Sunday, February 12, 2006


Not sure how I feel about this idea, recently getting increased discussion within the Union of Reform Judaism. The head of the movement is trying to get synagogues to talk to the non-Jewish members of mixed marriages about converting to Judaism. I understand all of the arguments for this -- that mixed marriages often produce children who do not end up practicing Jews, and that that is a death knell for an already tiny religion -- but it has the uncomfortable smell of proselytizing, which is totally inappropriate.

Synagogues have a responsibility to encourage mixed-religion couples to raise their children Jewish, but this new push goes against the cornerstone of Reform Judaism -- educated choice (the movement doesn't always live up to the ideal, but it's a great ideal). Reform Jews are supposed to learn about and try Jewish traditions -- koshrut, observing Shabbat, etc. -- and choose to do what is meaningful and spiritual to them. Synagogues should certainly offer classes to show the non-Jewish members of mixed couples what Judaism is all about, but going out of the way to convince them to convert makes me uncomfortable.


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