As a Reconstructionist rabbi, I don’t know how the faculty of the seminary that ordained me will ultimately decide the policy question [over ordaining intermarried rabbis] though I have deeply appreciated the depth of study, discussion, and rabbinic debate that has informed hundreds of conversations on the subject (“Will Other Movements Follow?” Aug. 21).
I very much respect the integrity of Rabbi Aaron Panken’s decision [opposing ordaining intermarried rabbis], which couldn’t have been easy, and I admire that he and others in the leadership of the Reform movement took the time to listen to many viewpoints, explore Jewish texts, and examine sociological shifts in American Jewish life in the course of weighing the question. I happen to be a rabbi who is hoping that RRC (Reconstructionist Rabbinical College) will arrive at the opposite conclusion and change its admissions policy, but whether that happens or not, what’s most important to me is that a process of deep examination similar to the process that Rabbi Panken described has characterized RRC’s approach to this issue.
Second, I respectfully disagree with the quote attributed to Rabbi Steven Wernick, which portrays the RRC as contemplating a change in its admissions policy as a desperation move seeking to bolster enrollment. Having been a part of countless discussions and forums within the movement, and knowing many of the faculty involved in the process, I can say for a fact that that characterization is inaccurate. The issue has been part of robust discussion, group study, and ongoing debate in the Reconstructionist community, including the seminary, going back to the late 1990s, when I was a student and was personally involved in many discussions on the question.