Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Conservative Responsa on Gay/Lesbian Issues

Contemporary Halakhah

The various Conservative responsa ("teshuvot")on gay/lesbian issues, as well as shorter and more accessible summaries, can be found and downloaded from this Rabbinical Assembly website. The principal responsum providing halachic authority for admitting gay and lesbian candidates for the rabbinate is the one by Rabbis Dorff (Provost of the University of Judaism in LA), Nevins (incoming Dean of the Rabbinical School at JTS-NY) and Reisner. (The principal opposition piece is by Rabbi Joel Roth.) There are several others, of varying degrees of interest.

For me, the most intellectually powerful and stimulating--I would even say stirring--of the proposals is that by Rabbi Gordon Tucker. (Disclosure: yet another classmate, friend, and teacher.) His approach, building in part on the jurisprudential thought of the late Robert Cover (my teacher at Yale Law School, and another of my hero-exemplars), will be of wide interest to jurisprudential and theological thinkers as well as to those focusing primarily on gay/lesbian issues.

In my admittedly biased view, Chancellor-elect Eisen and Rabbi Tucker provide a brilliant new generation of moral and intellectual leadership for the Conservative Movement and for American Judaism more generally.

I will be facilitating a reading and study group on these responsa at my local synagogue, Beth Israel Center, in Madison, WI beginning later this Spring. I hope to do some writing on the topic as well, some of which may appear, in abbreviated form, on this blog in months to come.

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