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RRC to Enroll Intermarried Rabbinical Students

In a historic decision, the Reconstuctionist Rabbinical School announced it will drop its ban against rabbinical students that have a non-Jewish partner from qualifying as applicants or graduating as rabbis from the school. The decision resulted from a September 21, 2015 vote. This makes RRC only the second, but the largest, rabbinical school to permit interfaith relationships after ALEPH, Renewal Judaism’s ordination program.
Why did they take this step when nearly all rabbinical colleges have firm policies that prohibiting the admission and ordination of students with non-Jewish partners?
These tweets give the shorthand:

More details came in an email from RRC President, rabbi Deborah Waxman, outlines the rationale.

“We no longer want to prevent very wonderful and engaged Jewish leaders from becoming rabbis…. Our congregations have members with non-Jewish partners, and we need rabbis who can provide them with role models for vibrant Jewish living.”

The decision was not made hastily.

“After years of study, research, and discussion with many members of the Reconstructionist community, we have concluded that the status of a rabbinical student’s partner is not a reliable measure of the student’s commitment to Judaism—or lack thereof.”

The School simultaneously announced that they have strengthened their “admissions standards on reviewing an applicant’s commitment to Jewish continuity in their personal, familial and communal life.”
Waxman concludes that the Reconstructionism as a movement has often been in the vanguard.

“Reconstructionism has always been predicated upon changing as Jews and Judaism change, even when these changes are emotionally challenging.”


6 thoughts on “RRC to Enroll Intermarried Rabbinical Students

  1. A cynical person might suggest that they made this move because as a movement, they’re shrinking very fast due to Aleph and Hebrew college at one end, and AJU at the other, taking over any niche that they once filled.

    1. Cynical people have made similar suggestions about some shuls that went egal when they were having trouble making a minyan when they only counted men. But even if that was the motivation, that tells us nothing either way about whether going egal is the right thing to do.

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