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Conservative Halakhot from the Committe on Jewish Law and Standards

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards sets halachic policy for Rabbinical Assembly rabbis and for the Conservative movement as a whole. It is made up of 25 voting members, all rabbis, who are joined by five lay representatives from United Synagogue and one cantor representing the Cantors Assembly, none of whom can vote. The committee discusses questions of Jewish law that are posed by members of the Rabbinical Assembly or other parts of the Conservative movement. When a question is placed on the agenda, members of the Committee write teshuvot -- also called responsa -- answers -- that are discussed by relevant subcommittees and then heard by the committee, usually at two separate meetings.

Next, the committee votes on each teshuva; it is approved when six or more members vote in its favor. Approved teshuvot become the Conservative movement's official halachic position, but rabbis, as marei d'atra of their own communities, have the authority to consider the committee's positions but make their own decisions as specific conditions warrant. Members of the committee also can submit concurring or dissenting opinions, which are attached to a decision but do not carry official status.

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