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HUC-JIR's IJSO Supports Conservative Movement's Decision

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Friday, December 1, 2006

Statement from Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation (IJSO) of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Joel Kushner, Director On Jewish Conservative Movement's decision regarding gay and lesbian seminary students and same gender union ceremonies 

We in the Reform Jewish Movement and at the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation commend our brothers and sisters in the Conservative Movement for taking steps that will allow the admission and ordination of gay and lesbian seminary students and the blessings of same gender union ceremonies. The decisions of the Conservative Movement's Law Committee on this topic are complex and will not please everyone. 

Fifty years ago, no one in either of our denominations expected women would one day be ordained as rabbis. Now, female rabbis are interwoven into the fabric of our movements and have given them a vitality and strength that no one would want to lose. We in the Reform movement can say the same for the admission of gay and lesbian seminary students at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (officially since 1990) and the celebration of same gender ceremonies since 2000. These students are now leading dynamic synagogues, innovating educational programs and reinvigorating Jewish community centers. Same gender couples are entering under the huppah and having their unions sanctified. Many are raising Jewish children and in the process, enriching our Jewish tapestry and all who join with us. 

We know that this new path for the Conservative Movement will not be easy but it can be assured of support from Jewish siblings amidst the Jewish and other religious movements who have walked this journey before them. Again, we celebrate the decision to embrace all who wish to deepen their connection with God and offer them the full benefits of that relationship. 

The Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation is driven by Jewish religious values and seeks to achieve complete inclusion, integration and welcoming of LGBT people in congregations and communities. The Institute trains current and future Jewish professionals, supports scholars and researchers in their quest to develop a theology and practice of inclusion. The Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation is unique in its place at the juncture of academia and professional training at the heart of the Reform movement's educational matrix, where Jewish traditions and ethics combine in the spirit of social justice, holiness and community. 

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.