Rabbi Rebuked but Not Expelled

Published February 04, 2005, issue of February 04, 2005.
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The Conservative movement’s rabbinical union rebuked Rabbi Ayelet Cohen last week over alleged violations of the organization’s strictly enforced placement rules, but opted against expelling her.

Cohen’s story had grabbed headlines in both Jewish and mainstream newspapers because of her vocal support for ending the Conservative movement’s prohibitions against gays and lesbians, and because she had performed several same-sex marriages. She serves as the assistant rabbi of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, a gay congregation in New York that was denied membership in the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the movement’s congregational branch.

Rabbinical Assembly members are required to obtain a waiver from the organization before accepting postings at synagogues not affiliated with the United Synagogue. Cohen, assembly officials say, took her job before receiving such a waiver. After being granted one retroactively, she allowed it to expire.

Movement insiders say the sort of rule that Cohen broke is the most frequent cause for expulsion from the assembly, and rarely garners the attention that Cohen’s case did.

Repeated attempts to reach Cohen proved unsuccessful.






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