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Conservative Rabbis Consider Gays’ Status

Conservative Rabbis Consider Gays’ Status

Differing religious perspectives on the status of gays and lesbians in the Conservative movement, from maintaining the status quo to radical alterations, were offered last week at a special two-day meeting of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards.

“It went well, quite well, and we finished the meeting without anybody yelling at anybody else,” Rabbi Kassel Abelson, chairman of the law committee, said in an interview.

The nine opinions were presented in teshuvot, or position papers, with each author given 10 minutes to present a synopsis. Each view now goes back to a subcommittee for analysis. The law committee will visit the matter at its next three meetings, with the first in June. The committee expects to finalize a new position following a two-day retreat in March, Rabbi Abelson said.

The Conservative movement prohibits openly gay or lesbian students from being admitted to the Jewish Theological Seminary rabbinical or cantorial schools, and from serving in leadership roles in the movement. In some cases the ban has been applied to candidates for teaching positions and lay leadership roles. Conservative rabbis may not officiate at same-sex marriages.

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