The associated press reports on next week’s meeting of the Conservative movement’s committee on Jewish law and standards (CJLS) in Baltimore. One of eight topics discussed will be ordaining homosexuals:
Traditional opposition to gay sex is based on Leviticus 18:22, “Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence,” and a similar verse, Leviticus 20:13.
Rabbi Joel Roth, a Conservative expert in Jewish law based in Israel, has said that ignoring these prohibitions “would undermine the integrity of the very legal system which stands as the unassailable foundation of our movement.”
But Rabbi Elliot Dorff, the committee vice chairman and rector of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, has argued that the verses in Leviticus refer to promiscuous sex, not monogamous relations between adults. He said telling gays to be celibate would be “cruel” and “un-Jewish” because Jewish tradition says sexual desires should be channeled into “legitimate modes of expression,” not completely suppressed.
It is important to note that the teshuvot (rabbinic rulings) supporting gay ordination have been written by members of the CJLS itself. Further, it takes only 6 of the committee’s 25 voting members to approve a teshuvah. If the teshuvah is passed, it will not require rabbinic ordination of homosexuals; rather it will allow for it within Conservative halakhah and the seminaries can choose to allow it or not. Currently, the (Conservative) Rabbinical Assembly does *not* revoke the membership of rabbis who come out.