Rabbinical School and Interfaith Marriage, Part 3


A new article in Tablet, Big Tent Country by Marissa Brostoff, sheds some light on the issue of rabbinical schools accepting and ordaining intermarried rabbis.

We blogged about this issue three months ago, when New Voices published an important article, The Coming of the Intermarried Rabbi. At the time, I wrote that “there could be no better role model for interfaith couples than an interfaith partner who is so Jewishly engaged that he or she is a rabbi,” and that “Intermarried rabbis would be particularly inspiring to the interfaith couples who they served — and there is no reason they could not be inspiring to in-married couples as well.”

The Tablet article tells about Ed Stafman, a former attorney who intermarried, became active in a Reform synagogue, and eventually was ordained by the Renewal-affiliated Aleph Rabbinic Program, the only seminary that does not reject intermarried students outright. Rabbi Stafman will be installed next week as rabbi at Beth Shalom, a Reform synagogue in Bozeman, Montana.

What’s most interesting to me in the article are the comments by the members of Beth Shalom, which support the notion of an intermarried rabbi as a role model and inspiration for interfaith couples. Beth Shalom is by all descriptions a heavily intermarried congregation. One person in the hiring process said that Stafman’s being intermarried “might be a great asset because we’re so intermarried here that you might have a better understanding of the congregation.” Another said, “I think it will be very beneficial to those interfaith families in the community, and that they will really feel they have a home at Beth Shalom.”

About Ed Case

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

2 thoughts on “Rabbinical School and Interfaith Marriage, Part 3”

  • I considered Rabbinical school, and my non-Jewish husband was really supportive of the idea.  Needless to say, the fact that 99% wouldn’t take me just because I married him — not really an encouragement.

    I’m a million times more religious now than I was when I met or married my husband. 

    Thank goodness for Kohenet providing me with a truly accepting way to serve the Jewish community as a spiritual guide/leader.

  • As the child of an intermarried couple, I’m happy to hear some seminary students will be allowed to intermarry. When people say rabbis should be held to “a higher standard” – can you imagine how that makes children of intermarriage feel about our parents – and by extension about ourselves? What is it about being married that makes anyone less able to engage with his or her individual value system or chosen life direction? I strongly encourage interfaith couples to commit to raising their children as Jews. My guess is this will be easier for them (and their children) if they have the unequivocal support of the Jewish community.

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