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Press Releases
July 13, 2001

Message to Reform Judaism:
Leviticus is Part of the Bible Too

Reform Opposition to Traditional Marriage Initiative
Draws Agudath Israel Fire

NEW YORK - The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's heated rhetorical opposition to the proposed "Federal Marriage Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution is "yet another sad example of how far the Reform movement has distanced itself from the faith of our fathers," a spokesman for Agudath Israel of America noted.

The proposed constitutional amendment, offered as a reaction to the growing militancy of "same-sex marriage" activists, would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.  The Religious Action Center's Associate Director, Mark J. Pelavin, in a statement released on July 12, asserted that the amendment "would defile the Constitution" and enshrine "homophobia and intolerance in a document which protects the rights of all Americans." He went on to wonder if "America's families and marriages and communities [are] so fragile and shallow that they are threatened by the love between two adults of the same sex."

Mr. Pelavin dressed up his movement's views in religious rhetoric; "We believe as a fundamental tenant [sic] of our faith that all human beings are created in the Divine image, as it says in Genesis 1:27, 'And God created humans in God's own image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them'."

"That Biblical truth, however, is not at issue," countered David Zwiebel, Agudath Israel's executive vice president for government and public affairs. "What is at issue is the definition of marriage and the morality of same-sex unions - a subject on which the Jewish Bible is quite explicit, if one only proceeds to Leviticus.

"Therefore, if the Bible and Jewish tradition are to inform the reaction of Jewish groups here, they does so clearly and strongly in the direction of support for this proposal.

"The question here is not one of intolerance of any person," the Agudath Israel leader added, "but rather of intolerance of the redefinition of timeless moral truths.  There are numerous 'love'-based relationships that even the Reform movement is presumably unwilling to legitimate at this point."

"Is it sad," he concluded, "that a group purporting to speak in the name of Judaism seems to be more concerned with what it imagines to defile the Constitution than with what unarguably defiles the Torah."

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