JERUSALEM — The Israeli lawmaker had gone on the radio to promote a new single by his daughter, a singer, and to show a more liberal and hipper face of his party, the ultra-Orthodox Shas.
But after the lawmaker, Yigal Guetta, revealed in the radio interview that he had attended the wedding of a gay nephew, his chatty appeal to a broader audience of potential Shas voters appeared to backfire. Rabbis and party activists revolted and demanded that he resign.
Under pressure from the critics, Mr. Guetta, 51, told Aryeh Deri, the party leader, this week that he was resigning, and Mr. Deri agreed. But many Israelis have since expressed outrage that the rabbis and the party would put strict adherence to Jewish law and prejudice above family unity.
Mr. Guetta is now in negotiations with the Shas Party’s council of sages who are said to be less upset about his attendance at the wedding than his disclosure of that information in the radio interview.
A compromise appears to be emerging in which Mr. Guetta would apologize for giving the interview, though not for attending the wedding, and would retain his place in the party and his seat in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
To formally resign he would have to write to the Knesset chairman, a step he has not taken yet.
Mr. Guetta did not answer his cellphone or respond to text messages on Thursday, and the Shas Party was not commenting on the episode publicly. But Shas officials said privately that they hoped the compromise would happen and put an end to the story.
The wedding took place two years ago, before Mr. Guetta had entered Parliament.
Same-sex marriage is not officially recognized in Israel, nor is any mechanism of civil marriage, with the strictly Orthodox-controlled state rabbinate maintaining a monopoly on Jewish weddings. But some Israelis bypass the restrictions by holding ceremonies of their choice and formalizing their civil union with lawyers, or by marrying abroad.
Gays are welcomed in the Israeli military and are open about their sexual orientation in politics and other spheres. Tel Aviv, in particular, has a reputation as a gay-friendly destination and Israel has often promoted its tolerance toward the LGBT community as a beacon of pluralism and tolerance compared to some of its enemies, like Iran.
But some sectors of Israeli society, including the ultra-Orthodox, view homosexuality as an abomination. One Shas lawmaker, Shlomo Benizri, once blamed a minor earthquake that was felt across Israel on “homosexual activity practiced in the country.”
So it came as a bit of a bombshell when Mr. Guetta told Army Radio on Aug. 29, “Here’s a scoop, hold on tight.” He went on to relate that he had declined his gay nephew’s request for a blessing under the chuppa, or marriage canopy, but continued, “We all went to the wedding, me, my wife and all my children.” He told his children their attendance was mandatory, he said, though he also emphasized to them that such a wedding was forbidden under Jewish law.
The scandal has been brewing since. In a Sept. 6 post on his Facebook page, Mr. Guetta wrote: “I would like to clarify that a handful of people are trying to spread some twisted things in my name, as if I gave legitimacy to forbidden acts. This is a lie and a distortion.” He wrote that he had declared in the interview, and was declaring again, that such things — without naming them — were an “abomination” according to the Torah.
The uproar has engendered a debate among Shas supporters over whether strict adherence to the letter of Jewish law should supersede other traditional Jewish values, including the sanctity of the family. Many Shas voters are traditional Mizrahi, eastern Jews whose families came from Arab countries, and who are not as strictly Orthodox as their party leaders. They have voted Shas over the years for social and economic reasons, believing that the party best represents the interests of the Mizrahi portion of Israel’s Jewish population against the old-guard Ashkenazi elite from Europe.
The religious culture embraced by Mizrahi Jews “opens its doors not only to a chosen few but also to the masses of people, each of whom seeks to be observant according to their own capabilities,” Roi Lachmanovich, a former strategic adviser and spokesman for Shas, wrote in the Maariv newspaper on Thursday. “The party turned its back on a huge sector of the public that does not at all wish to concede on the importance of family.”
Others pointed to what they called the hypocrisy of the Shas leadership, given that Mr. Deri, the party leader, and Mr. Benizri, who no longer sits in Parliament but who criticized Mr. Guetta, have both served prison terms for financial corruption.
“They were in prison and got out and all of a sudden they are OK?” Suzy Ben Zvi, Mr. Guetta’s sister and the mother of the groom, told Maariv. She said Mr. Guetta had arrived after the ceremony and stayed an hour, out of respect for the family.
“God will repay all the Shas saints for what they did to him,” Mrs. Ben Zvi continued. Describing her brother as a wise man who did something noble, she added, “The tradition of family is the holiest tradition in Judaism.”