More Jewish Education Needed

More Jewish Education Needed

Should a rabbi officiate at an interfaith wedding? People on both sides of the question can admire Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl’s lucid exposition of her experience in dealing with the issue (“The Power of ‘Yes’ on Interfaith Officiation,” Opinion, March 31). After 10 years of refusing to marry interfaith couples, Rabbi Buchdahl has changed her stance. She now officiates at interfaith weddings, a practice allowed in her Reform movement, under certain conditions. One of those conditions is “meaningful learning for the couple,” which, Rabbi Buchdahl notes, is often “the most significant Jewish study that either partner has undertaken as an adult.”

Left unsaid is that for the Jewish partner it may often be the most significant Jewish study EVER, going back to his or her childhood. That’s because within the Reform movement, despite its being America’s largest Jewish denomination, intensive Jewish education for children is almost nonexistent. Here in America’s largest Jewish city, there is but a single Reform Jewish day school (Manhattan’s Rodeph Shalom School). And that school stops at the eighth grade.

If the Reform movement established more all-day schools teaching what Rabbi Buchdahl rightly says Judaism offers — a life of beauty and purpose — Reform rabbis would face the dilemma of whether to officiate at an interfaith wedding much less frequently.


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