Young couple dating
Young couple dating Thinkstock

In a controversial yet subtle move, United Synagogue Youth (USY) passed a new resolution that drops the binding "expectation" that leaders will not date non-Jews, and replaces it with a "recogni[tion of] the importance of dating within the Jewish community."

USY is the youth movement of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The new amendment was adopted this week at USY's annual international convention in Atlanta. 

In practice, while until now members were prevented from serving in regional leadership positions if they dated non-Jews, the new amendment means that this criterion is no longer binding.

JTA cited the example of a USY member from Maryland who said she considered running for her region's board, until she learned that the now-changed USY rules precluded her from doing so because she has a non-Jewish boyfriend. Under the new resolution, she and others like her would be allowed to serve as USY leaders.

Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, was quoted by JTA as saying, "Encouraging Jews to marry other Jews is the most successful path toward creating committed Jewish homes."

"At the same time, we can’t put our heads in the sand about the fact that we live in an incredibly free society, where even committed Jews will marry outside the faith. If they do, we must welcome them wholeheartedly and encourage them to embrace Judaism," he added.

Rabbi Elan Adler, a pulpit rabbi for 25 years in American Orthodox synagogues who made Aliyah 5 years ago, told Arutz Sheva in response to Rabbi Wernick's words: "As traditional Jews, we keep our heads well out of the sand, in our wide-ranging contacts with people of other beliefs."

"At the same time, to paraphrase a book title from 20 years ago, intermarriage begins with an inter-date. The only way to guarantee a Jewish future and prevent assimilation is to ensure zero tolerance for inter-dating," said the rabbi.

The seminal 2013 Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jewry found that among Jewish respondents who have gotten married since 2000, nearly six-in-ten have a non-Jewish spouse.