Religion, Sex & Gender, Uncategorized

UJ Students' Letter to The Law Committee on Gay Vote

As most of you know, the legal arm of the Conservative movement is meeting this week to discuss five tshuvot regarding the status of gays and lesbians in the movement–three advocating a change in policy, two affirming the status quo.
The Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards has decided to open portions of the deliberations to Conservative rabbis, cantors, and rabbinical and cantorial students. Anybody in New York attending the deliberations (Rooftopper Rav?), please give us an update on Tuesday!
In any case, the following letter was sent this week to members of the CJLS, signed by more than three-quarters of the rabbinical students at the University of Judaism. It was sent by Dror Yikra, the UJ rabbinical student organization that’s been pushing for a change in the status of gays and lesbians in the movement.


Dear Rabbi __________,
We are rabbinical students at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, eagerly anticipating the December meeting of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. As future rabbis, we feel bound by the tenets of halakhah and moved by the ethical challenges posed by our new scientific knowledge and modern understandings of sexual orientation. We are also painfully aware of the real harms that the traditional stance has wrought on Jewish gays and lesbians and their families. We believe that there is a halakhically acceptable way for our movement to ordain gays and lesbians and for our rabbis to consecrate their love through Jewish commitment ceremonies. We look to you, our rabbis and teachers, to continue the Conservative movement’s tradition of creatively and courageously engaging our halakhic process in order to meet the moral challenges of our times — in this case, to create new
possibilities for the complete inclusion of gays and lesbians in our movement. The time for this is now – we cannot wait any longer.
May your deliberations be filled with compassion and honesty as you work to make our Jewish communities places that are marked by righteousness and kedushah.

8 thoughts on “UJ Students' Letter to The Law Committee on Gay Vote

  1. I am not impressed. It seems that the conservative movement is more interested about ordaining gays than helping real people with real problems.

  2. Amit’s point is interesting, and well made. “Real People” are the matter at hand here. Real people include the 10% that Kinsey says are homosexual. Real people are doctors, lawyers, rabbis, teachers, students, janitors.
    Of those who are homosexual, many wish to make commitments to their partners and to receive the acknowledgement of their communuity and their rabbi.
    Of those who wish to be rabbis, some – 10%? – are likely to be homosexual.
    These are real people, with real problems. One of their real problems, Amit, is people who feel they are not worthy of consideration by people who express opinions like this simply because they are homosexual.
    You have met many homosexual people in your life. It’s just that they never told you, and you never even guessed. Should they have to hide all their lives because people like you do not view them as Real People?
    Homosexuality is not the be all and end all of soemone’s life. It is simply an immutable part of them and is wholly to do with their needs for love and yes, for sexual partnership. And those thiongs are both priovate, for sex is a priavte matter, and public, because love is obvious in someone’s eyes.
    THere are many truly great rabbis who are closeted homosexuals. How much better coudl they be if they felt able to be open about themselves? How much better woudl they be as teachers, as peopke who assist their congregants, all congregants?
    So, Anmit;s point is interesting. And did I say “well made”?
    I did. He made the point of bigotry well.

  3. “I am not impressed. It seems that the conservative movement is more interested about ordaining gays than helping real people with real problems.”
    The Conservative Movement is notorious for breaking with tradition to suit the political mood of the day. And then 15 years later, when their pews are still empty, they kvetch about hasty decisions and the eroding of the movement.

  4. 10% of the people who want to be Rabbis are gay. That is very nice. they should be helped. I didn’t say in any way that they should or should not be ordained.
    What I did say is that there are more pressing concerns for Jews today, except Jews don’t really like to dabble in them. Many Jews are employers. How many of them pay proper wages? Many Jews are importers/exporters. are any restrictions placed upon *them* regarding child labor, usury, commercial ethics, etc? Many Jews support the occupation. how many of them does the C. Movement condemn?
    The “ordination regardless of orientation” essentially means that everyone deserves to be paid as a professional Jew, and I don’t really have a problem with that. I have a problem with making *such* a big deal out of this trade-unionist dispute that it eclipses the fact that there are bigger and better problems religious leadership should be tackling.
    I am not a bigot. I just have priorities. The “suffering” of those gays and lesbians who want to be rabbis is, well, nothing compared to the suffering of kids in china, single working mothers, and the palestinians. Oh, and the Jewish poor as well. Gay ordination is “öøåú ùì òùéøéí”, and we, alas, are poor.

  5. I misinterepreted Amit’s remarks as bigotry. I apologise completely. I see more clearly now where Amit is comng from.
    I do not argue that there will always be other things that are more important than whatever is on the table. It happens that this issue is on the table now. And, since it is on the table, it makes sense to push for it, if that is what one desires.
    I will be happt that the other issues stated are resooved also, if it is in our power to do so. Let;s table those, or return to when they were tabled, and deal with them, one by one, and with whichever is the most urgent at the head of the queue.
    Meanhwile let us get this one out of the way and both ordain homosexual rabbis as simple, ordinary rabbis. And let us celebrate homnosexual commitments as valid, too.
    In reality homosexuality is a small thing. It should never have become a big issue. It’s just people. There are far more important things in a homosexual perosn’s life than their orientation. Solve this minor issue and free them to help with the major ones.

  6. As one of the students who signed this letter, let me assure you that I and many of my colleagues in the Conservative Movement are deeply concerned with issues of social and economic justice both here in the USA and around the world. It is precisely for this reason that we want to finally put this issue to rest. The question sitting before the CJLS has been languishing for at least 15 years. The discrimination against gays and lesbians in our movement does indeed cause a lot of real people to suffer. But, it isn’t about ordination or commitment ceremonies per se. Homophobia is the current frontier in the movement for freedom and civil rights in America. The question before is: what side of this debate will we fall on? Do we take the knowledge of modern science, sociology, and psychology seriously, or do we cast our lot in with fundamentalist forces that insist on living life with blinders on. It is a credit to our movement that we have a deliberate and thoughtful process for making change while working within the halakhic system. In the long run, it is this thoughtfulness that will help us deal with this and other pressing problems that face us.

  7. Amit your points are well taken. I am sure you are not surprised to be called a bigot for disagreeing.
    Do you Keshet and UJ folks honestly think this is a compelling issue for the Jew in the Pew? Have you bothered to ask?
    Do you think that homophobia is so widespread in the Conservative Jewish movement that this radical halakhic change is justified?

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