The job looked like a perfect fit. A Solomon Schechter day school had offered a Judaic studies teaching job to an experienced Conservative rabbi, and had wrapped up negotiations over salary and benefits. Signing the contract was all that was left.
But just before signing, the rabbi wanted to make sure the principal knew she was a lesbian.
The next day the school's rabbinic authority informed the rabbi that the job offer was being revoked on the basis of that information.
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.
In what will be a watershed moment for the Conservative movement — akin to admitting women into the rabbinate a generation ago — the ordination of openly gay and lesbian rabbis and the sanctioning of same-sex unions are likely to be approved by the denomination’s legal scholars, according to movement leaders.
As growing numbers of non-Orthodox Jews flock to the mikveh — a trend that has spread over the last decade — an inevitable clash between the traditional and the modern is beginning to emerge, with progressive Jews seeking to recast an ancient ritual in their own image.
The current interest in mikveh was evidenced by the more than 200 people, men and women, from across the Jewish spectrum, who attended the conference “Reclaiming Mikveh: Pouring Ancient Waters into a Contemporary Vessel,” held last month in the Boston suburb of Newton, Mass.