4 Comments

  1. One of the criticisms of the Catholic church not allowing priests to marry is that celibate priests would not be able to relate to the concerns, challenges, and joys faced by their married congregants with or without children. This maybe an unfair generalization, but for myself, I knew nothing about what it truly meant to be in a committed romantic relationship until I was in one, until I had to wrestle with those issues myself. I suppose one can learn a little about this by observation, but one cannot know personally what it is like without having experienced it. I think all Reform rabbinical students and rabbis would benefit from having intermarried colleagues. Intermarried congregants would see an example of how an intermarried Jewish family can be included in and involved in the Jewish community. For years intermarried Jews were told that they had no place in the Jewish community because they betrayed the faith by marrying out. The only reason synagogues changed this message is because they suddenly found themselves desperate for members. We need to stop using intermarriage as a scape goat. Many Jews disengaged and continue to disengage from synagogues and other Jewish institutions, not because intermarrying made them disinterested, rather because they had negative experiences in those institutions. Synagogues have gotten better about engaging congregants, particularly young people, but there are still many communities and institutions that are not welcoming to Jews who do not fit in with the status quo/stereotype (i.e. unmarried Jews, poor Jews, non-white Jews, patrilineal Jews, blond or red-headed Jews, LGBT Jews, disabled Jews, mentally ill Jews, and Jews who have struggled with alcohol and drug addiction). The clergy and lay leadership of congregations may view themselves as open to all of these groups, but may not have worked hard enough to extend that message to their congregants. Besides, just thinking of oneself as welcoming does not make it so. Difficult and sometimes painful discussions and self reflection need to happen within every community before they can be truly welcoming to all Jews.

    Posted by
    Rebekah
  2. I’m a rabbinic student in the Secular Humanistic Jewish movement. My husband is not Jewish, but we celebrate Shabbat and other holidays together, he has learned and participated in Jewish life alongside me, and has deepened my own experience of being Jewish by showing how meaningful it can be to welcome others into our culture and let the broader human experience be part of how we understand Jewish values. I am delighted to be part of a movement (www.shj.org) and a rabbinical school (www.iishj.org) that truly celebrate diversity and intermarriage – among our membership and leadership.

    Posted by
    Dr. Denise Handlarski
  3. Both Daniel and Brandon present compelling arguments based on Jewish law and tradition. But, they neither addressed the issue of basic fairness. While it is legal for a religious organization to discriminate, is it moral? Clearly, it would be illegal and immoral for any secular institution or secular employer to discriminate based on marital or relationship status. In the secular world, one must judge an individual based on their accomplishments and constraints, not of their spouse or partner.

    Shouldn’t the HUC be governed by the same constraints? Aren’t they putting perspective applicants in a very difficult situation? Hmm, should I tell admissions that I went on a date with a non-Jewish man/woman? That the relationship is serious? That we are now living together – but maybe only temporarily? That my partner is Jewish, but feels absolutely no connection to Judaism? This is a tangled web that forces the applicant to perhaps disclose more to the admissions office than they would to their parents.

    HUC should stick to evaluating the qualifications and commitments of the applicants. Leave their spouses, partners and families out of it.

    Posted by
    Sam Kirzner
  4. I am astounded at this topic and can not even bring myself to read it, so here is a kneejerk reaction to it. Only in America could this even be taken seriously. I am dismayed by the trend here to fit anything round the secular mindset . I am far from frum but respect totally the person who sacrifices material comforts to follow the discipline of a faith. If a religious establishment decries an interfaith relationship or marriage it is the students prerogative to leave not the Thousand year old tradition to bow. I may sound reactionary but please choose to observe or not is a personal choice and the individual has no right to foist that on the group.

    Posted by
    Paul Besterman
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