Toronto shul votes in favour of same-sex marriage
By FRANCES KRAFT Thursday, 25 June 2009
TORONTO - The First Narayever Congregation - an unaffiliated, traditional egalitarian synagogue and the largest shul in downtown Toronto - has voted overwhelmingly in favour of its rabbi officiating at same-sex marriages. Of 175 voters on the same-sex marriage issue, which took place at the congregation’s annual general meeting June 14, 164 people - 93.7 per cent - voted in favour, effective immediately.
No same-sex marriages are currently booked at the synagogue, but an aufruf is scheduled for next month. The couple will be married elsewhere by a friend, said Rabbi Ed Elkin, the Narayever’s spiritual leader since 2000.
The Brunswick Avenue congregation, which began life as an Orthodox synagogue and was revitalized in the 1970s when the egalitarian services were first held, first faced the same-sex marriage issue when a lesbian couple approached Rabbi Elkin shortly after he became the shul’s rabbi to ask if he would officiate at their wedding.
Instead of making a unilateral announcement, he “wanted to lead the congregation to a point where they were comfortable with it,” the rabbi said in an interview.
The synagogue’s board then struck a committee to examine the question of same-sex marriage.