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You Are Not My Rabbi: Chabad and The Marriage Equality Controversy

October 23, 2013 – 11:52 am32 Comments

By anonymous:

marriage equality2Editor’s note: I received an email from a concerned reader in Canberra who has asked me not to disclose his/her identity. He/she writes about the recent “Abrahamic faith leaders’ ” response to the ACT’s marriage equality legislation.

An interesting topic that has arisen here in the ACT vis a vis our same-sex marriage legislation:


Note that Rabbi Feldman (Chabad) identifies himself as Rabbi for Canberra and Goulburn – explicitly omitting the fact that he is the Chabad Rabbi (with [comparatively few] adherents) and is not representative of the ACT/Canberra Jewish community.

I suspect that a majority of the ACT members would not support such a position nor would they want him representing their position to the public.

I think it is important because the average person in Canberra wouldn’t know his exact situation/position and may assume that he is the religious authority for the community and/or that the community has sympathy for his views.

Although reasonable on the face of it, the call for community discussion is an attempt to delay a vote with the goal of trying to pressure ACT politicians through special interest groups to dump it.  (The vote has carried anyway).  I don’t believe that it is a good faith call to discuss the matter because they all oppose it doctrinally/ideologically.

It is also another example of the bad faith behaviour of Chabad in the ACT – they have form in misrepresenting themselves here and this is a problem for the community which has been ongoing for a long time.

An interesting point that should be looked at is their lobbying and interaction with official figures here – i.e. you see Chabad at just about every political soiree here in the ACT which involves religious matters despite them having no official position as representative of the community.  How much influence do they wield to get themselves on the invite lists consistently?  What are they peddling as a Jewish perspective?  No one knows for certain in the community but there have been clashes over turf in terms of responsibilities i.e. hospital visits etc.

It might be of value to publicise it to get a response from the community in relation to this – they have a duty to deal with this sort of thing.

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  • John says:

    It seems that this author has some qualms unrelated to his representation at formal events which he/she would like to vent. He is a Rabbi and as such has a job of representing Judaism to whichever place warrants it. He is not representing every community in the region. Should somebody else with a Rabbinical degree decide to be on the list he could not argue with them, but surely he has a right of representation.

  • Not Impressed says:

    I agree with John.

    Rabbi Feldman maybe Chabad, and he is, but his rabbinical degree is one that was earned like any other authentic rabbi that studies for it.

    He is entitled to use whatever power he has to express a Torah view on any given topic.

    If he can convince the politicians that since most major religions do not condone same sex marriage and should not be passed it as a law,until it condoned, then kudos to him.

    If two of the same sex want to have a relationship, then that is their choice, but to call it a marriage, which is originally a biblical term, is at odds with all major religions.

    Perhaps it should be called strictly a civil marriage, in which religion plays no role. But it is not a holy matrimony!

    I am just saying.

  • letters in the age says:


    I see drag queens are to be part of Christine Forsters wedding.

    Progressive jews like Dr Kerryn Phelps are great initiators of change

  • Sunshine says:

    To say that we should base marriage equality on a religious viewpoint, makes no sense.

    The most religious commit heinous crimes and more people gave died in the name of religion than anywhere else.

    We are a secular country. How one earth does marriage equality hurt a Rabbi?

  • Water of Life says:

    Sure anyone can have their say, but what right does anyone have to represent others.

    I could proclaim myself Chief Rabbi of Australia, it does not mean that I then have the right to speak on behalf of the Jewish community.

    It is unfortunate that Australian rabbis have used their positions over the past few days to bully their way into the public sphere to speak on behalf of a community who do not want them.

    There is no difference between these Chabad rabbis’ power grab and Emperor Norton.

  • Philip Mendes says:

    I suspect that very few people – Jews or otherwise – would take much notice of Chabad’s views on this topic. What is far more concerning has been the political and financial support Chabad has given over many years to the most extreme West Bank settlers in Hebron and elsewhere. This support has had a very negative impact on the well-being of Israelis, Palestinians, and the prospects for Middle East peace.

  • Not Impressed says:

    It’s not just the Rabbis, guys, it’s the Christian and Muslim clergy who have objected as well… go and tell them the same!
    Phillip. I beg to differ. You are either blind or extremely naïve.
    Chabad is listened to, on this topic and on other topics, and they do a lot of good worldwide.
    You obviously know very little about the activities of Chabad, except when they may do something that YOU don’t approve of, so, please keep your views about them to yourself.
    You are not qualified to criticize them!

  • Water of Life says:


    The beautiful irony is that Chabad are ideologically an anti-Zionist movement, who consistently take the most right wing position on every issue in Israel (the most right wing ballot box in Israel is Kfar Chabad).

