Thank you so much for bringing attention to the important topic of helping interfaith families find clergy for their lifecycle events. We appreciate the nod to the “established model” of InterfaithFamily’s Jewish clergy officiation referral service, but your reference (“Unorthodox Celebrations,” Jan. 25) is inaccurate and incomplete.
Our referral service has played a pivotal role for thousands of couples and families since it began informally with the launch of InterfaithFamily in 2002. Last year alone, we responded to 2,300 requests. We don’t now, and never have, provided requesters with “a list of hundreds of rabbis” from which they must forge a path forward alone. Rather, couples and families who request Jewish clergy for their lifecycle event — from weddings to baby namings to bar/bat mitzvah and more — receive a short, curated list of clergy in their area who match the criteria laid out by the couples and families themselves. The list is drawn from the more than 800 clergy who participate in our referral service.
Moreover, we offer requesters living in the eight major metropolitan areas served by the InterfaithFamily Your Community Initiative personalized follow-up from our full-time local directors, who are all rabbis themselves. They work with couples to answer questions, find appropriate resources (like InterfaithFamily’s Guide to Wedding Ceremonies) and connect and refer them to the broader Jewish community. In places where we don’t yet have full-time staff, we carefully respond to questions we receive after couples receive their initial response, and are exploring ways to enhance the experience.