Monday, April 11, 2005

CJLS Reaffirms Commitment to Ambiguity

In 1992, the Conservative Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards met to discuss the role of gays and lesbians in Jewish communal life. While affirming that homosexuals were welcome in Conservative "youth groups, camps, and schools," the resolution that emerged from the 1992 meeting was largely negative. Gays and lesbians would remain barred from rabbinic and cantoral positions; same-sex weddings and commitment ceremonies would be prohibited; individual rabbis would retain the right to bar gays and lesbians from leadership positions of any sort.

Last week, the CJLS revisited the issue amid much fanfare. A revised resolution was issued, which contained the following decisive statement:

The parameters of sexual conduct for gay and lesbian Jews, their eligibility for admission to rabbinical and cantorial school, and commitment ceremonies remain the subject of a lively debate within the ongoing deliberations of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards.

At least this time they acknowledged the debate.

The full text of both statements and some responses can be found here and here.


fleurdelis28 said...

See? And people say that the Conservative movement lacks ideological consistency!

dad said...

"and extending to them membership and leadership rights to the greatest extent permitted by halakhah (Jewish law)"

Including membership among the 6 lay leaders of the CJLC or does halakha prohibit it?

Rymenhild said...

Elf's dad: That's a very, very interesting question. I can't imagine that halacha itself could prohibit anyone at all from being a lay member on a recently founded committee. That being said, I haven't heard anything about the sexual orientation of any member of the committee. Furthermore, the asterisks on the list suggest that the lay members are all non-voting.

elf said...

You have a point, Dad. Although I wasn't expecting any real acknowledgement of same-sex relationships from this resolution, I was kind of hoping that the CJLS would reconsider its position on allowing gays and lesbians into rabbinic and cantoral programs, since barring them from these programs has no halakhik basis. On second thought, I realized that that's the last thing the anti-gay contingent wants: more people at JTS who are bound to disagree with them on this issue. Ditto, of course, for the CJLS.

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