The Committee of Jewish Laws and Standards of the Conservative Movement has decided to finally judge on the nature of homosexuals and the Conservative Movement. A little history is needed to place this in context:
On March 25th, 1992 the CJLS adopted a "Consensus Statement of Policy Regarding Homosexual Jews in the Conservative Movement" which stated
- Conservative Rabbis will not officiate at Homosexual Weddings
- JTS will not admit homosexuals, there will not be any "witch hunts" for current students either
- Individual Rabbis will have the burden on judging the ability for a homosexual to be a communal figure
- Individual Rabbis will have to decide whether to give aaliyot or other honors to homosexual congregation members
- The Affirmation that Gay and Lesbians are welcome in their synagogues
Rabbi Joel Roth:
The halakhically committed Jewish community, qua community and acting through its communal institutions, ought not take any act, which can reasonably be understood to imply the halakhic coequality, validation, or acceptability of a homosexual lifestyle. It recognizes the legitimacy of the ongoing union of a couple through the institution of marriage. Where there can be no halakhic legitimacy to the union, no matter how loving and caring, there can be no marriage. The halakhic community, therefore, should not legitimate such unions by performing or recognizing affirmation ceremonies. The focus must be on the behavior, not on the individuals who engage in the behavior. We disapprove of the behaviors, not of the people.
The tasks would be two-fold, probably accomplished in different ways and by different people: (1) to establish Jewish sexual standards for our time, recognizing in that process the values of the tradition, the social realities of modern life, and the new knowledge we have of the formation of sexual orientations; and (2) to educate our constituency as to the product of our deliberations so that they will at least know that Judaism, in this area as in all others, continues to have something important to say to them even if one is not fully complying with its ideal norms.
I happen to dislike many of Dorff's opinions and this is no different. I don't like his idea that Jewish sexual standards need to be updated. I do agree that the "constituency" needs to be educated and shown that Judaism is still important, but this is not the issue to be the litmus test.
Rabbi Avram Israel Reisner:
The burden of overturning Torah's text, that we act for the survival of Israel, was not met by the private anguish that we heard. I was dismayed, however, by the cavalier dismissal of the voice of Vayikra that was heard in some of our discussions. Others can brand Vayikra as a product of "excessive priestly zeal." We consider it Torah. We choose, as our tradition would have it, to read this very prohibition on Yom Kippur. To disregard this level of commandment is to set every other commandment at risk. We do so at our peril.
Word on the street (121st and Broadway) that the CJLS will approve some measure to state that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle for Jews. Most Rabbinical Students think this is a necessary change for the Conservative Movement (coincidentally students are forbidden to drive on Shabbat), I foresee this is the final straw that will eventually break the movement in two, then again I don't have ruach hakodesh nor am I a prophet, so what do I know?