This week's portion: Jacob and Israel
The very beginning

Ordination regardless of orientation!

Longtime readers of this blog know that I rarely post about anything "newsworthy." I tend to write about liturgy and the lifecycle, poetry and peoplehood, Torah and text -- subjects which are hopefully timeless, but rarely timely. I figure there are plenty of bloggers out there who specialize in current events; instead I usually do what I (think I) do best.

That said, when something genuinely significant happens in the Jewish world, I can't help wanting to mark it here. And today "[t]he Conservative movement's highest legal body moved to allow commitment ceremonies for gays and the ordination of gay rabbis," according to this JTA article. Today the movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards approved three conflicting teshuvot (halakhic responsa): two which uphold the movement's longstanding ban on homosexuality, and one which permits both ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis, and gay and lesbian commitment ceremonies. (Here's the press release issued at the end of the meeting. While I'm at it, hat tip also to Keshet; I borrowed the subject line of this post from the buttons they've been handing out.)

That these two perspectives can coexist within a single denomination may be baffling to some of my readers from other religious traditions. But one need only look at a page of Talmud, which enshrines both the majority opinion and the voices of dissent, to realize how deeply Judaism values the dialectical process of dialogue and the coexistence of divergent opinions. For my part, I find real reasons for hope and rejoicing in the way this decision finally played out, and I admire the Conservative movement's commitment to living with this ambiguity. 

Both of the religious communities of which I am a part (Reform Judaism and Jewish Renewal) have long embraced both ordination of gays and lesbians, and gay/lesbian commitment ceremonies. I am deeply glad that my Conservative friends and colleagues can now proudly support their own movement in doing the same -- while still remaining in community with those Conservative Jews who choose to hew to the other responsa approved today.

This is a shehecheyanu moment if there ever was one. Blessed are You, Source of All being, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this holy, wonderful, too-long-delayed, tremendously exciting moment. Ameyn v'amen!

Edited to add: Rabbi Jill Jacobs explains it all with this post: What the law committee decision means. Smart, thoughtful, and clear; go and read.

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