not sanctioned with “karet” (see. TB Yevamot 20b, Tur E.H. 18), the marriage is nevertheless valid and halakhically These cases include a Cohen married to a divorcee, a mamzer married to a Jew, or remarriage of a divorcee to her original husband after having married another man in-between. In all these cases, even though the Torah forbids the conjugal relationship, the marriage is considered to be valid [“kidushin tofsin“].

Along with the previous points, the Halakhah defines the marriage as the bond between a man and a woman (Mishneh Torah Hilkhot Ishut 1:1-3)

The Kehillah as an institution does not publicly endorse in any way conjugal relationships defined in the Halakhah as “kiddushin lo tofsin” [not halakhically recognized marriages] (see #2 above). These types of marriages include: same-sex marriages (either two men or two women), a Jew to a non-Jew, between previously Jewishly married people (either a woman or a man) who have no “get” [Halakhic divorce].

Congregational policy regarding Kiddush, announcements, and membership — for events/participants whose marriage is not halakhically recognized [“kiddushin lo tofsin“]

A Kiddush given by KMA under its sponsorship may honor life cycle events in keeping with the Kehilla’s halachic approach (outlined above).

KMA members may give a Kiddush under their own sponsorship for any family life cycle event they wish to celebrate or commemorate.

The reason for sponsorship of a Kiddush may be included in the weekly announcements sent out by e-mail, the printed weekly announcements, as well as the announcements at the end of Tfilot.

Private events of KMA members held within the facilities of KMA in a private setting are not subject to this policy.

Couples in non-halakhically recognized marriages may not join the Kehillah as a family. Any Jew in such a marriage can become a member of KMA as an individual.

Congregational policy regarding general honors (aliyah to the Torah, blessings [“mi sheberakh“] for the birth of a child, for a birthday, aliyah for Bar/Bat Mitzvah)

Kiddushin lo tofisn (non-halakhically recognized marriages) cannot be publicly acknowledged or announced by an aliya to the Torah (“oyfruf“, Shabbat Hatan, Shabbat Kallah)

Any Jew may and can be counted for the miniyan, regardless of his/her halakhic marital status or sexual definition.

Any Jew may and can be called for an aliyah to the Torah, regardless of his/her halakhic marital status or sexual definition.

Any Jew may and can be “sheliah tzibbur, regardless of his/her halakhic marital status or sexual definition.

Any Jew may and can have a personal “mi sheberakh (for birthday, health, to celebrate an achievement, “hagomel“, birth of a child, grandchild, etc.) regardless of his/her halakhic marital status or sexual definition.

Every Jewish child may and can receive the honors and the aliyot to mark their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, to celebrate their birth, brit milah, simhat bat, or to offer a Kiddush celebrating these milestones regardless the halakhic marital status or sexual definition of their parents.

Children born to a non-Jewish mother must convert halakhically (giur) to be counted as part of the minyan and to be given the honors noted above. These cases include children born from a non-Jewish surrogate mother and adopted children born from a non-Jewish mother.

The Halakhic states that the biological parents are the only parents a person has, hence a person has only one father and one mother. Therefore, an individual’s name composed of his or her given name and that of one of his or her parents (generally the father) even though at KMA we usually use the name of both parents for those who wish so. A child of a same-sex couple will be named following the classic halakhah mentioning only one biological parent or “ben/bat Avraham avinu” in the case of converts. If the biological father is Jewish and the mother is non-Jewish, there are those who permit the child to be called after the conversion by the name of the biological father instead of “Avraham avinu“. Therefore, if the parents wish so, the child will be called by the name of the biological father.

The principle explained in #15 applies also regarding a “mi sheberakh” for naming, the child’s aliyah to the Torah or any other “mi sheberakh” for the child.

If the child has a Jewish mother, but the father is non-Jewish or the child is a product of artificial insemination by a donor, the child will be named following the biological mother’s name (e.g. the child of a mother in a same-sex relationship)

Congregational policy regarding sickness, condolences announcements, Shiv’a and Yahrzeit

KMA will arrange the recitation during its tefillot of a “Mi sheberakh” for the health of any person on behalf and for any person who will ask for it. It will also arrange visits to the sick and provide all the Chessed committee services and arrangements for any person who will ask for them, regardless of his/her halakhic marital status or sexual definition.

KMA will make Shiv’a, Shloshim and Yahrzeit arrangements on behalf of any Jew and for any Jew who will ask for them, regardless of the halakhic marital status or sexual definition of that person.

KMA will deliver its condolences by all the regular means (printed, oral and Internet announcements) on the passing, God forbid, of any relative or partner of any Kehillah member, regardless of his/her halakhic marital status or sexual definition of the Kehillah member or the deceased.