Rabbi Einat Ramon, Dean of the Conservative Movement's Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem, announced that there will be no change in the admissions policy of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in response to a recent decision by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) of the Rabbinical Assembly in New York that would permit the ordination of practicing gay and lesbian rabbis and pave the way for the sanctification of same-sex commitment ceremonies.
The CJLS, the Conservative Movement's North American halachic authority, voted to endorse two proposals on this issue in December 2006: The decision that ordination of practicing gay and lesbian rabbis is not permitted by Jewish Law (Rabbi Joel Roth,), and the decision permitting the ordination of practicing gay and lesbian rabbis (Rabbi Elliot Dorff and two colleagues).
Since Conservative Judaism is a pluralistic movement, when the CJLS votes to approve two conflicting opinions in this way, each local rabbi is authorized to choose which opinion to follow.
Although the Israel branch of the Conservative Movement has long asserted its independence in matters of Jewish Law, Rabbi Ramon felt that in light of the discussions in North America generated by the split CJLS decision, it was important to clarify the policy of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary.
In doing so, she was acting on the authority vested in her by the school's Executive Committee, chaired by Rabbi Hanan Alexander, Professor and Chair of the Department of Education at the University of Haifa. In upholding the status quo, Ramon is in agreement with Rabbi Roth's opinion, which was also endorsed by Rabbi David Golinkin, President and Professor of Jewish Law at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.
In a position paper that Rabbi 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 explained, “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 Conservative rabbis who have chosen to follow a different opinion," said Rabbi 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."