Kol Isha - Voice of a Woman

Rantings and ruminations in the mid-58th century. Judaism, feminism, nonprofit capacity, foreign policy, neuroscience, synagogue politics, knitting, poetry, music, mosaics and whatever else is eating at my grey matter.

Friday, December 08, 2006


The Conservative Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has issued opinions on the status of homosexuals in Judaism.

True to their usual Solomonic approach ("let's just split the baby!"), they have endorsed opinions that state both that it is halachically permissible not to discriminate against GLBT Jews, and that it is permissible to discriminate. WTF? Note that they don't positively say the movement should not discriminate -- just that it's okay not to. Gee, thanks, guys -- and here I thought you might end the movement's obsession with Leviticus 18:22.

There is no other single verse in the Torah that gets this kind of treatment. There's two thousand years of bigotry and small-mindedness at work. Never mind that the passage in question comes in the midst of prohibitions of behavior that was common in neighboring cults at the time. Historical context, anyone?

The Committee is taking a "state's rights" stand here -- at the same time that they can't even muster the chutzpa to come to one decision, they've effectively thrown the issue back to individual congregations:
One of the basic tenets of the Conservative movement is that each rabbi who is the spiritual leader of a congregation is the mara d’atra, or final decisor of Jewish law, in that congregation. Therefore, the decisions of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, while important, are advisory. Reached after serious scholarship, thought, and debate, the decisions provide guidance and support to congregational rabbis, who must make their own decisions.

So, congregations that discriminated will continue to do so, and those that have shed bigotry to embrace GLBT members will continue to do so.

The primary change here will be that the Jewish Theological Seminary will likely move to allow openly GLBT people to enroll and obtain ordination. However, the Committee's weaseling means that once ordained, GLBT rabbis may be denied leadership positions.

The more I read, the less clear it gets. Now there's progress.


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