Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Machon Schechter slams its students

Two brief, incomplete, articles were published last week by the Jerusalem Post and the JTA, talking about a, uh, problem at Schecter concerning gay rabbinical students. Jewschool has an exclusive report from sources close to the story, which I recommend reading.

Some stories have been floating around the media with varying levels of accuracy, but Jewschool has obtained the full (or fuller) story from reliable sources. The real story here isn’t about gay and lesbian rabbis in the Conservative movement (that was last year’s story); it’s about the lengths to which people and institutions will go out of fear, demonizing their own students and losing all perspective.

The story begins a year ago this week, when the Jewish Theological Seminary announced that it would begin admitting openly gay and lesbian students to its rabbinical and cantorial schools. (The American Jewish University, formerly the University of Judaism, is now also admitting gay and lesbian students.) One year later, to mark the anniversary, JTS held a program on Wednesday called Hazak Hazak V’nithazek: Celebrating Strength Through Inclusion, a full day of study, conversation, and celebration.

Several JTS students studying this year at Machon Schechter (the Conservative rabbinical school in Jerusalem where American Conservative rabbinical students are required to spend a year) wanted to participate in the celebration going on in New York in some way, and since they couldn’t attend physically, they organized a small parallel event in Israel. According to email invitations sent to the Conservative Yeshiva and other rabbinical students in Jerusalem, the students invited Yonatan Gher, former Director of Communications for the Masorti (Israeli Conservative) movement, incoming director of the Jerusalem Open House, and a member of Masorti congregations his whole life (and recently profiled in the New York Times because he and his partner are having a child via a surrogate mother in India), to speak over lunch about his personal experiences as a member of a GLBT family in the Masorti movement.

The email announcing the event makes clear what this event was not: It was not intended as a proposal for an official Schechter event. It was not a discussion of Schechter’s admissions policy. (Schechter does not admit gay and lesbian students.) It was not a protest or demonstration to advocate for change in Schechter policy. It was not a halakhic debate, nor was it an exposition of a particular halakhic position. It was not an event manufactured for the media. It was not a “ceremony,” as the media has incorrectly reported it. It was simply a lunch-and-learn with an opportunity for students to listen to Mr. Gher’s personal story and to participate remotely in JTS’s anniversary event. The email says that outright.

Read more…

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Filed under: homophobia, israel, judaism, queers, wtf?

2 Responses

  1. Adam Hyman says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is.

    Schechter should have allowed to students to have their lunch and learn on the main campus.

    Conservative Rabbis aren’t real Rabbis anyways, so let them do what they want.

  2. feygele says:

    Adam, I agree with you that it shouldn’t be a big deal, that Schechter should have just allowed the event to happen in the first place.

    “Conservative Rabbis aren’t real Rabbis anyways” um… How do you figure?

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