JTS Accepts first Lesbian Student
by Kilian Melloy
With the acceptance of Marisa Elana James, an openly gay cantorial student, the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary began a new chapter in its illustrious life as a prestigious institution where Conservative Jewish rabbis and cantors receive their training, The Advocate reports.
Conservative Judaism is one of three major Jewish traditions, occupying the ideological space between liberal Reform Judaism and more traditional Orthodox branch. An announcement in March from the Conservative Seminary had made it known that openly gay and lesbian students would now be accepted.
The Advocate reported that James had been a longtime member of New York City’s Beth Simchat Torah, an LGBT-friendly synagogue presided over well-known lesbian rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum.
James said in a statement that, "it gives me great pleasure to be part of the first class of students at JTS who will never have to hide any part of our identities. My dream is to bring my own love of music and [Jewishness] and social justice to the generations of Conservative Jews for whom gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rabbis and cantors are a blessing, not a controversy."
Rabbi Kleinbaum, whom Newsweek magazine last month named as one of America’s most influential rabbis, commented, "This has been a long struggle, and we are very proud that one of our members will break this barrier."
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.