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[Adapted from American Reform Responsa, #146]
Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis has opposed mixed marriages. Reform Judaism recognizes the problem as significant in every period of Jewish history. It has become more severe in 20th-century American, and therefore, Reform Judaism has made provisions for families of mixed marriages and their children. Such families are welcomed in Reform congregations, and Reform Judaism continues to urge them to convert to Judaism. The conference resolution of 1973 succinctly summarizes the position of Reform Judaism:
The Central Conference of American Rabbis, recalling its stand adopted in 1909 that "mixed marriage is contrary to the Jewish tradition and should be discouraged," now declares its opposition to participation by its members in any ceremony which solemnizes a mixed marriage.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis recognizes that historically its members have held and continue to hold divergent interpretations of Jewish tradition. In order to keep open every channel to Judaism and K'lal Yisrael for those who ahve already entered into mixed marriage, the CCAR calls upon its members:
- To assist fully in educating children of such mixed marriages as Jews
- To provide the opportunity for conversion of the non-Jewish spouse; and
- To encourage a creative and consistent cultivation of involvement in the Jewish community and the synagogue.
Most Reform Rabbis will not preform mixed marriages. There are some that do, based on the notion that to reject the non-Jewish partner can only serve to take the Jewish partner away from Judaism. However, if they perform the marriage, the both partners receive a positive impression of Judaism, and the option remains of educating the non-Jewish partner as to the meaning of Judaism (so that they choose to convert on their own). Further, couples with positive feelings towards Judaism often raise the children as Jews.
The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.
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Daniel P. Faigin <email@example.com>