A proposal to admit qualified women to the professional organization of Conservative Jewish cantors has been rejected.
After five hours of debate at its 41st annual convention in Kiamesha Lake, N.Y., the Cantors Assembly voted 97-95 against admitting women graduates of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Cantors Institute.
The seminary has been certifying women cantors since last year, and two women cantors who are serving congregations in New Jersey were present at the convention. The vote means women will not be admitted to membership in the organization but does not restrict Conservative synagogues from appointing women cantors who have been certified by the seminary.
In a joint statement, four women cantors who have been certified by the seminary and 12 who are enrolled in the seminary’s Cantors Institute said the outcome did not surprise them: “We understand that change is often difficult. But we are dedicated to our calling. We have chosen this profession because we believe in the power of the hazzan (cantor) to inspire and to instill in others a love of Judaism and the Jewish way of life.”