Current Affairs

Gay rabbis now kosher

Tony Grew December 6, 2006
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The ruling body of American Conservative Judaism has come to a compromise over the ordination of gay rabbis.

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards held a two-day closed meeting in New York and yesterday presented three differing positions that may be adopted by Jewish seminaries across North America’s 750 synagogues.

The ruling also means that rabbis will be able to decide whether or not to bless gay relationships.

It will be left up to individual seminaries and synagogues to decide which position they will adopt. The first upholds the ban on gay rabbis. The second allows gay ordination but upholds the ban on sodomy. The third affirms the ban on gay relationships under Jewish law and says that gay should seek treatment to ‘cure’ them of their sexual orientation.

It is hoped that these three positions will be able to hold the American Jewish community together over this contentious issue. Many progressive rabbis actively embrace gay relationships and admit gay men into Rabbinical Studies programmes.

Conservative Jewish synagogues, who currently represent about 1000 ‘middle ground’ rabbis, are losing worshippers to both the liberal Reform synagogues and the Orthodox ones.

The decision by the committee may lead some of the more traditional congregations, especially in Canada, to migrate towards the Orthodox tradition. Four of the 25 rabbis on the committee resigned in protest at the change of attitude.

“Gays and lesbians will feel more at home in the Conservative Movement than they have been,” said Rabbi Alvin Berkun, president of the Rabbinical Assembly.

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