Admiral of Morality: Conservative Judaism takes first steps towards inclusion of gays and lesbians

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Conservative Judaism takes first steps towards inclusion of gays and lesbians

Will permit gay ordinations and blessings
While not all agree, leading rabbi says, "our community understands and appreciates the potential for having two opinions. It’s part of our culture"


(AP) Conservative Jewish scholars eased their ban Wednesday on ordaining gays, upending thousands of years of precedent while stopping short of fully accepting gay clergy.

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, which interprets religious law for the movement, adopted three starkly conflicting policies that nonetheless gave gays the chance to serve as clergy. Four committee members who wanted to uphold the ban on ordaining gays resigned in protest after the vote.

One policy upholds the prohibition against gay rabbis. Another, billed as a compromise, maintains a ban on male sodomy but permits gay ordination and allows blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. The third policy upholds the ban on gay sexual relationships in Jewish law and mentions the option for gays to undergo therapy aimed at changing their sexual orientation.

That leaves seminaries and synagogues to decide on their own which approach to follow.

It will also test what Conservative Jewish leaders call their "big tent" _ allowing diverse practices by the movement's more than 1,000 rabbis and 750 North American synagogues.

The 25-member panel made its decision in a two-day closed meeting in an Upper East Side synagogue. Students from a gay advocacy group at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the flagship school of Conservative Judaism, stood vigil nearby while the results were announced.

The Jewish Week, Reuters, and The New York Times have reports.

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