KMA November 2018 Protocol

Summary of KMA Board Meeting

November 6, 2018

 

Attending: Alexis, Beth, Jeff, Dovy and Brian

Absent: Rachel, Gadi, Rav Kleiner, Zahava and Anita

 

The meeting was devoted to discussion the document Alexis sent out to the congregation on KMA’s current policy regarding non-Halachic marriage and the feedback received so far. The document (in Hebrew and English) is attached.

In the course of the meeting, the background to the preparation and sending of the document was clarified and a course of action delineated to address the negative feedback received. Following is a detailed account.

In March 2018 a KMA board meeting addressed the issue of announcing a Kiddush to honor a same sex marriage. There is no written summary of the meeting, and the actual nature of the discussion at that meeting and what was decided is given to different interpretations. In broad terms, from the discussion at the Nov. 6 meeting it appears that Rabbi Kleiner presented general definitions and Halachic rules for a better understanding of the issue of marriages not recognized halachically – as well as a policy following from such. Discussion ensued, and the Board accepted the policy based on its understanding that it was Halachically mandated.

As noted above, no summary of the meeting was prepared. Thus, no written and agreed upon account of the discussion and decision existed – thus when the issue occurred again and policy was invoked, there was no definitive document defining that policy thus sowing renewed confusion and contention.

Alexis therefore requested that Rabbi Kleiner prepare a document that delineated the policy accepted by the Board at its March 2018 meeting. Rabbi Kleiner’s final draft of the document (Hebrew and English — attached) was received by Alexis on October 23, 2018.

On November 5, 2018, Alexis sent out the document, in Hebrew and English, to the congregation via the KMA News mailing list. Without going into details of the background of the document, the email stated as follows:

 

Dear Friends,

As our community grows and changes, the leadership must address these changes. Please find attached the current KMA policy on non-halachic marriage.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Alexis (054-803-3357)

President, KMA

 

שלום חברים,

טבעה של כל קהילה לגדול, להתפתח וגם לראות שינוים.  אנו רואים זאות האחריות שלנו, כמניהגי קהילה, להתייחס לכל מיני שינוים המתרחשים בקרב הקהילה.  אנא תראו פה קובץ מצורף עם המדיניות של קמ”א על נושא נישואין בהלכה.  אנא תרגישו בנוח ליצור קשר איתי עם כל שאלה.

אלקסיס (054-803-3357)

יו”ר, קמ”א

 

Immediately angry emails responded to Alexis’ email, questioning who wrote the document, the halachic basis for it, and the policy decisions set out within it. Rabbi Kleiner sent the Board a clarification by WhatsApp, brought in whole below.

 

שלום לכולם .

הוועד הקודם קבל את ההחלטה בעניין המדיניות הקהילתית ביחס לנישואין חד מיניים. ההחלטה התקבלה אחרי דיון מעמיק בו הבאתי את עמדתי והסברתי את המורכבות ההלכתית וההגיון ההלכתי. הדבר נדון בוועד בהרחבה וההחלטה התקבלה. זה היה חד משמעי בוועד ההוא.

ההנחיות שכתבתי הן הסבר ההגיון והנחיות איך לפעול בכל המקרים. אין זה פסק ההלכה, כי אין זה דבר הקשור להלכה, אלא למדיניות הקהילה.

המדיניות מבוססת על השקפה הלכתית, אבל זו מדיניות שעליה הוחלט בוועד לפני פחות משנה.

הבה נזכור כרע חשוב שהתשובות ההלכתיות של ועד ההלכה של כנסת הרבנים בארה”ב (המשמש ועד הלכה מרכזי של התנועה הקונסרבטיבית-מסורתית) קבל שתי תשובות בנושא ההומוסקסואלים, אחת המכירה בנישואין ואחת שלא מכירה בנישואין ונוקטת בהלכה הקבועה מזה דורי דורות. שתי התשובות שוות ערך והרבנים חופשיים לקבל כל אחת מהעמדות. זהו העקרון של הפלורליזם.

 

הודעות בקהילה, עריכת קידוש בקהילה, הכרזות פומביות בקהילה הם עניין של מדיניות ולא של הלכה. מה שכן, כל דבר שנעשה במעמד פומבי משקף את העמדה ההלכתית של הקהילה (גם אם זה לא הלכה) וכן מביא לתוצאות ולשרשרת של החלטות אחרות.

ההחלטות האלה כוללות היחס לנישואין אחרים בעייתיים בהלכה (ואנחנו נהיה מול עניין דומה קרוב מאד בנושא נישואי תערובת) וכן לא יארכו הימים עד שהדרישה תהיה להשוות את העמדה ההלכתית לעמדת המיניות. דבר גורר דבר וזו האחריות של הוועד להבין את ההשלכות של כל החלטה כזו. לכאן או לכאן.

מקווה שהדבר ברור יותר ושזה תורם לכם כלים ורקע לדון בנושא בישיבת הוועד.

בברכה

הרב קליינר

 

Rabbi Kleiner thus clarified that the policies delineated in the document are not themselves halacha, while expressing a Halachic viewpoint. He noted that the Committee on Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Council of the United States accepted two positions (“tshuvot”) on homosexuality, one recognizing marriage and one not recognizing marriage. Both positions have equal weight and the Rabbis are free to accept either of them. Yet apart from the Halacha, Rabbi Kleiner emphasizes that “Kehila announcements, holding a Kiddush in the Kehila, and public announcements in the Kehila are all a matter of policy and not of Halacha.” At the same time, everything that is done publicly represents the Halachic position of the Kehila (even if it itself is not Halacha) and has consequences regarding other decisions – such as mixed marriages and so on. “One thing leads to another and it is the Board’s responsibility to understand the consequences of these decisions, whatever they may be.”

From all of the above, the Board at its November 6 meeting, understands that it has the authority to re-visit the policies set out in the document in accordance to its understanding of the will of the Kehila. As such, the following operational decisions were reached:

 

  1. Alexis will send out an email to the congregation before this coming Shabbat (by Friday, Nov. 10) noting that the Board is re-assessing the policies in the document and requesting that those who have not already given their feedback to the document, do so by a given date. The email will also note that the Board will be taking up this issue at its next meeting in December. Beth will prepare the draft of the email, and it will be shared with Rabbi Kleiner before it is sent.
  2. Alexis will share with the Board (and Rabbi Kleiner) all emails already received and that will be received regarding this issue, prior to the next Board meeting.
  3. Alexis will share with Rabbi Kleiner summary of the November 6 Board meeting.
  4. Jeff will work with Eitan Cooper to present the Board with an alternative to the current policy regarding kiddushim and announcements as they relate to same sex marriages, to be presented at the next Board meeting, taking into account the response of the Kehila to the current policy.
  5. Dovy will prepare a proposal for an educational program in which divergent Halachic views on homosexuality will be presented, to allow the Kehila to assess for itself the Halachic possibilities and its position, as a Kehilah, in relation to the Halacha and homosexuality.
  6. At present, the document sent by Alexis, and the policies expressed in it, reflect the decision of the Board at its March 2018 meeting, and shall continue to bind the Board and the Kehila until/unless amended by a decision of the Board.

 

Summary prepared by Brian