Sexuality Education


Adopted by the CCAR


Adopted by the 114th Annual Convention

of the Central Conference

of American Rabbis

Omni Shoreham, Washington D.C.





texts and tradition often discuss the topic of sexuality. Ranging from

the Song of Songs, the most explicit writing in the Torah, to very

specific discussions of the laws of family, our holy texts recognize,

often celebrate, sexuality as a necessary and crucial part of life and

development. Further, our modern practice of Judaism views sexuality,

and its ultimate goal of a healthy and committed relationship, as a

matter of religious concern.

In a report to the 1998 Central Conference of American Rabbis

(CCAR) convention, the Ad Hoc Committee on Human Sexuality stated that

“Jewish religious values are predicated upon the unity of God and the

integrity of the world and its inhabitants as divine creations. These

values identify — wholeness — as a fundamental goal of human

experience. The Hebrew root (shin,

lamed, mem) expresses the ideal of wholeness, completeness, unity,

and peace. Sexuality and sexual expression are integral and powerful

elements in the potential wholeness of human beings.” Sexuality is a

part of what it means to be human.

In 1977, Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) urged its Sisterhoods

“to include family planning and sex education” in their programs.

Later, in 1987, the CCAR adopted a comprehensive resolution, “On Sex

Education in the Schools,” addressing both sexuality education in the

schools and youth programs of the Reform Movement and in the public

schools. These resolutions all call for disseminating accurate

educational materials.

Experience with the Reform Movement’s youth programs indicates

that Reform Jewish youth are as sexually active as their peers. In

addition, every scientific study that breaks down participants by

religion shows the same results. Just as importantly, at programs such

as the L’Taken seminars and NFTY conventions, workshops

dealing with topics of sexuality fill quickly. Our youth are asking

questions, and they are looking to us for guidance.

Studies show that the availability of

accurate information about reproduction, sexually transmitted

diseases, and contraception have been demonstrated to have a positive

impact on curbing adolescent pregnancy and the incidence of sexually

transmitted disease1. Yet, beginning in

1998, and continuing until 2002, a federal appropriation of $50

million per year has been made available to states to support

“abstinence-only” programs, which teach that physical and emotional

harm are likely to result from premarital sex, and which cannot be

used for dissemination of more complete information about

reproduction, sexually transmitted disease, and contraception2. Further, every $4 the government provides must

be matched by $3 from the state, thus increasing the amount of money

spent on abstinence-only programs to $88 million per year3. Allocating money in this way diverts funds from

the more effective and broader-based “abstinence-plus” programs,

which encourage abstinence while teaching accurate information about

sexuality, reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, and



Central Conference of American Rabbis resolves to:

Encourage the UAHC and its departments and

affiliates to work with synagogue schools, day schools, camps, and

youth groups of our movement to:

Offer all our members courses and programs appropriate to each

age level built on Jewish values, emphasizing the role of sexuality in

the context of healthy committed relationships, and provide

comprehensive sexuality education including objective information

about reproduction, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases,

contraception, sexual orientation, and other issues of sexuality; and

Provide tools and

educational materials for parents, to assist them when they talk to

their children about these issues; and

Support federal, state, provincial, and local

legislation to provide for the inclusion of comprehensive and age-

appropriate sexuality education in the public schools on all levels

(from grade school through high school), while opposing federal,

state, provincial, and local funding exclusively for abstinence-only



A 1997 United Nations report, entitled “Impact of

HIVand Sexual Health Education on the Sexual Behavior of Young

People,” examined 22 HIV/AIDS and abstinence-plus sexuality education

programs and found that the programs delayed the onset of sexual

activity, reduced the number of partners, and decreased the incidence

of sexually transmitted disease and unplanned pregnancy.


History and

Mission, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and

Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services



D. Daley.

“Exclusive purpose: abstinence-only proponents create federal

entitlement in welfare reform.” SIECUS Report 1997; 25(4):3-