And as for the question of gay marriages, he argues that “in America in 10 years, maybe less, maybe more, it won’t be an issue. The sociological trend is overwhelming. Under [the age of ] 30, 70 per cent favour gay marriage; under 18, it is probably 90 per cent. It is almost irrelevant what your view is, you are standing against the ocean in America and I suspect that will be true of Europe, too.”
Theologically, there are different Conservative teshuvot on the subject. “You can argue, especially if you use biblical criticism, that what the Bible was proscribing was not necessarily gay relationships.”
Openly gay and lesbian students are already admitted to the American Conservative rabbinic institutions, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the American Jewish University. “Gay marriage is a matter of time,” he said, “whether one likes it or not.”
He visited the UK earlier this summer to deliver the annual memorial lecture for Rabbi Louis Jacobs. But he also dropped in to Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation and saw Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.
He is an admirer of the Chief Rabbi’s writings, describing him in a recent review as the “most gifted expositor of Judaism today” and a “masterful interpreter” of Torah, who is best placed to give contemporary Judaism what it currently lacks: a comprehensive philosophy. But he also has his criticisms, saying that Lord Sacks’s ignoring of comparative religion, archaeology, history and textual criticism of the Bible has left a “gaping hole” in his work.
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