In attempts to approach the issue of intermarriages, about half of Reform rabbis in North America are willing to officiate at weddings between a Jew and a partner of another religious faith, reports Penny Schwartz in a Jewish Telegraph Agency article (July 3).
Interfaith marriages are coming to be seen as “part of the world we live in,” thus shifting the question from deciding on officiating or not to how to engage these families in the synagogue. It has become much more common for Reform rabbis to officiate at such marriages during the past decade. This summer, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR, gathering rabbis belonging to the Reform movement) will for the first time publish a pre-marital counseling guide for clergy.
The guide will include discussion of the case of intermarriage and will also contain suggestions on following up on such couples, something that had been neglected until now. The CCAR had historically opposed its members officiating at intermarriages, but as early as 1973 it recognized that there were divergent views and practices among its members.
Orthodox and Conservative rabbis do not officiate at such marriages, Schwartz reminds her readers, but the Conservative movement does outreach work with interfaith couples. In recent years, studies have questioned the assumption that intermarriages necessarily involve disengagement from Jewish life.
(Jewish Telegraph Agency, http://www.jta.org)