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Jewish group to review gay policy

NEW YORK (AP) — The lawmaking body for the Conservative branch of Judaism has agreed to reopen discussion of its ban on same-sex unions and ordaining homosexuals.

Rabbi Reuven Hammer, president of the movement's Rabbinical Assembly, requested the review late last month, after the lay president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Judy Yudof, said many Conservative Jews had questions about the status of homosexuals. Her group represents about 800 North American congregations.

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, a panel of 25 rabbis, will decide whether its condemnation of gay sex still holds under current interpretations of religious law. The Torah's prohibition against homosexual behavior is the reason Conservative Judaism bars gays from serving as rabbis and cantors.

The discussion could take years. The last time Conservative Jews reviewed their policy on gays was in 1992.