Admiral of Morality: Leading Jewish seminary okays gay students

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Leading Jewish seminary okays gay students

The Jewish Theological Seminary, the flagship institution of Conservative Judaism, said Monday it will start accepting gay and lesbian applicants, paving the way for gay and lesbian Conservative rabbis. The decision comes after scholars who guide the movement lifted the ban on gay ordination, The AP reports.

The Conservative branch holds the middle ground in American Judaism, adhering to tradition while allowing some change for modern circumstances.

The larger and more liberal Reform Jewish movement, as well as the smaller Reconstructionist wing, allow gays to become rabbis; the Orthodox branch bars gays and women from ordination.

Many opposed to openly gay and lesbian clergy at all levels, and blessings of their relationships (with or without official rites) justify their opposition on one line in the Torah and ancient Judaic traditions. We can only guess how they will continue to justify their opposition using that passage and those traditions, when the leading wings of Judaism now read their own Torah and tradition, as compatible with openly gay and lesbian rabbis.

The complete AP story can be read here.

A New York Times article, with brief reference to The Episcopal Church, is now available.


Anonymous clumber said...

I posted this over at the blog A Guy in the Pew, but I think this December story has better detail and is perhaps more illustrative of the tensions that were at play when the decision was made.

Notice they both approved and banned homosexual rabbis, and have effectively left it at the local level to sort things out. Also, 4 of the 25 members of the commission resigned.

Now one seminary has spoken, but again, note that each seminary can decide for itself what its position is.

Interesting ambiguity going on there!

3/27/2007 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger Chuck Blanchard said...

The entire Eisen letter is well worth a read for its analysis of how JTS reached its conclusions. It can be found at One of the commenters on my blog, an observant Jew noted that "The key pivot is that Jewish tradition has found "work arounds" lots of other Biblical prohibitions such as stoning to death disrepectful children. It is only over the course of the last half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st that this particular prohibition has come under the same focus. The willingness to reexamine is the key to having a viable religious life in a secular world."

3/28/2007 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger The AoM said...


That "key pivot" sounds alot like reason.


Yes, that article you cite does provide more color; there's an entry about it on the blog here (search should find it). Perhaps the position they have arrived at can best be sumamrized as, the Conservative wing has made it clear that gay rabbis are fine if the congregation calls one.

3/28/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Chuck Blanchard said...


I agree. Sounds like a traditional Anglican analysis to me! Grin.

3/28/2007 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Pisco Sours said...

There is actually one gay Orthodox rabbi that I know of: Steven Greenberg. Although I think he came out after he was ordained, and is not considered Orthodox by very many other Orthodox.

3/29/2007 12:01:00 AM  

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