Masorti movement to ordain gay rabbis

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

The board of trustees of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary voted April 19 to accept gay and lesbian students for ordination beginning with the 2012-13 academic year. The Conservative movement in Israel is known as Masorti. 

The decision ends a rift with the Conservative movement in the United States, which began accepting gay and lesbian rabbinical students in 2006 and ordained its first openly lesbian rabbi, Rachel Isaacs, last year.

The announcement came in a statement from the seminary that hinted at the fiery debate behind the scenes.

“In the Conservative world, there are rabbis who accept ordination of gay and lesbian students as well as those who do not,” the statement said. “The decision is the result of a long process that included broad consultation and a search to find a consensus among differing opinions that will allow continued cooperation.”

Hanan Alexander, chair of the seminary’s board of trustees, said in the statement that the decision “highlights the institution’s commitment to uphold halachah [Jewish law] in a pluralist and changing world.” — jta & ap