Jewish studies Center, soon gay rabbis in Israel

Stir in Jerusalem among orthodox rabbis

20 April, 16:15

(ANSA) - JERUSALEM, APRIL 20 - A well-known institute for Jewish studies (the Schechter Institute in Jerusalem) established yesterday that homosexual and lesbian students will be allowed to follow studies as early as next year. The decision has immediately caused a controversy.

The innovating current of Judaism, with a strong spirit of modernisation, has much influence in the U.S. but not so much in Israel.

And yet the decision - supported by 17 votes and just one abstention - has found a large group of followers in Jerusalem, where the orthodox establishment continues to see homosexuality as a "repulsive" phenomenon that has to be fought. The orthodox current also opposes the appointment of female rabbis.

Newspaper Haaretz, which carries this story on its front page, specifies that the innovators in Israel agree with the choices that were made years ago by the U.S. branch of Judaism. The two currents, the newspaper continues, were about to break apart, but now the rift seems to be healed. "This is an important development for 'halacha' (orthodoxy)'' rabbi Mauricio Belter, president of the Council of innovating rabbis in Israel, told the newspaper. "We have all been created in the image of the Lord, and therefore we are all equal." The religious press expects that these new developments will widen the gap in Israel between Jews that support modernisation (most of them from the U.S. and South America)and the more orthodox rabbinate in Jerusalem. (ANSAmed).

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