Con­ser­va­tives in Is­rael vote for gay rab­bis

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY JC RE­PORTER

IS­RAEL’S CON­SER­VA­TIVE rab­bini­cal school has voted to or­dain gay and les­bian rab­bis.

The Schechter Rab­bini­cal Sem­i­nary took the decision last week, af­ter years of in­ter­nal dis­agree­ment on the sub­ject. The con­tro­versy caused two rab­bis, one for and one against or­di­na­tion, to re­sign.

The no-gays pol­icy that has stood at the Jerusalem in­sti­tu­tion un­til now also caused ten­sion with the US Con­ser­va­tive Move­ment, which does or­dain gay rab­bis. “We had to re­assess the is­sue be­cause of the sit­u­a­tion that the US ac­cepts stu­dents but the sem­i­nary here does not,” said Ilana Mushkin, chair of Schechter’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

The in­ter­nal dis­agree­ment over the mat­ter at Schechter was complicated by the fact that both pro­po­nents and op­po­nents of or­dain­ing gays and les­bians cited Jewish law. Back in 2006, there were two Con­ser­va­tive halachic rul­ings on the sub­ject, one for and one against. The new pol­icy at Schechter claims to re­spect both rul­ings by al­low­ing the or­di­na­tion of gay and les­bian rab­bis, but leav­ing it up to ev­ery fac­ulty mem­ber whether or not to serve in the three-per­son beth din con­vened to ap­prove or­di­na­tions. Ms Mushkin said that this is an ap­pli­ca­tion of the Con­ser­va­tive Move­ment’s prin­ci­ple of “halachic plu­ral­ism”.

An­drew Sacks, di­rec­tor of the Con­ser­va­tive Move­ment’s Rab­bini­cal Assem­bly in Is­rael, wel­comed the rab­bini­cal school’s decision. “I think that any step within halachic boundaries, which in my view this is, in­creases the pool of po­ten­tial ap­pli­cants and there­fore rab­bis, and raises the level of sen­si­tiv­ity to in­di­vid­u­als,” he said. “It can­not be any­thing but ben­e­fi­cial.”

Re­gard­ing the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween ad­her­ents of the two halachic rul­ings he said: “This is a dec­la­ra­tion that there are a va­ri­ety of valid in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Jewish law, and one of the won­der­ful things about the Ma­sorti [Con­ser­va­tive] ap­proach is this recog­ni­tion that there is more than one valid way to in­ter­pret Jewish law.”

The “Karl Lueger” sec­tion of Vi­enna’s fa­mous Ring Boule­vard is to be re­named. Lueger, who was mayor of the city from 1897 to 1910, is of­ten de­scribed as the fa­ther of mod­ern po­lit­i­cal an­tisemitism

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