NJJN reported that the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Israel will not ordain rabbis who are openly gay or lesbian (“NJ man quits Israeli seminary over gay issue,” May 20).
The article identified the seminary as “Machon Schechter, the Israeli Masorti (Conservative) movement’s rabbinical seminary.” Distressed by this information as a longtime donor to Masorti because of its commitment to support Conservative Judaism in Israel, I wrote to Masorti in New York questioning the policy and wondering where Masorti stood, particularly since the Schechter seminary claims, in its literature, to be “affiliated” with Masorti.
David Lissy, executive director and CEO of Masorti in New York, wrote back:
“There is a relationship between Masorti and the Schechter Rabbinical School in that the Rabbinical School hopes to train rabbis for work within the Masorti movement…. I think the clearest point to make for you is that the Masorti movement does not set policy for the Schechter Rabbinical School nor does the Rabbinical School set policy for the Masorti movement.”
He also wrote:
“The movement itself is open to all, and we know of people who are actively involved in the gay and lesbian community who have active and important leadership roles, including senior staff positions, in the Masorti movement.”
Conservative Judaism’s rabbinical school in the U.S., the Jewish Theological Seminary, does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. There are differences of attitude among Conservative congregations in this country and between some American and Israeli Conservative Jews. Mr. Lissy’s response satisfies my concern, and I intend to continue supporting Masorti as a means to encourage Conservative Judaism in Israel.