Research: Reform 'rabbis' performing intermarriage up

US study shows overwhelming majority of Reform rabbis hold weddings for mixed couples.

Mordechai Sones - JTA,

Reform? Reconstructionist? Conservative?
Reform? Reconstructionist? Conservative?
Reuters

A study published in the United States reveals an overwhelming majority of Reform and Reconstructionist "rabbis" hold weddings for mixed couples, reports JTA.

According to the survey, 84% of Reform "rabbis" perform intermarriages, while 16% do not. Among Reconstructionists, 88% officiate at intermarriages and 12%. Eight Conservative "rabbis" of the 59 surveyed said they officiate at intermarriages despite a prohibition by their movement.

The findings represent a jump over the past two decades in the percentage of those performing intermarriages. In 1995, a survey of Reform and Reconstructionists found a combined 47% who would officiate at intermarriages.

A few years ago, a group of Israeli public opinion leaders visited Jewish communities in the United States as part of the Gvanim program of the Jewish community in San Francisco and returned with disturbing data about local assimilation.

Members of the group, including school principals, rabbis, and senior officials in the civil service, met with the heads of the Jewish communities and heard about their methods of dealing with assimilation and attempts to "attract" members of the community to their "temples" and synagogues.

The highlight of the group's meetings included a visit to Jewish communities in San Francisco and New York. According to one participant, the San Francisco Jewish community faces about 90% assimilation. "There are Jews who immigrated to San Francisco and thought they'd stay for only a few years and therefore didn't send their children to Jewish schools. After 20 years they realized their children were no longer Israeli and never received a Jewish education.

"Only 20% of the American Jewish community is affiliated with any stream. 80% aren't identified at all as Jews," he added, describing his impression: "For us it's disturbing because we're almost losing the Jewish majority in our large dispersion. We're now in an era of distress."

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