    Not Impressed,

    Clearly you are worried about something, otherwise you would not be trying to shut down the debate.
    Why are you so fearful of these uncomfortable truths?

  • Avigael says:

    Chabad has been declared “Minium” (Heretic) by many Talmud Chachamin in Israel. They are in the same category as Reform and Conservative Rabbonim who are not authorised to speak on behalf of Jewry as far as Judaism is concerned.

    The fact that they continue to appoint themselves in positions of power is only noticed by those ignorant enough to accept it. They are irrelevant. Time for the Australian Community to come to grips with that reality.

  • Benseon Apple says:

    Avigael writes: “Chabad has been declared ‘Minium’ (Heretic) by many Talmud Chachamin in Israel.”

    Unfortunately, the accusation of heresy against various groups and individuals with whom one disagrees is widespread within both the litvish and chassidic worlds. As witnessed with the recent municipal elections in Israel, gedolim (or those speaking in their names) were quick to call other parties or their political candidates heretical. Saying that Chabad has been branded as heretical is therefore not anything unique – almost every sect or sub-sect within the charedi world has been branded as such at one time or another.

    Water of Life writes: “The beautiful irony is that Chabad are ideologically an anti-Zionist movement, who consistently take the most right wing position on every issue in Israel (the most right wing ballot box in Israel is Kfar Chabad).”

    While Chabad’s positions on land for peace are traditionally right wing, it is not correct to describe the group as “anti-Zionist”. In comparison to other virulently anti-Zionist charedi groups such as Toldos Aharon, Satmar and Neturei Karta, Chabad is downright radically progressive when it comes to Israel. Like many charedi groups, Chabad adopts a pragmatic approach to the state, actively participating in Israeli life while concurrently objecting to the more secular aspects of Zionist thought and governance.

  • Avigael says:

    It is well documented now what Chabad’s beliefs and goals are. To even claim now that they fit within Judaism is not only incorrect, there is a large body of evidence from Chabad to suggest otherwise, in addition to Chazals’ comments for similar groups.
    One example of many:

    Such comparisons are something which makes many Orthodox Jews uncomfortable. Scholar Mark Winer has noted that “The Lubavitcher movement’s suggestions that their late Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson is the Messiah, reflect Christian millenarianism.”[“Be Ready When the Great Day Comes”, Mark L. Winer; European Judaism, Vol. 37, 2004]

    Anthropologist Simon Dein has noted: “Lubavitchers held that the Rebbe was more powerful in the spiritual realm without the hindrance of a physical body. However some have now claimed that he never died. Several even state that the Rebbe is God. This is a significant finding. It is unknown in the history of Judaism to hold that the religious leader is God and to this extent the group is unique. There are certain Christian elements which apparently inform the messianic ideas of this group.” “Mosiach is here now: just open your eyes and you can see him” Simon Dein, Anthropology & Medicine, Volume 9, Number 1/April 01, 2002

    See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chabad_messianism for a very partical list of what many Chachaim and Researchers have to say.

    To suggest otherwise is delusional.

  • Not Impressed says:

    Your comments are so nonsensical that they are not worthy of a response.
    All I can say to you is, sit down with a normal Chabadnik ( not one of the minority crazies) and have a discussion with him or her.
    One fact you should be aware of is that there are hundreds of thousands of Chabadniks who are owners of homes in every corner of Israel, living productive lives, contributing to the Israeli economy,
    suffering from the terrorism of our enemies like everyone else in Israel, and yes quite a few are members of the IDF. They are all in Israel with the blessings of the late Rebbe zaetza”l.
    So all these critics of Chabad on here really don’t have an inkling of what they are about.

  • Water of Life says:

    Does the Chabad movement believe in the State or the Zionist enterprise? Speak to anyone who actually knows and understands the philosophy of Chabad and the answer is no. Their strong allegiance to the state is a based in practicality, ie how to influence an entity that currently exists.
    And you can be anti-Zionist without being insane. We are truly setting the bar low if Chabad are to lauded for being only the former.

  • Not Impressed says:

    Water of Life.
    It’s not a question of being anti- Zionist or otherwise.
    Zionism, strictly speaking is all about Tzion, which originally is a biblical and holy concept. One may even argue that secular and Zion are contradictory in terms.
    Israel is a HOLY land, and the passion of the people like Chabad is to maintain that idea and in practical terms as well.
    All this nonsense of a two state solution and peace with the Palestinians, is exactly that.
    They can’t make peace between themselves so they are going to make peace with Israel?????
    Have they ever offered any significant peace offering?
    It is outrageous to suggest that Chabad stands in the way of peace between us and the enemies.
    For a secular Jew, Israel bears no holiness, and therefore are happy to give away parts of it with the argument that it will bring peace….
    Yeah, right!
    It will make Israel so vulnerable that the mind boggles at the idea.

