Conservative Halakhah and Homosexuality

An insider's view of the 2006 CJLS gay vote.

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Struggling with Multiple Truths

Many outsiders, and some insiders, wonder how the Conservative Movement can thrive or even survive with such a division. Most realize that we have done it before and are likely to do it again. We are a big tent movement, and we will continue to try to serve God in truth, realizing that none of us has a monopoly on God's truth.

I note that other movements have also handled major schisms in ideology or practice. Chabad has flourished despite profound disagreement over the late Rebbe's status as messiah. Reform has struggled mightily over the role of traditional ritual practices in contemporary life. The Orthodox world is still divided over many subjects from Zionism to the relevance of modern secular thought in traditional Jewish practice.

The mark of religious honesty and intensity is sometimes struggle. The people of Israel received its name as a result of Jacob's wrestling match with the angel. "Yisrael" alludes to the periodic need to struggle with God and our fellow person, trying in the end to attain the name's second meaning: Yashar Eil—upright, honest, and righteous before God.

At the end of the struggle we may be left limping; yet that may be the price of attaining God's blessing.

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Rabbi Daniel S. Nevins

Rabbi Daniel Nevins is the Pearl Resnick Dean of The Rabbinical School of The Jewish Theological Seminary. In addition, he is senior lecturer of Professional and Pastoral Skills, chairs the Department of Professional and Pastoral Skills, and serves on the Chancellor's Academic Council. He has written responsa on the halakhic topics of personal status, disabilities, bioethics, and homosexuality. For more information, see his web page, Rabbi Nevins.?