Special Needs Jewish Marriages

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I just found this strange article at UPI.com about special needs couples in Israel being allowed to marry. Since the article is short, here it is in full:

Mentally challenged Jewish couples to wed

JERUSALEM, June 23 (UPI) — Four special needs couples will be allowed to marry, rabbis in Israel’s Jewish ultra-orthodox community have decided. huppa2.JPG

The Yedioth Aharonoth reported until now the ultra-orthodox community has barred mentally challenged or couples with special needs from marrying, fearing they will be unable to fulfill their matrimonial obligations in accordance with Jewish law.

The newspaper said ultra-orthodox rabbis distinguish between those who lack all comprehension, and those who have basic comprehension and are able to observe Jewish law, the Ynetnews.com Web site said.

The four couples permitted to marry fall under the latter category, Yedioth Aharonoth said.

This whole thing is slightly offensive and very very strange, but I’m most concerned about the “matrimonial obligations” line. Is the implication that mentally challenged couples won’t be able to have sex?

Ultimately, this just makes me very very sad.

Posted on June 23, 2009

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