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What Does the RRA Think About the New Partner Policy Announcement?

September 30, 2015

What’s the RRA’s position on RRC’s historic decision to admit students and graduate rabbis with non-Jewish partners?

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association recognizes the RRC’s historic decision to admit and graduate students into the rabbinical program who have non-Jewish partners and affirms the faculty’s authority to make such a decision. We appreciate the deliberative, thoughtful and inclusive process that led to today’s announcement. The RRC faculty and administration took on a timely and challenging debate, one that will certainly spark further discussion, celebration, and concern. We commend their commitment to the process of Reconstructionist decision-making, and their diligence in weighing the impact of even raising the issue.

Close to one third of the association’s membership participated in discussion forums or provided direct feedback to the faculty during their inquiry into this issue. Opinions within the association fall on either side of the debate. As Nina recently said in an interview, there is not consensus among our membership about this issue. Opinions range, she said, “from people who feel this is a change that is long overdue and really reflects their understanding of Reconstructionist values and a Reconstructionist lens on Judaism, to rabbis who feel really strongly that the Jewish value of fostering marriage between two Jews is essential to the continuity of the Jewish people and that rabbis who choose to partner have the responsibility to reflect that.” 

We recognize that this decision will be welcome for many of you and a cause for concern for others. We imagine that there will be ample discussion about how this impacts us going forward. The policy of the RRA regarding membership has not changed, nor is the board considering a change at this point. As a reminder our membership guidelines currently state: “Rabbinic graduates of the RRC are invited to full membership upon graduation from RRC and are normally admitted upon application up to one year from graduation.”

Please contact Elyse or Nina if you have any questions.


Rabbi Nina Mandel                    Rabbi Elyse Wechterman
President                                  Executive Director

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