April 21, 2008

A Gay Breakthrough in Judaism

Christian denominations are hardly the only ones who discriminate against GLBT people, especially when it comes to ordination. There has been a recent breakthrough in the Jewish faith, however, with two gay students enrolled at a Jewish seminary. Hopefully forward thinking like this will continue to spread within Christian denominations still closed to ordination of GLBT people.

I seldom if ever post anything about Judaism, but this past Saturday, our church held its annual Passover Sader. While it wouldn't be confused with one at a synagogue, it was still inclusive of many of the 4,000 year old traditions. Why a Sader in a Christian church? Well, the Last Supper was a Passover Sader, wasn't it?

From the New York Times:

Aaron Weininger stood in the ballroom of a Florida hotel last April, a college senior given the compliment of leading the Passover Seder for an audience of university administrators. He reached the sentence in the Hagaddah that implores each generation to feel that it was the one liberated from Egypt. There were few passages in the liturgy he had known better or longer.

In this particular moment, though, the words rippled with new meaning. One week earlier, the leading seminary of Conservative Judaism had dropped its longstanding ban on admitting, teaching or ordaining openly gay students to be rabbis. Ten days later, Mr. Weininger had his interview at Jewish Theological Seminary, seeking to be the first person to break those barriers.

“That line of the Haggadah spoke so directly to me,” Mr. Weininger, 23, recalled in an interview. “To feel what it was like to be liberated from a narrow place. Egypt can mean different things in different generations. And I felt like I was on the threshold of crossing the sea, of leaving that place of narrowness. I hadn’t reached the Promised Land yet, but I was on my journey.”

As Passover of 2008 commences Saturday night, Mr. Weininger, along with Ian Chesir-Teran, is one of two gay rabbinical students at J.T.S., as the seminary is routinely known. Their presence has essentially, if not always easily, settled decades of roiling debate within the Conservative movement over homosexual members of the clergy.

Click here to read the rest of the NY Times story.

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