With the Jewish Theological Seminary on the verge of an historic break with tradition (the potential ordaining of openly gay and lesbian rabbis and sanctioning of same-sex unions) the school's faculty, administrators and students were bracing this week for the possible fallout.
The rabbinic committee that interprets Jewish law for the Conservative movement (North America's second-largest Jewish denomination) will meet Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss five different religious opinions, some or none of which may be adopted.
As a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in the 1990s, Carie Carter was plagued by a feeling that she was “hiding, denying something.”
Rabbi Carter spent many years struggling with her sexual orientation before finally realizing she was a lesbian. Once she did, she struggled over whether she should keep it a secret to remain in rabbinnical school.
Only now, with the announcement this week that the Conservative seminary will ordain openly gay rabbis, is she willing to have her sexual orientation discussed in print.
At a time when the Conservative movement is struggling to define its goals and message, the new chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Arnold Eisen, appears set to empower the members themselves to determine its identity.
Even “the rabbis are asking me, ‘what does it mean to be a Conservative Jew?’” Eisen told The Jewish Week on the eve of his inauguration this week as the seventh chancellor of JTS, the movement’s anchor institution.
by Stewart Ain
In meeting with Conservative rabbis from across the country who were ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary, its chancellor, Arnold Eisen, found the “overwhelming majority” had been inadequately trained in pastoral care.
At the same time, Eisen said, the rabbis said it was the “most rewarding part of their jobs — dealing with people at times of stress, end of life and serious illness.”