A Plea to Ordain Intermarried Rabbis


Ellen Lippman, rabbi of Kolot Chayeinu in Brooklyn, has an important contribution in today’s Forward to the debate about admitting and ordaining as rabbis people in interfaith relationships, an issue we’ve blogged about frequently. In an “open letter” to her alma mater, Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Lippman, who is partnered with a person who is not Jewish, writes,

We are like the thousands of Jews across America who commit to strongly Jewish lives with their non-Jewish spouses. Interfaith families tell me that having a rabbi who mirrors their relationships makes an enormous difference to being able to commit to Jewish life.

Rabbi Lippman argues that an “inclusive vision of Jewish leadership” means that “we should not push away those who want to become leaders of the Jewish community as rabbis just because they are intermarried.” And she argues that:

A rabbi is a role model, and there are many kinds of role models. Intermarriage is a fact of American Jewish life. We can do a better job of connecting intermarried Jews to synagogues, rabbis and Jewish life. One way is to knowingly ordain intermarried rabbis.

It will be fascinating to follow this issue as it is debated at HUC.

About Ed Case

Ed Case is Founder of InterfaithFamily and works at IFF Headquarters in Newton, MA.

2 thoughts on “A Plea to Ordain Intermarried Rabbis”

  • Mr. Jeff seems to be unfamiliar with the halachic situation of b’dieved mutar, l’chatchila assur that comes up all the time in Jewish law (perhaps this is what the people at HUC are apparently trying to invoke?)

  • Although I do not have a problem with intermarried clergy, that is not the real issue. The Reform Movement cannot “sell” themselves as being open to and supportive of interfaith families with one hand and stab them in the back with the other- this is simply unethical. If you insist on having your cake and eating it too- then HUC should ordain those who are intermarried and allow each community to decide whehter or not to employ them. Also, by refusing to ordination, they are denied opportunities other than pulpits.

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