Religion, Sex & Gender

Keshet JTS Press Release on Upcoming Conservative Movement Vote

For Immediate Release
December 1, 2006
email: [email protected]
Jewish Seminary Group Calls on Conservative Movement to Ordain Gay and Lesbian Rabbis
New York, NY—Keshet, the organization of Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) community members advocating for the full equality of Jews of all sexual orientations in the Conservative Movement, has issued a call to the movement demanding that it allow the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis immediately. In a historic moment, the movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards is poised to meet next week to reconsider its current policies that deny gay Jews the right to commitment ceremonies and ordination as rabbis and cantors.
Sarah Freidson, a second-year rabbinical student and co-chair of Keshet declared, “The Conservative Movement must ordain gay and lesbian rabbis. It’s the just thing to do, and it’s the Jewish thing to do.”
Keshet has planned a full day and a half of learning, prayer, and dialogue to coincide with the meetings. Said Freidson, “Our movement will be strengthened by the complete inclusion of gay and lesbian Jews, just as it was by granting equality to women two decades ago. In fact, if the status quo doesn’t change, some students have talked of leaving our seminaries, and some congregants have suggested they will leave our synagogues. We hope and pray that the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards does what’s best for the movement and allows for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in Conservative Judaism.”
There is concern that procedural maneuvering will prevent change to the current policy. Freidson condemned this approach. “These decisions deserve a fair vote on the merits of each paper alone.”
Freidson continued, “Gay and lesbian people were created in the image of God, too. The medical and psychological communities agree that homosexuality is not a disease. It’s time for the Conservative movement to stop stigmatizing God’s people, and to start loving our neighbors as ourselves, as we are commanded in the Torah.”
Rabbi Judith Hauptman, the E. Billi Ivry Professor of Talmud and Rabbinic Culture at JTS stated, “The genius of the system of Jewish law (halakha) as developed by the rabbis of old, is that ongoing interpretation is built into it. One need not go outside the system to change it.”
Keshet believes that inclusion will create a richer diversity of voices and experiences and bring back the gay and lesbian Jews, their friends and families, and others who have left the movement because of its discriminatory policies.
Aaron Weininger, a college senior who identifies as a gay Conservative Jew, said, “I’ve known I wanted to be a rabbi since high school. But when I realized I was gay, I soon discovered that the movement I called home rejected a core part of my identity. I pray for the day when Conservative seminaries will admit all qualified candidates. The narratives of human experience must embolden the ethical intent of Jewish law.”
Jay Michaelson, a former youth leader who left Conservative Judaism because of its policy on gay and lesbian Jews, said: “I care about this issue because I spent a decade denying my sexuality. I know that the repression of homosexuality leads to lies, deceit, self-hatred, and self-mutilation, while the expression of it leads to love, stability, family, and sanctity. Which are the more Jewish values?”
# # #

6 thoughts on “Keshet JTS Press Release on Upcoming Conservative Movement Vote

  1. This is beautiful. You guys remind me why I do actually love the Jewish community. I’m grateful for whomever has been organized, brave, and patient enough to keep a group like this going. I’m not big on the patience thing myself, but it may have led to healthy change in this case. I’m grateful to keshet for this statement.

  2. It is nice to see that Keshet affirms our belief that our LBGT sisters and brothers are real life people. Queers in the flesh.
    We are concerned that the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) at the Jewish Theological Seminary – the board that will be meeting to discuss “the halakhic status of homosexual behavior” on December 5 and 6 – might not get that.
    When explaining the decision making process, the Rabbinical Assembly states: “Before the December meetings, each member will have received and had a chance to reflect on and react to a group of papers arguing different sides of the question. In December, the Committee will meet to discuss the papers, at which time it will vote to establish some legislation on the matter.”
    It seems that the committee will be discussing “papers,” not people.
    As the meetings fast approach, we remind these individuals that the Conservative Movement claims an “undimished devotion to…the ultimate significance of every single Jew” as stated in The Core Values of Conservative Judaism. We hope they don’t avoid another opportunity for justice by replacing humanity with legalese and bureaucracy.
    On December 5 and 6, as always, we will be watching.
    Sexism is a Sin.
    Miriam the Prophet from Jewish Women Watching

  3. Ah, papers. Well it is well to discuss papers, provided the papers deal with people and feelings as well as laws and policies and rituals and dogma and all other things.
    I wonder if, among the papers, is Dear David. A Halakhic Investigation of Homosexual Relationships? I do hope so. It’s quite a technical paper. In case my html is not valid, look at to find it.
    I looked on http://www.keshetrabbis.orgM/a>. So many thinking rabbis, so many who care about those of us who discovered to our shock and perplexity that we were homosexual. How good to see so many names.
    How much I hope to see the outcome on the 6th in favour of gay ordination, and of celebrating gay marriages/partnerships.

  4. arrrrgh. Sorry about the link. It goes to the right place at least! Now if this system ponly had a preview page…….

  5. Surprise !!!! A gread day for the Conservative Movement!! The asylum is being run by the inmates. Or, in this case the school JTS by the students.
    Instead of getting an education and becoming rabbium, these would-be rabbium have fought hard to overturn 3000 years of “unambiguous” legal precedent.
    I’m not surprised that we have found such a simple answer to such a complex question, when we consider the great minds that have come foreward in favor of this decision. The Conservative Movement has debated on this question for years yet the uneducated and, may I add, Jewishly ignorant, student know the answer.
    How, pray tell does a responsa vote over rule halacha???? The only answer, obviously, is that there is no respect, understanding, or knowledge of halacha.
    Next …. make pork kosher! All it takes is a vote. I’m sure we can find some Jewish pork producers who will give us an honest hearing and vote. Yes, I’m speaking of rabbi Dorff, who had his own axe to grind and should have reclused himself. Made his decision before the responsa based on personal “feelings.” Real integrity!!!
    Sadly, this decision is so very far out of step with the rest of Jewish halacha that it will have a recourse. The Jews who pay for the Conservative Movement (i.e. Synagogue members) and beleive strongly in halacha are at best, appalled.
    In my synagogue, former President Judy Yudolf’s own synagogue, a respected president has resigned and members have quit (read that as no support and no dues) over the “commitment ceremony.” I can only imagine how everyone will be pleased over the homosexual “marriage” ceremonies etc.
    No, this isn’t the stake through the heart of Judaism. Nor is it the end of Conservative Judaism. It is however, the complete divergence of Conservative Judaism from halacha, and it was this halacha that gave the Conservative Movement its validity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.