U.S. Reform Rabbis Suggest Welcoming Interfaith Couples

Reform Jewish task force on intermarriage: Movement should create special blessings for major life events.

The Associated Press
The Associated Press
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The Associated Press
The Associated Press

A Reform Jewish task force on intermarriage said Monday that the movement should do more to encourage mixed-faith couples to be active in Jewish life, including creating special blessings for major life events such as weddings and funerals.

The panel proposed no changes in the movement's policy on officiating at interfaith weddings. Reform Judaism formally opposes the practice but allows each rabbi to decide.

Instead, the panel proposed other steps, including educating rabbis on how they can engage intermarried families, and creating blessings for ceremonies that involve a non-Jewish spouse.

Leaders of the task force said their two-year study represents a shift away from trying to prevent intermarriage and toward encouraging mixed-faith couples to create Jewish homes.

The intermarriage rate for U.S. Jews has been above 40 percent since at least the 1990s. Slowing the trend has become one of the biggest concerns of the Jewish community.

The Conservative and Orthodox movements bar rabbis from presiding at interfaith weddings. The Reconstructionist movement also opposes officiating but gives rabbis individual discretion.

The task force was created by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which represents nearly 2,000 Reform clergy. The report was released at an assembly in San Francisco. The Reform movement is the largest branch of American Judaism.