Syd­ney shul

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY DAN GOLD­BERG SYD­NEY

IN AN Aus­tralian first, a same-sex com­mit­ment cer­e­mony was held in a syn­a­gogue on Sun­day.

Scott Whit­mont, 47, and Christo­pher Whit­mont-Stein, 38, stood un­der a chup­pah at Emanuel Syn­a­gogue in Syd­ney in front of about 75 guests.

The pair, who had a civil-com­mit­ment cer­e­mony six years ago, ex­changed rings, smashed a glass and walked around each other three-anda-half times.

The cel­e­bra­tion fol­lowed a de­ci­sion in May 2007 by the Coun­cil of Pro­gres­sive Rab­bis of Asia, Aus­tralia and New Zealand to al­low its rab­bis to of­fi­ci­ate at same-sex com­mit­ment cer­e­monies.

Mr Whit­mont-Stein, a reg­is­tered nurse, con­verted at Emanuel Syn­a­gogue in 2002 un­der the guid­ance of Rabbi Jef­fery Kamins, who also of­fi­ci­ated at Sun­day’s cer­e­mony.

“We wanted to be recog­nised by our com­mu­nity and of­fi­ci­ated by our rabbi, that was im­por­tant to us,” he told the a gay news­pa­per. “We didn’t set out to be poster boys for gay Jewish mar­riage.”

In a re­cent let­ter to con­gre­gants, Rabbi Kamins de­fended his de­ci­sion. “Con­tem­po­rary knowl­edge from bi­ol­ogy, psy­chol­ogy and other fields has led to a far deeper un­der­stand­ing of hu­man sex­u­al­ity,” he wrote. “Gay or les­bian re­la­tion­ships are not ‘de­viant’, but part of hu­man be­hav­iour.”

The rabbi noted that Or­tho­dox Ju­daism would not en­dorse the vi­o­la­tion of Shab­bat, “but nei­ther would it shun a per­son who drove on Shab­bat”.

Dayenu, a gay and les­bian Jewish group, held a Shab­bat din­ner last Fri­day night in hon­our of the cou­ple.

It is still not le­gal for ho­mo­sex­ual cou­ples to marry un­der Aus­tralian law.

Whit­mont ( left) and Whit­mont-Stein

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