A Conservative Judaism rabbinical school will admit openly gay and lesbian students for the first time in its history as of next year.
The Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem on Thursday announced it would accept homosexual students, bringing a bitter feud that pitted academics and students against each other to an end.
“The Schechter Rabbinical Seminary views the serious process leading to this decision as an example of confronting social dilemmas within the framework of tradition and Halacha,” stated Prof.Hanan Alexander, chairman of the Board of Trustees of SRS.
“This decision highlights the institution’s commitment to uphold Halacha in a pluralist and changing world.”
The Conservative movement, also known as Masorti Judaism, has for years been torn over whether it should ordain openly gay students. In recent years, however, two of its most important religious schools, the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles and the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, have opened their doors to LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students. But the Schechter rabbinical seminary in Jerusalem to date had an unofficial policy of not accepting gay students.
For Amichai Lau-Levine, who is training for the rabbinate and is openly gay, news that the rabbinical seminary in Jerusalem will admit LGBT students next is a personal victory.
“This decision is not just about LGBT rights,” he wrote in his blog. “It is an important statement about Halachic change, evolving social-legal norms and the courage to make progress in a society so suspicious of changes and so badly in need of this fresh approach.”
He thanked Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum, one of the teachers at the seminary, for her commitment to pass the resolution.