The following statement was submitted anonymously to
As a Rabbinical student in one of the Conservative Movement Rabbinical Schools, spending the year studying in Israel at the Schechter Institute, I am both proud and ashamed of my Movement in regard to the handling of the decision as to whether we will accept Gays.
On December 6, we have been told, the Law Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly (the organization of Conservative rabbis) will hand down decisions on the Halachic permissibility of ordaining Out Gays. The presumption is that at least two opinions will be accepted as valid. Perhaps more than two if the political machinations of the traditionalist fail. It seems there will be an effort to declare two Tshuvot (legal responsum), one by Rabbi Gordon Tucker and one by Rabbis David and Robert Fine, to be Takanot and hence require more than six votes to be accepted. The procedure for declaring a Tshuva to be a Takana does NOT appear in the constitution of the Rabbinical Assembly and has been introduced by those seeking to hijack a process long in place and prevent progress in this area.
In any case it is thought that a traditional Tshuva (by Rabbi Joel Roth) and a more progressive Tshuva by Rabbis Dorf, Nevins, and Resiner will obtain the necessary six votes. This will mean that all Conservative Rabbinical Schools will be allowed to ordain Gays. The Zeigler School (University of Judaism) has announced that if the progressive Tshuva is accepted, they will immediately accept Gay applicants. The Chancellor elect of the Jewish Theological Seminary has put in place a process to help JTS come to a decision. While he is not a rabbi, Professor Arnie Eisen is on record as supporting ordination of Gays.
I am proud of my Movement for having the courage to struggle with this issue. We have the only group of rabbis who are struggling with the difficult seeming conflict between Jewish Law, as it has been traditionally understood, and the need for Jewish Law to evolve through interpretation.
I am proud of the University of Judaism for taking a stand that will surely be unpopular with many of our members.
I am proud of the forty JTS students who stood outside of the gates of the institution, last week, with mouths covered by tape to protest the silencing of Gays in our Movement.
I am proud of Professor Eisen for taking a firm stand when it is almost certain to offend many donors to JTS.
I am proud of the students here in Israel who sported stickers at the ordination of Israeli Conservative rabbis, that said “Rabbinic Ordination for All” on a rainbow flag background.
I am proud of the 270 Gay friendly Conservative rabbis who have signed on to
Yet I am also ashamed.
I am ashamed that it has taken us so long to reach this day. Perhaps that is the price of membership in a movement that prefers evolutionary change to revolutionary change.
I am ashamed at what was the clear effort of the outgoing Chancellor, Ismar Schorsch, to stack the Law Committee with appointments of people who have little sympathy for Conservative Judaism beyond taking a paycheck and fails to express concern for the pain his position causes to so many.
I am ashamed of the dean of the Israeli Rabbinical School, Rabbi Einat Ramon, who in an Haaretz article last week accused those who are more liberal on the issue of Gay ordination, of “intellectual totalitarianism.” Indeed the head of the Schechter Institute, Rabbi David Golinkin called the entire matter of Gay ordination irrelevant for Israelis (this after the near riots concerning the Jerusalem Pride Parade and the registration of married Gay couples).
I am ashamed that the Movement is willing to allow Rabbi Joel Roth to author the traditional opinion considering his sordid sexual past (see “Joel Roth” in the Wikipedia online encyclopedia).
So I am proud and I am ashamed. But I hope that come December 6, I will say with pride, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be happy and rejoice today.”