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Conservative Jewish Panel Votes to Allow Gay Rabbis

Jewish_gay2Opening a schism between Jewish religious leaders, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly voted to allow gay rabbis and same-sex commitment ceremonies. Four conservative rabbis immediately resigned from the committee following the controversial vote:

"The decision, which followed years of debate, was denounced by traditionalists in the movement as an indication that Conservative Judaism had abandoned its commitment to adhere to Jewish law, but celebrated by others as a long-awaited move toward full equality for gay people."

The move is expected to create divisions within Conservative Judaism, much like what happened in the Anglican church when it approved the ordination of oenly gay Bishop Gene Robinson.

Said Rabbi Jerome Epstein, a law committee member: "Most of our congregations will not be of one mind, the same way that we were not of one mind. Our mandate is to help congregations deal with this pluralism."

The ruling does have its limitations however: "The ruling accepting gay rabbis is itself a compromise. It favors ordaining gay rabbis and blessing same-sex unions, as long as the men do not practice sodomy."

Conservative Jews Allow Gay Rabbis and Unions [nyt]

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  1. This panel did nothing more than make a bad situation worse.

    What many reports about this commission don't mention is the fact that they passed a number of contradictory resolutions which, rather than resolving issues, will make the water murkier.

    They passed a resolution that allows for gay rabbis and opens the doors for seminaries to accept gay and lesbian rabbinical students AND they passed a resolution that makes it clear that they believe gay rabbis are contrary to their religious beliefs.

    They passed a resolution that allows for gay and lesbian couples to be blessed by rabbis AND passed a separate resolution that declares that gay and lesbian relationships, even nonsexual ones are contrary to Jewish law.

    They passed a resolution that states that gay male sex is unacceptable but there is still no prohibition against lesbian sex. This is based on the often repeated Levitical prohibition against MAN lying with MAN as HE would with woman and based on the commonly misinterpreted story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    The resolution that few are reporting on in their desire to make this panel’s work look as if it was pro-gay is the one that gently encourages gay and lesbian Jews to consider reparative therapy.

    I fail to see how any of this clarifies the Conservative movement’s positions on gay and lesbian issues and I can’t imagine how anyone could consider this panel’s resolutions to be a step in the right direction unless they mean “right” in the political sense.

    It seems like this whole deal turned out to be a “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” compromise. Like Clinton with gays in the military, they went in to do the right thing but caved to pressure and passed resolutions that left them worse off than they were when they started.

    Posted by: Zeke | Dec 7, 2006 12:29:01 PM


  2. So, can straight jewish couples fuck each other in the butt? Is it OK for a single conservative jewish man to use a dildo on himself? Throw Leviticus away! Throw the Bible away for that matter! See where all this "chosen people" and "I'm saved, you're not" bullshit has gotten us? Insanity.

    Posted by: busytimmy | Dec 7, 2006 12:29:54 PM


  3. Murky and Jewish religious law always go hand and hand! Just try eating Kosher.

    Posted by: Anon | Dec 7, 2006 12:39:06 PM


  4. They are VERY specific in their prohibition against MALE anal intercourse.

    Posted by: Zeke | Dec 7, 2006 12:56:08 PM


  5. "The ruling accepting gay rabbis is itself a compromise. It favors ordaining gay rabbis and blessing same-sex unions, as long as the men do not practice sodomy."

    Huh? So men in a same-sex union can be "blessed" by a rabbi, but they can't have sex with one another? Yeah... that will work.

    Does the conservative Jewish definition of sodomy (which by the way is 100% legal under US law) include oral sex? If so, then this decision is truly meaningless.

    Posted by: Jonathon | Dec 7, 2006 1:20:02 PM


  6. Jonathan - No - as Zeke noted above, in Jewish law sodomy is only male anal intercourse, which is what is prohibited in the Torah (Old Testament).

    Posted by: dave | Dec 7, 2006 4:08:22 PM


  7. so is wearing fabric blends and a bunch of other outdated things. Levticus also commands the death penalty for disobeying one's parent's. So, let's have some consistency here.

    Posted by: Timothy | Dec 7, 2006 4:27:20 PM


  8. Just curious, Timmy. I agree that Leviticus is full of bizarre ancient laws that no one would think to follow today, but I disagree with throwing the Bible away. Is there a different religious book you subscribe to?

    Posted by: Joe T. | Dec 7, 2006 10:27:50 PM


  9. I feel that Jews, Christians, Moslems and indeed any person of any faith is intitled to believe Gay sex is a sin and gay clergy is unacceptable...JUST AS LONG AS THEY DO NOT IMPEDE ON THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF ANYONE ELSE INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO MARRY IN A CIVIL CEREMONY,ADOPT CHILDREN ETC. As a former fairly observant Conservative Jew I do not really understand how one can reconcile the religion with being a gay man having sex. It's why I am no longer a practicing Conservative Jew. But let's show the respect to others beliefs as we wish them to respect ours even if we strongly disagree with them.

    Posted by: CHARLIE | Dec 7, 2006 11:00:31 PM


  10. I highly agree, Charlie. It really should be that simple, too. Specific religious rules should only apply to people who want to be in that religion.

    Posted by: Joe T. | Dec 8, 2006 12:52:28 AM


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