Variations on Inclusion

I loved Rabbi Deborah Waxman’s explanation of why the Reconstructionist movement  rebranded itself as “Reconstructing Judaism,” including her statement that “A critical path forward is shifting from a focus on ‘being’ Jewish – important but insufficient for providing substance and structure – to a focus on ‘doing’ Jewish.” That shift in focus is a fundamental

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Revisiting the December Holidays

As always at the end of the year there were a lot of stories about interfaith families and the December holidays. The topic has been covered so much that it’s hard to find much new. But Rabbi Matt Gewirtz’ Why Santa Brought The Rabbi’s Daughter a Gift was extraordinary. When his youngest daughter, who says

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The Latest on Birthright Israel and Intermarriage

The latest evaluation of Birthright Israel, Beyond 10 Days: Parents, Gender, Marriage and the Long-Term Impact of Birthright Israel, has important information and implications for intermarriage policy. The headline, as reported by Len Saxe, the leader of the Cohen Center team that did the evaluation, in a piece for the Forward, is that “Birthright’s alumni,

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Inclusion as a New Year Begins

Charlene Seidle, an important funder, in Five 2018 Jewish Philanthropy Trends To Watch, refers to “positive opportunities to meet our constituents where they are, in innovative ways that resonate with their needs and interests.” She continues: Judaism is our competitive advantage, and 2018 is the year to use Jewish wisdom to its full and vibrant

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Welcome Back, URJ!

The Reform movement made a very important announcement last night, the launch of RJ Connect, which has the potential to engage many more interfaith couples and families in Jewish life. The Reform movement originated what used to be called “outreach” to interfaith families back in the 1980s. The movement had a pioneering outreach department that

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Growing Inclusivity

The intermarriage news since the High Holidays has continued to be positive for the most part. I was especially pleased to read Rabbi Micah Streiffer’s Yom Kippur sermon announcing that he was going to start officiating at weddings for interfaith couples. I say “especially” because Rabbi Streiffer is in Toronto, Canada and as far as

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Letters in the Scroll

I hope your Jewish holidays this year were good. Despite all of the bad news in the world, my holidays were excellent. They ended with the first grade consecration of my oldest grandchild on erev Simchat Torah at Temple Sinai in Brookline, Massachusetts. The rabbi had all of the children present at the service sit

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Positive Outlooks Greet the New Year

The discussion about Conservative rabbis officiating for interfaith couples has quieted, other than a terrible piece by one of the Cohen Center’s own researchers, that I blogged about separately. I’d rather focus on the positive responses to intermarriage as the High Holidays approach, and fortunately there is are five of them! Back when Mark Zuckerberg

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Objective Social Science?

Michelle Shain, a researcher at the Cohen Center at Brandeis, has written a very damaging article about the Cohen Center’s game-changing study, Under the Chuppah: Rabbinic Officiation and Intermarriage, about which I’ve said, “The many rabbis who don’t officiate at weddings of interfaith couples because they think those couples won’t engage in Jewish life no

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The Conservative Officiation Debate Continues

The media buzz about Conservative rabbis and officiation at weddings of interfaith couples has slowed, but there has been important commentary in the past three weeks. The rabbis of the Jewish Emergent Network – certainly among the most progressive younger rabbis in the country – expressed solidarity with Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie for raising important issues,

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