Selected LCSHJ Resolutions
Circumcision and Jewish Identity
The ceremony of welcoming a child to the world and to the Jewish people can be one of the most meaningful and exciting experiences. It is a tradition of the Jewish people to celebrate the arrival of sons with Brit Milah (ritual circumcision or “Bris“), yet our commitment to the equality of men and women inspires us to create new welcoming ceremonies. Secular and Humanistic Jews do not see Milah (circumcision) as a sign of a Brit (covenant), but circumcision may retain cultural or personal significance for some.
- We, the Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews, mindful of both our commitments to Jewish identity and to gender equality, affirm that:
- We welcome into the Jewish community all who identify with the history, culture and fate of the Jewish people. Circumcision is not required for Jewish identity.
- We support parents making informed decisions whether or not to circumcise their sons. We affirm their right to choose, and we accept and respect their choice.
- Naming and welcoming ceremonies should be egalitarian. We recommend separating circumcision from welcoming ceremonies.
Approved April 2002
Note: an earlier draft of this statement was mistakenly posted as the official statement – this is the statement as approved by the LCSHJ
Finding personal happiness in a loving and respectful relationship is a valid reason for marrying. In an open democratic society, where individual rights are valued, it is reasonable for some people to choose marriage partners from outside the cultural or religious community in which they were raised. When Jews choose to marry non-Jews, they may be simply combining their attachment to Judaism with a commitment to love and personal fulfillment.
We, the members of the Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews, deeply committed to the value of Jewish identity and to the importance of Jewish survival, strongly affirm:
- the right of individuals, including all Jews, to chose their own marriage partners;
- the obligation of Secular Humanistic Jewish Leaders to serve the needs of couples with different cultural and religious backgrounds and the right of such leaders to officiate at their wedding ceremonies. We recognize that differences in culture do not necessarily imply differences in philosophy of life;
- the right of Jewish Leaders to co-officiate with civil or religious officiants in any wedding ceremony that respects the cultures of both partners;
- the responsibility of all Jews to welcome the non-Jewish partners of Jews into the Jewish family circle and to offer them acceptance and respect.
We welcome into the Jewish community all men, women and children who identify with the history, culture and fate of the Jewish people.
Approved October 1991
In Support of Equality for Diverse Sexualities & Gender Identities
The Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews (“LCSHJ”), the professional body certifying Leaders to perform marriage ceremonies and other life cycle events, affirms the right and responsibility of its members to serve the needs of all couples seeking solemnization of their commitment to each other.
The LCSHJ is keenly aware of the injustices done by religious and secular laws that discriminate against minorities. We promote the freedom, equality, and empowerment of all people, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (“LGBT”). Our communities and movement are open and welcoming to LGBT people and their families who are attracted to Secular Humanistic Judaism as lay members, educators, leaders, and rabbis.
Sexual minorities are still widely denied equal protection under the law. Therefore, the LCSHJ advocates for the full and equal legal status of LGBT people and their families. Such equality must extend to civil rights and liberties, privacy, employment, residency, and citizenship rights, as well as familial rights relating to marriage or domestic unions and their dissolution, child custody and adoption, family insurance coverage, medical decisions and visitation, and inheritance and survivor benefits.
To serve all couples that seek out our services, the LCSHJ resolves that each ordained member is free and encouraged to perform marriages or civil unions of same-sex couples in states and provinces where they are legally recognized, and to officiate at commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples in those jurisdictions where such basic human rights are not yet granted.
Approved August 2004
Aid in Dying
Should rational, competent adults have the right to assistance in dying? We live in a world of longer lives and longer deaths, both made possible chiefly through great advances in medical science. Even palliative treatment at the end of life may be regarded by some persons afflicted by irreversible illness as prolonging suffering and death, rather than enhancing life.
As humanists, as Jews, and as philosophic counsellors, our respect for the autonomy and dignity of the individual and our compassion for one who is suffering, dictate that we must respect a considered request to end suffering, even if this entails the end of life. The Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews (“LCSHJ”) affirms the right of competent individuals to make responsible decisions regarding the most profound, private aspects of their own lives, free from interference and subject to regulation only to the extent necessary to provide appropriate safeguards. This fundamental principle must apply to a choice to hasten death in the face of terminal illness. Due regard should be given to the ethical and practical consequences of a decision to end life, particularly on family. Ultimately, however, the wishes of the person faced with terminal illness and suffering should take precedence.
The LCSHJ affirms that a competent adult having an irreversible medical condition and a reasonably ascertainable time of death, accompanied by unbearable suffering, should have the right to assistance in dying.
Persons making such a request should be fully informed of alternatives, such as differing modes of treatment and palliative care. They should likewise by fully informed as to methods that may be employed in rendering aid in dying. In order to ensure that alternatives to aid in dying are realistically available, the LCSHJ takes the position that there should be increased funding for palliative care, both for research and provision of services.
Adequate safeguards must be present to ensure that the request for aid in dying is serious, informed, and voluntary (free from undue influence,) i.e., that it is a rational request made by a competent person, and that the existence of a terminal condition has been ascertained by more than one medical opinion. Aid in dying should be rendered only under the direction of a licensed physician, one willing to participate in such treatment. If all required safeguards have been met, the request should be honoured, even if the person making the request has subsequently become incompetent.
Approved December 1995