Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City ordains first lesbian rabbi

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The Conservative movement ordained their first openly gay rabbi in a ceremony earlier this month at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.

As reported in the Jerusalem Post, Rachel Isaacs, 28, was ordained at the Seminary on 19 May, the first openly gay person of either gender to hold the position.

Ms Isaacs had begun her rabbinical training at the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, but switched to the Conservative seminary after it began admitting openly gay and lesbian students in 2007.

In her new position, Isaacs will serve as the part-time rabbi at Beth Israel Congregation in Waterville, Maine, where she has already served as a rabbinic intern. She will also hold a part-time position as the Jewish chaplain of Colby College, where she will also be a member of the faculty.

The JTS only began accepting openly gay and lesbian students in 2006 and according to Rabbi Isaacs, studying there may still be a challenge for her fellow LGBT people. Speaking to the Jewish Daily Forward, she said: “As much as the struggle for gay and lesbian equality has made great strides there are still people who struggle with their sexual orientations or have families who aren’t supportive or are scared they won’t get jobs. That’s just life as a gay or lesbian person.”