Shabbat Talmud Study: A Respectful, Thoughtful Values Conversation on Intermarriage


Shabbat morning, November 11, 8:30 – 9:30 am

In our democracy, and in our shul, a crucial question is: “What do you think is right? What do you think we should do?” That question summons forth a conversation about values, and what to do when values are in creative tension with one another—when the desire to be fully present for this interfaith couple and this family (members of Temple Emanuel) is in creative tension with our desire to promote the ideal that marriage is between two Jews.

This is a complex question, and it stirs deep emotion on all sides. Over the next three weeks, we will continue our series with three different lenses.

This coming Shabbat we will study the Conservative movement’s recent Pastoral Letter, which brings the movement’s practice officially in line with what we have been doing for the last number of years.  Namely, the Pastoral Letter advocates that we treat an interfaith couple like a Jewish-Jewish couple in all respects except that clergy cannot officiate.  What arguments does the Pastoral Letter make for saying no to officiation?  Do you find those arguments compelling?  What are the benefits, and the costs and consequences, of adhering to this traditional stricture?

On Shabbat November 18, Rabbi Robinson will state her case for adhering to the traditional stricture against officiating while embracing the many other ways to welcome an interfaith couple that we have been doing and that the Pastoral Letter encourages us to continue to do.

Finally, on Shabbat November 25, we will study a piece by Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie entitled “Joy: A Proposal,” in which he argues that clergy should be able to officiate at intermarriage.  This is new thinking, very different from the Pastoral Letter, for which Rabbi Lau-Lavie had to leave the Conservative movement.  I will hand out the 46-page proposal on Shabbat so that you can have a couple of weeks to read it through.

I will of course adhere to the decision of our congregation, whatever it decides.  I have my own thoughts, but I am invested in our congregation facing the hard and complex issues of our time and thinking them through honestly, thoughtfully, respectfully, and carefully.

The harder the question-and this is among our hardest questions-the more urgent it is that we have a context to surface a serious conversation over: what do you think?

See you in the Rabbi Chiel Sanctuary at 8:30.

Shabbat shalom,
Wes