The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College announced it will no longer stop students from applying or graduating based on whether or not their spouse or partner is Jewish.
The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College announced it will no longer stop students from applying or graduating based on whether or not their spouse or partner is Jewish. It is the first Jewish seminary to allow ordination of rabbis who are in interfaith relationships.
The RRC faculty voted on Sept. 21 to revoke its “Non-Jewish Partner” policy, which previously stated: “The RRC does not ordinarily admit or graduate as a rabbi a student married to, or in a committed relationship with, a non-Jew.”
“We know there are interpartnered Jews that are passionate about living a Jewish life,” Deborah Waxman, president of the Wyncote-based institution, said on a conference call on Wednesday afternoon to explain the decision. “We are proud to be the first to acknowledge them.”
Waxman also announced that the institution will cease the practice of disallowing current rabbinical students in good standing who are in relationships with non-Jews from graduating.
Waxman emphasized that in a society where more than 70 percent of Jews who are non-Orthodox are intermarried, it was incumbent upon the school to change its approach. In the past, applicants would be turned away because of interfaith marriage, but now more people will have the opportunity to apply and hopefully attend the school, she said.
“The Reconstructionist movement was founded to embrace change,” Waxman said. “We are all Jews by choice now.”
While representatives from the Hebrew Union College-the Jewish Institute of Religion and the Jewish Theological Seminary, both in New York City, could not be reached for comment, Rabbi Asher Lopatin, president of the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in NYC said his college would not be changing its admissions policy.
“Since we are an Orthodox rabbinical school, we require all our students to observe Jewish law (halacha),” said. “Marrying only a halachically Jewish spouse is a central halakha in Judaism. Therefore, we require that any student applying or going through our program follow this halacha.
“Outside of our students, we respect people’s free choice to follow Jewish tradition and we do not judge people’s decisions — even if we disagree with them.”