Seminary head calls for gay rabbi talks

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Now is the right time to lift a ban on gay rabbis, according to the new chancellor of a seminary at the heart of the Jewish Conservative movement.

Arnold Eisen, seen as a leading Jewish scholar, was appointed head of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) yesterday.

He outlined some of his priorities including reinvigorating synagogue life and strengthening the connection of American Jews to Israel, when asked about gay rabbis he replied, “My personal position, ‘I’d like to see it possible for gay and lesbian students to be ordained.

He said he would leave same sex ceremonies to the rabbis, alluding to the fact that some already conduct them.

Dr Eisen said he planned a dialogue on the issue of gay rabbis next year, he told the New York Times, “If JTS is going to think about whether or not to admit gay and lesbian students for the rabbinate and cantorial school, the faculty’s going to have to have a discussion on this.

“They haven’t had one. I don’t know where they stand.”

He said his expertise comes from “just knowing gay and lesbian people, friends, students, co-workers, and the sense that Judaism has always adapted itself to fit changing circumstances.

“Not every change is good, but this is one in which I think it’s time.

“People of good will differ on this, you cannot easily turn around a position Jewish law has held for 2,500 years.”