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Conservatives Urge ‘compassionate’ Outreach Policy on Conversion

The United Synagogue of America, the congregational organization of Conservative Judaism, has called for a compassionate policy toward non-Jewish spouses in mixed marriages out of principle and as a response to the Reform movement’s adoption of patrilineal descent as valid proof of Jewish identity.

The position was stated in a resolution approved at the quarterly International Board Meeting of the United Synagogue here June 7 and released the following week. It urged “the arms of the Conservative Movement to adopt an aggressive, active and compassionate conversion policy directed toward non-Jewish spouses, to be implemented and executed on a regional and local level, and that an accompanying outreach program be simultaneously initiated within the bounds of Conservative halacha, to deal with the mixed marriage issue.”

Franklin Kreutzer, international president of the 1.5-million-member Conservative Movement, said: “Stemming the tide of mixed marriages as we enter the 21st century is a major priority of the United Synagogue of America and Conservative Jews. Only through a caring, concerned, committed conversion policy which is aggressively and actively pursued and compassionate in nature can we meet head-on the Reform Movement’s abrogation of Jewish law and Jewish history,” he said.

Kreutzer defined the role of the United Synagogue as sensitizing its affiliated synagogues to insure that they initiate outreach programs and develop a method of operation that is consistent with halacha, with the ultimate goal of preserving Judaism for future generations.

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