With a great deal of anticipation, I read the recent publication of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, which focused on a study of select practices concerning intermarried families in Conservative congregations. I was hoping that the work being done by the FJMC and JOI and others in the field had indeed made an impact—opening wider the doors of Conservative synagogues to intermarried couples and their families. This study of 100 random congregations, according to its author Rabbi Charles Simon, yielded some interesting results about Torah honors, in particular. It states that 79% of those surveyed allow non-Jewish partners to stand with their Jewish partners on the bimah (the raised platform in the front of the sanctuary), specifically during bar/bat mitvah family celebrations. However, among some of the congregations who do not permit this arrangement during bar/bat mitzvah, they do permit it during baby namings.
While this study may not be indicative of the entire Conservative movement (we will need to at least use the “reality test” to see whether indeed it reflects a larger group of synagogues), it does seem that change is afoot in the Conservative movement as it pertains to a welcoming attitude and practice for interfaith families. This is indeed a welcome change.
To view the publication, please click here.
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