  • Water of Life says:

    So giving away land for peace is a secular thing. Just like R’Ovadiah Yosef who permitted it.

    There is no doubt that Messianism (Chabad’s new ‘ism that has only a passing relationship to Judaism) creates a group who are totally unwilling to compromise on anything, and any means will justify their ends.
    It is a simple one dimensional view of the world that is almost always wrong.
    If I may quote you from an earlier comment you “really don’t have an inkling of what they are about”

  • Michael Burd says:

    Whilst I am not a Follower of the Chabad movement I would think they appear to be the biggest growing sect within the Jewish community.

    I would think the fringe Progressive movement here are pretty irrelevant and would share most views to the other extremist movement the Greens who are equally irrelevant.

    There are a myriad of Jewish views on this controversial issue and each are entitled to their own opinion, there is no right or wrong.

  • Not Impressed says:

    @Water of life.
    I also repeat:
    Israel is a HOLY land, and the passion of the people like Chabad is to maintain that idea and in practical terms as well.
    R Ovadiah Yosef zt”l isn’t around now to explain his rationale.
    You move to Israel and live there and then you can have the right to express your views either way. Bu to sit from afar in the comfort and security of your home and not consider that the giving of land for the sake of peace ( with whom?) may endanger the lives of those living there, is an outright chuptzpah!
    And for your information, a recent survey indicated that the majority of Israelis do not agree to give up land that will jeopardize the security and defence of our bothers and sisters.
    Palestinians want it all and offer nothing in return.
    If you trust the Palestinians with their desire for peace ( on their terms , of course) by all means, Water of life, your are welcome to live with them.
    I accept the hibachi ruling that anything which threatens the safety of Israel IS WRONG!
    I have close family living there, they totally do not agree with you, Water of life.
    I know that they are in a better situation than you to give an opinion

  • Not Impressed says:

    Water of life, you need to check your mezuzot of your home to see if they are in fact kosher!

  • Water of Life says:

    Not Impressed, there are so many logical inconsistencies and simply idiotic statements in your comments, and I was thinking about how to respond to them.
    Then I read your comment telling me to check my mezuzot and I realized you have a complete break from reality.
    I see no purpose in engaging you further in conversation.

  • Not Impressed says:

    Water of life.
    And you accuse me of having a complete break from reality?
    Wow, that’s a mature response.
    I rest my case!
    So who is the one living in LaLa land?
    Never the less, check your mezuzot.
    No one need know about it.

  • Mortimer says:

    Another anti chabad article here. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

  • Mortimer, if you’d like to write a response to this article, or an article about the positive elements of Chabad, I’d be more than happy to publish it.

  • Shalom says:

    It would seem quite professional to publish a story from an unknown person putting down someone in the community. With all due respect, the rabbi’s response was in direct line of all orthodox communities in Australia, if not the world. Just a note to the author, who ever you are welcome to the real world. I could give a list of self appointed spokesman for the jewish community which this website loves to publish. Does everyone feel comfortable about certain people and their opinions. Get over it.

  • Avigael says:

    Kol HaKVod to Galus Australia for publishing material that other Chabad controlled websites in Australia refuse to publish – muzzling the population in the process. Shalom – Its called Free Speech, something that any healthy community has. Sadly due to pettiness and reprisals, it is necessary to have anonymous contributors.

  • Shalom says:

    Avigael, if you have a problem with Chabad great, hope you lose lots of sleep being green from envy as trust me Chabad does not lose any sleep because of you. What reprisals are you referring too, the worst things a chabad rabbi could do would be add you to their mailing list, send you a free mezuzah or even worse visit you… The author obviously like yourself has problem with accepting the orthodox stance relating to marriage equality and Chabad. Avigael where do you stand on these two issues? Credits to the editor as it serves as a double edge sword against orthodox and Chabad. It seems the author also suffers from jealousy, and a great lack of understanding of politics. Yes politicians also want people you do not like, and Chabad whether you like it or not have some following and politicians like those type of people… Get over it already…

  • Avigael says:

    Shalom, I will tell you what I object to. I object to Chabads pretence of following Judaism when they dont. I object to Chabad pretending to speak for the community when they dont. I object to minium (heretic) doctrine which states that The Rebbe is King, Judge and Ruler over all the Earth as is evidenced by their countless posters and other media they post all over the cities of the world. I object to worship of the Rebbe as God (Avodah Zarah). I object to Jews being taught to pray to the Rebbe instead of HaShem. I object to Chabad on behalf of Jewry running all over the place on Example: Succos getting Jews and non-Jews alike to wave Lulavs around and say the Bracha. I object to the covering up of child molestation in Chabad Schools. I object to the Fraudulant running of the Beth Dins by Chabad such as in Australia, as well as other places around the world. I object to the bullying they show in the community against Talmud Chachamin to the point of driving them out. I object to all the Jewish lives Chabad destroys through their corruption of power. I object to the extortion of money that Chabad run institutions plunder from the community, I object to the grand titles Chabad tickets itself with … like “Rabbi of the World” etc … You get the idea, the list is long.

