“Gay Rights Are a Natural Extension of Jewish Feminism” by Alice Sparberg Alexiou

Reference: Jewish Mosaic

Spring 2005

In January, the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly (RA) threatened to expel–but in the end only censured–one of its members, Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen. The reason, according to the RA, was Cohen’s violation of a procedure regarding serving synagogues not affiliated with the movement. But the real reason for the threatened expulsion, according to Cohen and some of her Conservative colleagues, is because Cohen has since 2002 served Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST) in New York, the world’s largest gay and lesbian synagogue. The senior rabbi, Sharon Kleinbaum, is a highly visible activist for gay rights. CBST is unaffiliated with any movement, although Kleinbaum approached United Synagogue about Conservative affiliation in 2002 after hiring Rabbi Cohen. Kleinbaum was told, according to news reports, that CBST was not eligible. Openly gay and lesbian Jews cannot be admitted to Conservative rabbinical schools and the movement does not sanction commitment ceremonies.

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