Rabbinical Assembly Goes on Record Against Patrilineal Descent
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Rabbinical Assembly Goes on Record Against Patrilineal Descent

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The Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative movement put itself officially on record Monday as opposed to the so-called “patrilineal descent.”

The action came in the form of a vote on a resolution proposed by its Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) and after a long discussion at its annual convention here.

The resolution stated that “ascription of Jewish lineage through a legal instrument or ceremonial act on the basis of anything other than matrilineal descent” or through a conversion procedure omitting tevilah

It further stated that such actions will be regarded from now on as “violations of a standard of rabbinic practice inconsistent with membership in the Rabbinical Assembly.”

The resolution upholding matrilineal descent which, it stated, “has been authoritative in normative Judaism for many centuries as the sole determinant of Jewish lineage,” passed by a

The vote was taken by head count after the tally of a first vote by voice was regarded by participants as unclear.

The CJLS, which introduced the resolution, had adopted it by a 21-2 vote (with one abstention) conducted by mail ballot some months ago. The RA vote Monday made it a standard of Conservative rabbinic practice.


Rabbi Seymour Siegel, Professor of Theology and Ethics at the Jewish Theological

In his letter, Siegel quoted from a paper by Rabbi Shaya J.D. Cohen of JTS citing possible evidence that matrilineal descent had some roots in Roman practice. During the discussion at the RA


Price told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a telephone interview that he was “happy

He said, however, that the 30 percent who had voted against the decision Monday included those in favor of non-lineal descent, those who opposed one single RA standard for determining Jewishness, and

Price told the JTA that the resolution was instigated by the CJLS out of the “sense that something that was never a question is becoming an issue” in the Conservative movement. It became an issue, he said, after the Jewish Theological Seminary voted to ordain women rabbis

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