    On “The Orthodox Stance on Marriage …” appears to be as cracked as Conservative or Reform – I dont see much difference in their viewpoint or application.

    My viewpoint is based on Chazal’s interpretation, as all Jewry are required by Law to do. Another fact that Chabad omits.

    I can assure you Jealousy or envy does not describe my attitude to Chabad. Outrage and the Insidious Evil is more accurate of my view.

    I support the Talmud Chachamin who correctly identify Chabad through their study of Chazal – that is a Minium group that has completely gone off the rails and destroying lives as a result.

  • david segal says:

    Not Impressed

    You wrote on October 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    And What do you call people that lives afar, never served even a day in the army, w who are accusing people that live in Israel, who served in the army all their lives, that think that giving of land for the sake of peace aren’t endangering the lives of those living there?

    And for your information, The only survey that counts, is the survey taken on the Election day, and when the people of Israel had chance to vote for the parties that object to give up land that “will jeopardize the security and defence of our brothers and sisters, but they didn’t.


    Was it because they didn’t know the “real” truth, or because they live in Israel, serve in the army, and realized that hanging on to land, is doing nothing for their security.

  • Shalom says:

    Avigael, with all that you say I admit defeat. You are 100% correct in all that you assume about Chabad. If you only you had of stated all that previously, I would not have even commented. Thank you Avigael for enlightening us. Lets work together to eradicate the Chabad from this world.

  • TheSadducee says:


    The point of this article was not Rabbi Feldman’s views on same-sex marriage. He is entitled to them and to express them and no one is against that point. (Although people can disagree with his views of course)

    The objection was to the fact that he stated that he was “Rabbi for Canberra and region”. There is no such position and is his own title that he has claimed for himself.

    The title also ignores the existing community (Canberra Jewish community) which is well established and is made up of orthodox, progressive and secular Jews – which have differing views on the subject.

    The fact that he claimed this title implied to the average reader that he was a spiritual leader for Jews in Canberra and region, without clarifying that he is actually the spiritual leader for a minority sectarian movement which is not part of the mainstream Canberra Jewish community.

    The fact that he has misleadingly portrayed himself has caused the Canberra Jewish community to official respond to his claim – they aren’t in opposition to his views, rather his misleading portrayal of his position.

    The rest of the article is concerned with the fact that this movement, which has a tiny number of adherents in Canberra, punches well above its weight in terms of representation at official events.

    You do not see representatives from every Christian sect at government/official events and the questions are why is that and why is Chabad given preference over other sects which have more members in the ACT?

    I would also add that Chabad, like anyone else, are entitled to their opposition to same-sex marriage – however, what right do they have to tell non-Jews, and non-orthodox Jews as well, what they can do in their private lifes in the secular state?

    They can oppose same-sex marriage in their own community, but don’t extend their views on everyone else – that is oppression.

  • Shalom says:

    The Sadducee
    Now it makes sense this is an official response from the Jewish community of Canberra from an unnamed person.
    At the end of the day, you just do not like Chabad “.”
    He is if I am not mistaken the only practicing rabbi in the region, which would make him the rabbi of the region. That though just sounds way too simple.
    I believe he was joined by other leaders of other faiths in telling the entire secular society which do not associate with any of those faiths what to do. But it is the Chabad I think which annoys most people here.
    And just to put it out there, Chabad Australia and world wide has quite a political punch I would believe that a representative of Chabad in the ACT would mean to politicians a little bit more than a rabbi of a small synagogue in the ACT. But that would also be too simple to understand. I guess it just annoys some people “Chabad”.
    Wouldn’t Judaism be so much better off with out Chabad…

  • Zephaniah Waks says:

    Yes Shalom, The Sadducee has it all wrong, certain parts of Chabad are really wonderful.

  • Avigael says:

    The point of irk is that Chabad claims to represent Judaism when they dont. They are further from Torah than most and do not have a right to speak on this. Another recent video is publically displaying their worship of the Rebbe and a call to Jews not to eat and drink on Yom Kippur. Not even the tip of the iceburg. Chabad is a FRAUD and should be treated as such and all positions of authority in Judaism rescinded. You do NOT Speak for Jewry, Torah or the Klal so STOP pretending that you do. You should be jailed for what you are doing.
    Despite you own self importance through your ‘policital connections’ well guess what ? The politicians think you are scum along with the rest of the community that has a brain. Rightly so.

    One out of many disgusting examples:

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