- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — The major seminary and flagship institution of Conservative Judaism yesterday said it will start accepting openly homosexual students, after scholars who interpret Jewish law for the movement voted to allow it.

Arnold Eisen, the incoming chancellor for the Jewish Theological Seminary, said the decision was made after extensive discussion with faculty and students, a survey on views of the issue within the movement and a meeting of the school’s trustees.

“The larger issue has been how we can remain true to our tradition in general and to halakha (Jewish law) in particular while staying fully responsive to and immersed in our society and culture,” Mr. Eisen said in a statement distributed to the school community and its supporters.

The Conservative branch holds the middle ground in American Judaism, adhering to tradition while allowing some change for modern circumstances.

The larger and more liberal Reform Jewish movement, as well as the smaller Reconstructionist wing, allow homosexuals to become rabbis. The Orthodox branch bars homosexuals and women from ordination.

In December, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards voted to allow the seminaries to decide on their own whether to admit openly homosexual students. However, their decision also left leeway for synagogues to reject homosexual rabbis if congregations believe that same-sex relationships violate Scripture.

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