Rabbis Dorff, Epstein and Roth jointly spoke in Toronto, Canada during 2006-AUG and later traveled together to Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. 1
Ordination of homosexual rabbis and recognition of relationships approved, sort of:
On 2006-DEC-06 the 25-member Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards issued a series of advisory reports. 5 Committee spokesperson Rabbi Kassel Abelson said:
Their reports will allow both the more liberal and more orthodox leaders in the movement to pursue different paths.
Rabbi Elliot Dorff of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles said each of the rabbinical schools would hold separate discussions on the reports. He said:
Rabbi Joel Meyers, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, said rabbis who so desire could start performing commitment ceremonies recognizing gay relationships immediately.
Four members of the committee resigned after the reports were issued. They opposed the methods used to reach the conclusions in the reports. 2
Reactions to the decision:
According to the Virtual Talmud on Beliefnet, some leaders of the conservative movement felt that the decision of the committee to approve two opposing positions -- one allowing and one prohibiting same-sex sexual activity -- "was a failure of will or moral rectitude."
Many Orthodox critics suggest that the Conservative movement has abandoned its committment to halakhah (Jewish law).
The Virtual Talmud notes there is a gulf between strict and loose constructionalists:
The author of the Virtual Talmud considers the lack of consensus by the committee as a positive outcome. He notes that the dual decisions of the committee have left the ultimate decisions up to each locality. Many rabbis, congregations, and individuals will now study, dialogue, debate and finally reach conclusions on their "stand on the continuum of Jewish interpretation and practice" regarding homosexuality. 4
Jewish opinion survey:
Arnold Eisen, a professor at Stanford University and the incoming chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), commissioned a study of Conservative Jewish leaders. Steven Cohen, a sociologist at the Hebrew Union College volunteered to conduct the survey. It was mailed to 18,676 Conservative rabbis, cantors, seminary students, and lay and professional leadership. 4,861 responded. An additional 722 responded via a web site.
The survey showed that about two-thirds of Conservative rabbis and cantors believe that the JTS should admit gay and lesbian students for rabbinical study. Results were slightly higher among lay and professional leadership, and slightly lower among student rabbis and cantors. Similar results were obtained on the question of rabbis officiating at same-sex commitment ceremonies.
The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California commented:
U.S. Conservative seminary open to gay students; Israeli seminary remains closed:
In late 2007-MAR, the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York City -- described as "the flagship seminary of Conservative Judaism," announced that it would accept openly gay and lesbian students. A vote by the JTS faculty produced results similar to the opinion survey mentioned above: most professors favored an inclusive admissions policy.
Arnold Eisen, chancellor-elect of the JTS commented:
The Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, the main west coast seminary, recently announced that it had accepted its first two openly gay students.
Rabbi Einat Ramon, dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem announced on MAR-27 that her seminary would remain closed to gay and lesbian students. She said:
She stated that she believes that homosexuality is a chosen behavior, not a fixed sexual orientation.
Rabbi Andrew Sacks, director of the Israeli branch of the Rabbinical Assembly expects that the seminary ruling will be a temporary one. He said:
Schism by Canadian Conservative Judaism may result:
Forward, a Jewish daily, reported:
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