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Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Will Accept Students With Non-Jewish Partners

The rabbinical seminary of American Judaism’s smallest mainstream denomination will become the first major rabbinical school in the United States to admit and ordain rabbinical students who have non-Jewish spouses and partners.

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, which made its announcement September 30, has been debating the issue for years. Some leaders of Reconstructionist congregations had said they might leave the movement over the change.

“The issue of Jews intermarrying is no longer something we want to police,” said Rabbi Deborah Waxman, RRC’s president, in a press release. Read more »

Raising Your Children Jewish

Raising a child Jewish is not a problem for Orthodox parents because everything they do and model has Jewish content to it.

But what if you are a secular Jew, and more especially, what if you are a secular Jew married to a non-Jew? How do you establish a feeling of Jewishness in your children?

I. Start with God

What distinguished Judaism in the beginning, what has always distinguished Judaism from other religions, is a belief in a one God, a moral God, Who has made man in His own image, and wants a world full of righteousness and kindness and compassion.

We teach that God is invisible, that He is everywhere, and that He sees all and knows all and is available to us through prayer and conversation. We can talk to God, and sometimes He talks to us. How He talks to us varies from person to person. If you look for Him and listen for Him, you will discover how He talks to you. Read more »

“Non-Jew” Michael Douglas Gets Israeli Award

Michael Douglas will receive the 2015 Genesis Prize, which carries a $1 million honorarium, in June in Israel. The award recognizes an internationally renowned individual who is a role model in his or her community and whose actions and achievements express a commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and Israel, and who can inspire the younger generation of Jews worldwide.

Michael Douglas has a Jewish father, the famous actor Kirk Douglas, but a non-Jewish mother. So he is not considered Jewish in the eyes of Jewish law. Read more »

Conservative Rabbi Backs Off on Intermarriages

Rabbi Wesley Gardenswartz Backs Off Controversial Plan for Intermarriages

Prominent Cleric Would’ve Been Conservative Trailblazer

(JTA) — Within days of floating a proposal that woud have allowed Conservative rabbis to perform interfaith marriages, Rabbi Wesley Gardenswartz of Temple Emanuel in Newton, Mass., backed away from the controversial plan.

In a recent email, Gardenswartz asked congregants to consider a proposal for a new shul policy that would enable him to officiate at interfaith weddings in cases where the couple commits to a “Covenant to Raise Jewish Children.”

The shift would have made him the first prominent Conservative clergyman to break with the movement’s ironclad rule against rabbis performing intermarriages.

“Conservative clergy cannot officiate at or attend an interfaith wedding,” Gardenswartz wrote. “But I am worrying whether that response has grown stale, and whether a new response would better serve the needs of our families and of our congregation.” Read more »

Jewish Descent Rules Are Not Biblical

According to Jewish law, the child of a Jewish woman is Jewish regardless of who the father is, while the child of a Jewish father is not Jewish if the mother is not Jewish. In other words, a Jewish woman has the ability to confer Jewishness, while a Jewish man does not. In practical terms, Judaism does not recognize the child of an intermarried Jewish man as Jewish unless the child converts to Judaism. But the child of an intermarried Jewish woman is Jewish regardless of what faith the child is raised in.

In my view, Jewish law on this point is completely insane, both genetically and sociologically. What possible point could there be in denying genetic Jews membership among the Jewish people? No other group works this way. For example, if you have an American parent, the American government does not care what gender your American parent is. It is happy to recognize you as an American citizen.

Oh, you say, Jewish law is different because we always know who the mother is, but we do not know for sure who the father is. Read more »