The extent to which gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews (GLBT) may participate in the religious life of the Jewish community has for years been a source of debate and contention within the Jewish community in general and within the Conservative/Masorti Movements in particular. In some of the congregations and organizations which comprise our movement GLBT Jews feel that they must remain closeted; in others, they feel more comfortable, accepted fully as they are into the life of their communities. Unfortunately, we are still witness to a policy of “don’t ask-don’t tell,” in many congregational and organizational settings.
The Cantors Assembly is the organization of Conservative/Masorti cantors. The official policy of the Conservative Movement (as expressed in the consensus statement of its Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, March 1992) is to welcome gays into our synagogues. But that welcome is not yet complete.
That official policy does not yet allow for openly gay men and lesbian women to study for the rabbinate and cantorate and become ordained and invested.
That official policy does not yet allow for gay couples to commit to one another in a religious ceremony (though there are many individual cantors who view favorably religious ceremonies for same-sex couples, and many have performed such ceremonies).
That official policy allows the individual congregation or rabbi to decide if gays may or may not be employed as teachers, youth leaders, as well as whether they may or may not receive honors in our synagogues.
The members of Keshet-Cantors hold that GLBT Jews should be embraced as full, open members of all our congregations and institutions. Through our understanding of Jewish sources and Jewish values, we affirm that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews may fully participate in community life and achieve positions of professional and lay leadership.
Keshet-Cantors has been established in order to connect gay-friendly CA cantors with one another, to serve as a collective voice of gay-friendly CA cantors, and to offer a point of contact for Conservative/Masorti Jews who are themselves GLBT or who care about GLBT issues. Keshet-Cantors is not an official arm of the Cantors Assembly and is not endorsed by the Cantors Assembly. It is a free association of cantors who are members of the Cantors Assembly and who subscribe to the rationale provided above and to the objectives listed below.
1. Keshet-Cantors will provide GLBT Jews and those who love and support them with the means to contact a Conservative/Masorti cantor for positive and sympathetic advice and information. To this end, Keshet-Cantors will maintain on its Internet site a directory with contact information for members of Keshet-Cantors, which will list, according to area of residence, the names and e-mail addresses of all its members, with an indication of the languages they speak.
2. Keshet-Cantors members will, each to the best of his or her ability, provide judgment-free support and advice to those who approach them in the following areas: a listening and sympathetic ear, personal counseling in absolute privacy, halakhic queries, ceremonies of interest to the GLBT community, congregations that are already gay-friendly, referrals to helpful resources within the greater Jewish community and all similar matters.
3. Keshet-Cantors members will make a concerted effort within the Cantors Assembly to remove all religious and organizational limitations that the official policies of the Conservative/Masorti Movements and their institutions place at present on members of the GLBT community.
4. Keshet-Cantors will co-operate with all other arms under the umbrella of the Conservative/Masorti Movements that have similar aims and objectives.