Chronicle poll results: Spouses/partners of rabbinical candidates
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Chronicle poll results: Spouses/partners of rabbinical candidates

We asked our readers if rabbinical seminaries should accept candidates who have a non-Jewish spouse or partner? Here's what they said.

Last week, the Chronicle asked its readers in an electronic poll the following question: “Should rabbinical seminaries accept candidates who have a non-Jewish spouse or partner?” Of the 262 people who responded, 58% said yes; 33% said no; and 9% said they were not sure. Comments were submitted by 55 people. A few follow.

In an increasingly interfaith world, it’s important for clergy to represent their congregants and the world at large. It allows them to see another side of services and programming that could actually help strengthen the Jewish community.

Absolutely. None of us knows what the future holds for the non-Jewish spouse.

Yes, but they should agree to keep a Jewish home.

How wonderful it would be for the many of us in interfaith relationships to have rabbis to look to for modeling how to sustain and nurture a vibrant Jewish family within that same circumstance.

The rabbinical leader of a community should NOT live a lifestyle that tells his/her community that intermarriage is the norm. Although some rabbis do participate in mixed marriages, in no way should he/she demonstrate that such an event is preferable. And if the rabbi has a partner that is
not a spouse, a similar message is being sent.

When will our religious organizations get real about our demographic shifts? Look at the data. If we don’t embrace intermarriage, we will push many families away from engaging with Judaism.

Widen the net; don’t restrict it.

The world is changing. We have to include non-Jews as partners in Judaism.

That’s a toughie, but it breaks down to setting an example. We lose so many Jews to intermarriage and subsequent assimilation! We cannot pretend we don’t care, or we’ll be gone.

Don’t expect interfaith families to accept second-class citizenship in our synagogues. A rabbi in a similar family structure is a marvelous idea for engaged leadership,

Marrying a Jew is essential to avoid assimilation.

It’s contradictory to accept a candidate who is not doing the things he is learning. And this is not a minor thing — this is the very foundation of the Jewish people.

Non-Jewish spouse yes. Non-Jewish partner no.

Intermarriage is likely to represent the dominant trend in the future of non-Orthodox Judaism. Restricting the rabbinic pool to only those who marry Jews means cutting off a large group of people who might be able to relate to these new family situations. It might not work, but maintaining Jewish isolation is much more likely to lead to a continuing diminution of the population actively affiliating with the Jewish community and institutions. PJC

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