SOURCE: Central Conference of American Rabbis

Central Conference of American Rabbis

March 08, 2010 18:10 ET

Reform Rabbis, Largest Group of Jewish Clergy, Address Intermarriage at 121st Convention of the CCAR

Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) Emphasizes Bringing and Keeping More Families in Jewish Life; Rabbinate Acknowledges Intermarriage as a Given -- and Will Turn It Into an Opportunity to Engage Those People in Jewish Life

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - March 8, 2010) - The Reform rabbinate, the world's largest group of Jewish clergy, addresses intermarriage during the 121st annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), which is taking place here. The CCAR represents nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis in North America and around the world.

While in the past the Reform rabbis focused discussion on how to prevent intermarriage, the CCAR today affirmed that intermarriage is a given and should be approached with the goal of engaging intermarried families in Jewish life and living. Rabbis can and should work to improve the effectiveness of their efforts to encourage intermarried people to embrace Judaism for themselves and their children.

Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, President of the CCAR, said, "When a Jew marries a Jew, there is a greater likelihood of Jewish continuity. But in the case of intermarriage, the opportunity for Jewish continuity is significant, especially if there is effective rabbinic leadership. Today we focus on the very positive fact that rabbinic outreach to intermarried families makes a difference in bringing intermarried families into our synagogues and Jewish life."

The CCAR also recognizes that debating the question of rabbis officiating at ceremonies of couples who are intermarrying is simply not a productive conversation. "We recognize there is a diversity of carefully considered views and practices among Reform rabbis when it comes to officiation. It is a deeply personal matter of conscience for rabbis. The CCAR is here to help rabbis develop and articulate their approach to embracing and bringing people into Jewish life," explained Rabbi Charles Kroloff, chair of the CCAR's Task Force on the Challenges of Intermarriage for the Reform Rabbi, which presented its findings at the Convention after three years of study and deliberation.

Added Rabbi Dreyfus, "It has become evident that when it comes to officiation, rabbis, each acting out of his or her own understanding of how to best serve God and the Jewish people, were offering their own answers. But there is broad agreement that the challenge of intermarriage in this century for the Reform rabbi is how to help such families become committed Jewish households and how to invite them to make that choice. We know that rabbis need a variety of skills and resources to help make that possible."

The CCAR's discussion and clarification on intermarriage also affirmed:

  • The importance of encouraging in-marriage (marriage between Jews) and conversion of non-Jewish spouses;
  • The importance of learning from rabbinic colleagues who may think or act differently, as well as from those whose views and practices are similar.

To arrange a discussion with CCAR President, Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, or with the chair of the Task Force on the Challenges of Interfaith Marriage to Reform Rabbis, Rabbi Charles Kroloff, please contact Itay Engelman at Sommerfield Communications, Inc. at 212-255-8386 or itay@sommerfield.com

About CCAR
The Central Conference of American Rabbis, founded in 1889, is the oldest and largest rabbinic organization in North America. As the professional organization for Reform Rabbis of North America, the CCAR projects a powerful voice in the religious life of the American and international Jewish communities. Since its establishment, the CCAR has a rich history of giving professional and personal support to Reform rabbis, providing them opportunities for study, professional development and spiritual growth beginning while they are still in seminary, through mid-careers, and into retirement. The CCAR is uniquely positioned to meet the ongoing needs of its nearly 2,000 member rabbis (virtually the entire Reform rabbinate) and the entire Reform Jewish community.

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