Women Synagogue Leaders Postpone Discussion on Ordination of Women As Rabbis at Request of JTS Head

Some 2000 delegates at the biennial convention of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism voted Friday in plenary session not to discuss the subject of ordination of women as rabbis at the strong urging of Dr. Gerson D. Cohen, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

At an earlier session he had told the delegates that such discussion and debate would be premature at this time, because the matter was being studied by a special commission representing all segments of Conservative Judaism. He added that “any debate at this time would only create divisiveness when what is needed is calm.”

Prior to Cohen’s talk, there appeared to be considerable support for such discussion among the delegates as well as from some segments of the leadership. Cohen said the matter would be on the agenda of the Rabbinical Assembly when it meets in January and presumably at some point recommendations of the commission will be made to the Jewish Theological Seminary, the only institution in Conservative Judaism which ordains rabbis.

Sensing some support for a debate now, Cohen said: “Our decision will not be made on the basis of resolution or pressures from those not qualified to make the decision. I am against religion by referendum. Matters of principle should not be subject to majority vote, and will not be resolved by debate. Kashrut and circumcision, for example, can also not be decided by debate. “He added that he himself had an open mind on the subject. The League voted to take the matter up at its 1980 convention.

NEXT STORY