Reconstructionist Jewish Rabbi Students No Longer Required to be in Relationships with Jewish Partners

Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) faculty voted on yesterday in favor of becoming the first college representing this specific branch of Judaism to revoke its “non-Jewish partner policy” for potential students.

Reconstructionism is the smallest movement in American Judaism. In total, it has roughly 100 synagogues all over North America. It is most known for its culturally progressive views, especially as they relate to women and gays.

The Reconstructionists are based in Wyncote, Pa., right outside of Philadelphia. Their primary premise is that each new generation must reconstruct the Judaic faith in such a manner to make it both meaningful and relevant for the time.

The school began debates on the issue more than two years ago. The only proviso attached to the policy is that students “must model commitment to Judaism in their communal, personal, and family lives.” The policy change will apply both to new students and those who are currently enrolled in the program.

The previous policy would neither allow admission nor grant graduation to any rabbinical student married to or involved in a committed relationship with a non-Jew. The only exception to the rule was in those cases where the partner agreed to convert.

School President Deborah Waxman hopes that the decision will influence further discussions amongst Jewish leaders in regards to interfaith relationships.

Reactions to the policy change were divided with some former students expressing heartfelt approval and other longtime members of the movement conveying disappointment over the decision.

According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 60 percent of Jews who married between 2000 and 2013 chose non-Jewish spouses. Traditionalists see this as problematic since one-third of the world’s Jewish population was killed in the Holocaust. They believe, and statistics prove, that the children of interfaith couples are more likely to shed their Jewish identity than those born of marriages where both spouses are Jewish.


Video: YouTube/Yiddish Book Center

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