Rabbi Einat Ramon, dean of the Masorti/Conservative movement's Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem, announced this week that there will be no change in its refusal to ordain practicing gay and lesbian rabbis or to sanctify same-sex commitment ceremonies. On Monday, the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York - the main seminary and flagship institution of Conservative Judaism - said it would start accepting openly gay and lesbian students, after scholars who interpret Jewish law for the movement voted to allow it. Although the Israel branch of the Conservative Movement has long asserted its independence in matters of Jewish Law, Ramon felt that in light of the discussions in North America, it was important to clarify the policy of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary. In a position paper that Ramon distributed to the Executive Committee, she called attention to the historic centrality of heterosexual marriage in Jewish life. "Jewish theology regards the union between a man a woman who are sexually and emotionally different from one another as a complementary covenant of friendship and intimacy, which forms the basis for procreation and childrearing. This is why Jewish law has so fervently opposed sexual relations between members of the same sex," she said, "and why the heterosexual family has played such a vital role throughout the ages in the transmission of Jewish values and the survival of the Jewish people." "I have great respect for Masorti/Conservative rabbis who have chosen to follow a different opinion," said Ramon, "and for the Reform Movement in Judaism, which has long admitted candidates to its rabbinical schools who are practicing gays and lesbians or who favor same-sex commitment ceremonies. However, Jewish Law has traditionally prohibited homosexuality and only sanctifies sexual relations between members of the opposite sex." "We have always admitted students committed to an observant life-style," continued Ramon, "including kashrut, Shabbat and the sanctity of the heterosexual family. Today in particular, when the traditional family is in trouble, it is especially important that we ordain modern rabbis who are devoted to this institution and identify with this worldview."