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Israeli Conservatives Will Ordain Gay Rabbis

Gay and lesbian students will be ordained as Conservative rabbis in Israel.

The Board of Trustees of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary voted Thursday night to accept gay and lesbian students for ordination beginning with the 2012-13 academic year. The Conservative movement in Israel is known as Masorti.

A seminary statement said the decision comes following a “long process.”

“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 halachah,” or Jewish law, Hanan Alexander, chair of the seminary’s Board of Trustees, said in the statement. “This decision highlights the institution’s commitment to uphold halachah in a pluralist and changing world.”

Students are ordained by a beit din, or rabbinical court, made up of three members of the Rabbinic Advisory Committee of the seminary, all of whom are members of the Rabbinical Assembly of the Masorti/Conservative movement. The beit din members are chosen by the candidate and subject to the approval of the seminary’s dean. They have different opinions regarding the ordination of gay and lesbian students, according to the seminary.

“This unique mechanism is an expression of halachic pluralism, one of the founding principles of SRS,” the seminary said in its statement. “The Seminary is a religious institution of the Masorti/Conservative Movement, bound by Halacha, whose inclusive approach allows for a variety of Halachic opinions.”

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