Friday, February 24, 2006

I once was lost, but now am found

An announcement from our friends at Keshet:

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards is meeting March 7-8 to discuss the Conservative Movement's stance on homosexuality.

In preparation, Keshet invites all JTS students, faculty, and staff to:

Lost (and Found?)
a candid talk with the
affected by our policies

Gabriel Blau
Jarah Greenfield
Kate O'Brien

Wednesday March 1, 12:15-1:15
Beit Midrash

Gabriel Blau is an author, educator, and founder of God and Sexuality: an Academic Conference on Religion and Issues of Sexuality and Gender at Bard College.

Jarah Greenfield is a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College who could not apply to JTS because of the policy prohibiting lesbian and gay ordination. She serves on the board of Rabbis for Human Rights, and has studied at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education.

Kate O'Brien attended the JTS Rabbinical School from 2001-2004 before being forced to leave due to the policy prohibiting lesbian and gay ordination. She is currently studying for masters’ degrees in Jewish Education and Bible at JTS and serves as director of Alma NY, a new progressive learning community.

This Wednesday, at JTS. All are invited!

Background: the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards is the Conservative movement's version of the College of Cardinals, but not as transparent. Demonstrating its commitment to halachic innovation, the CJLS has created the new halachic category of "homosexual" out of whole cloth. In the spirit of the rabbis who extended the Torah's "Do not cook a kid in its mother's milk" to prohibit eating, cooking, and deriving benefit from any mixture of meat and milk, the CJLS has taken an opaque biblical verse that chaza"l understood as banning a specific sex act between two men, and extended it to exclude anyone of either sex who identifies as "gay" or "lesbian" (with no actions necessary) from various communal roles. This is the part where Moses shows up to Rabbi Akiva's classroom and says "What are you thinking???"

Even when the CJLS is at its most inclusive, it says "We emphatically recognize the human dignity (k'vod habriut [sic]) of all such individuals, and invite them to participate within our religious communities." (Who is "we"? Who is "them"? Whose religious communities?)


  1. stuff like this is why I left the Conservative movement. they lost touch with america in the 80s. you'd think that being considered just as heretical as reform by the majority opinion of the majority of orthodox communities would give them the freedom to decide things according to their own ethical standard, la plug.

    i've read the homosexual responsa and it's bunk. it addresses wordplay and freudian psychology but never wonders why the man on man sex in the bible is considered with bestiality and idol worship. perhaps the Torah wasn't aware of loving monogomous relationships? just maybe?

    in any event, they advocated some pretty groundbreaking stuff in the 50s, talking about uprooting a law from the torah and quoted those various examples. but now with a great opportunity to show they're not bigots and they turn to joel roth to tell them gays don't deserve equal footing in the Jewish community (but eaters of BLT's, go ahead, Deuteronomy 14:3 )

  2. the other reason I left was because their rabbis and shuls don't respect the law. here in chicago, a friday night live concert at a large Conservative Temple (not shul) involves a band, mixing board, electricity, microphones, electric instruments, and a cantor who can't lead. oh, and people dance and clap, which is prohibited in mishnah beitza which the gemara explains as because people might dance and clap and tune their instruments. go figure. halakhic pluralism my foot. the shuls are in anarchy and the jts ivory tower is too conservative, small c. go read tradition and change by waxman.