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What Intermarried Rabbis Can Teach Us

Below is an excerpt from a recent op-ed in the New Jersey Jewish News written by JOI Associate Executive Director Paul Golin in response to recent debate in the Jewish community about whether or not rabbis should be permitted to intermarry. To read the complete piece, please click here.

“[…] I’m not the typical intermarried unaffiliated Jew, since I’m also a Jewish communal professional. Still, I think I speak for many intermarried households when it comes to what I want and need from a rabbi. And that might be instructive to the seminaries, who are training clergy for a U.S. population that now has more intermarried than in-married households.

I have two admittedly broad criteria for what I want in a rabbi: Tell me I’m in and mean it — and show me why it’s so amazing.

[…] Rabbis with nontraditional families like my own make me feel more included. Conveying why Judaism is still relevant to them provides me with access I wouldn’t feel elsewhere. The focus is not on how you come in, but what you get out of doing Jewish — in other words, why it’s so amazing.

American liberal Judaism in the 21st century must be about conveying Jewish meaning, not ensuring ethnic survival. Some may lament that rabbis today must first answer “what can Judaism do for me as an individual,” rather than “what am I supposed to do because I’m Jewish.” But the days of obligation-before-meaning are gone.

So tell us why Judaism is better! Why should my children’s ethical foundation be provided by Jewish wisdom rather than the universal ethics they would receive as Americans? Why should I seek spirituality in synagogue when the local meditation studio promises results I never hear offered by rabbis? How can the millennia-long conversations in Jewish texts help make my own life — or the world — better?”

Read the complete text here.

To read New Jersey Jewish News Editor-in-Chief Andrew Silow-Carroll reaction to the piece, please click here.



2 Comments

  1. Not to mention intermarried mayoral and comptroller candidates.

    Comment by Dave Boxthorn — July 29, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

  2. Paul referenced me in the last part of the full article. I fear my approach and my thinking on intermarried outreach may have been misconstrued. Paul seems to believe that I have said that there is only one “real” way to be Jewish. I have, in fact, said that there is such a thing as a “real” Jew - but my definition is nothing like the one Paul has ascribed to me. If anyone wishes to see what I think is the “real” way to be Jewish, they can read my own words here: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/real-jews/

    Harold Berman
    Co-Author - “Doublelife: One Family, Two Faiths and a Journey of Hope”

    Comment by Harold Berman — July 31, 2013 @ 8:47 am

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