Conservative rabbis to meet in NYC

Next week’s big meeting of Conservative rabbinic scholars to take on the question of homosexuality will take place at NYC’s historic Park Avenue Synagogue on the East Side.

A press conference has already been called for 3 p.m. on Wednesday, when the results will be announced.

The 25 members of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards will meet Tuesday and Wednesday. They are now scheduled to hear five position papers on what is clearly one of the most controversial questions in the religious world today.

The group can approve one paper, none or more than one. It takes six votes to give a position the group’s stamp.

Currently, the Conservative movement does not allow the ordination of gays and lesbians and its rabbis do not bless same-sex relationships. In 1992, the committee upheld the traditional injunction against gay sex.

The committee is an advisory group. It takes positions that its members believe adhere to a Conservative interpretation of Jewish law and tradition.

But individual synagogues and pulpit rabbis are free to interpret Jewish law differently and not follow the group’s advise.

Still, there is no getting around the importance of the committee’s decision(s), which will become part of Conservative Judaism’s identity.

The papers under consideration will be released after the meeting breaks up. No doubt, they will be poured over for some time.

Again, the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC offers a real good “primer”: on the gay debate.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.