Reconstructionists to accept rabbinical applicants with non-Jewish partners
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Reconstructionists to accept rabbinical applicants with non-Jewish partners

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. (Courtesy of Recontructionist Rabbinical College)

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. (Courtesy of Recontructionist Rabbinical College)

(JTA) — The Reconstructionist movement will accept rabbinical applicants who have non-Jewish partners.

A ban on such applicants, last reaffirmed in 2002, was revoked by the Reconstructionist Religious College following a faculty vote last week, the seminary said in a news release Wednesday. The statement said the suburban Philadelphia school’s “Non-Jewish Partner” policy has been under review since 2010.

“Our deliberations, heavily influenced through consultation with alumni, congregations and students, have simultaneously led us to reaffirm that all rabbinical candidates must model commitment to Judaism in their communal, personal, and family lives,” Rabbi Deborah Waxman, the college’s president, said in the statement. “We witness Jews with non-Jewish partners demonstrating these commitments every day in many Jewish communities.”

In a conference call with reporters, Waxman said that part of the impetus came from a number of students at the college who partnered with non-Jews during their studies. The seminary graduates eight to 10 rabbis a year.

Rabbi Deborah Waxman (Courtesy of Reconstructionist Rabbinical College)

Rabbi Deborah Waxman (Courtesy of Reconstructionist Rabbinical College)

She said it was important for rabbis to model “openness and transparency and consistency in their lives,” and also allow students to “bring their full lives to their training as rabbis.”

Additionally, Waxman said, the movement had lost out on superb applicants because of the ban.

“We have had to turn away wonderful students who would have made wonderful rabbis,” she said.

Reconstructionism is the fourth largest movement of American Judaism.