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Conservative Movement in Israel Approves Gay Rabbis

Schechter Rabbinical Seminary will accept gay and lesbian students next year

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: May 9th, 2012 in News » Israel

Conservative Movement in Israel Approves Gay Rabbis

The Conservative Jewish Seminary in Israel voted to allow the ordination homosexual rabbis, as gay and lesbian students will have the opportunity to enroll in ordination classes beginning next year.

The Jewish Press reported that the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, which is affiliated with Israel’s Conservative Jewish movement and the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, announced it will begin accepting gay and lesbian rabbinical students in Jerusalem this fall.

Schechter “trains educational and spiritual, non-Orthodox leaders for positions in Israel.”

The American branch of the Conservative movement has been admitting gay students in its rabbinical seminaries for years, according to Haaretz.

“In the Conservative world, there are rabbis who accept ordination of gay and lesbian students as well as those who do not,” the Israeli movement released in a statement.

“The decision is the result of a long process that included broad consultation and a search to find a consensus among differing opinions that will allow continued cooperation.”

Hanan Alexander, chair of the seminary’s Board of Trustees said, “The Schechter Rabbinical Seminary views the serious process leading to this decision as an example of confronting social dilemmas within the framework of tradition and halachah.

“This decision highlights the institution’s commitment to uphold Halacha in a pluralist and changing world.”

The Reform movement, which is the largest Jewish denomination in the U.S., has been ordaining homosexual rabbis for decades while no Orthodox rabbinical institution currently admits gay and lesbian students.

“In my opinion, it’s a grave mistake,” Shaar Yeshuv Cohen, the chief rabbi of Haifa said of the Conservative movement’s decision while speaking with the Toronto Star. “It’s a violation of the Bible.”

Rabbi Mauricio Balter, President of the Israeli Conservative Movement Rabbinical Assembly told Haaretz that he was happy the vote went the way it did. He added that the vote was unanimously in favour of accepting homosexual rabbis.

“I see it as a very important development in Jewish law,” he said.

“It is the right thing to do. We were all made in the image of god, and as such we are all made equal. For me this is a very important value. I always said we should admit gay and lesbians into our ranks.”

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