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Reform rabbis balance tradition and welcome

Today, at their regular monthly meeting, the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK voted in favour of a position paper that proposes a new method to confirm Jewish status for individuals with only one Jewish parent.

Reform synagogues will now respond according to their own timescale, in consultation with their Rabbi(s), to decide how they would like to use the proposals.

The position paper maintains a balance between Reform Judaism’s love of tradition and Judaism’s ability to evolve in response to the contemporary world. These new opportunities to welcome individuals into the community will have at their core Reform Judaism’s key values of inclusion and equality.

The proposals would mean that individuals who live a Jewish life, and who are patrilineally Jewish, can be welcomed into the Jewish community and confirmed as Jewish through an individual process. Rabbis would be able to take local decisions – ratified by the Beit Din – confirming Jewish status.

Rabbis began to look at the status decisions in the case of one-parent Jewish lineage having been asked to do so by synagogue members and the Reform youth movement, RSY-Netzer.

Rabbi Paul Freedman, Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK said: “We are proud to offer these new ways of welcoming people to our communities, just as we were proud to lead on equal marriage and on calling women to the bimah. The Assembly has stayed true to our core values, treasuring both Jewish tradition and Judaism’s ability to evolve in response to the contemporary world, as being inclusive and egalitarian.”

Robert Weiner, Chair of Reform Judaism, said: “I welcome the result of our rabbis’ deliberations and look forward to discussing how we can implement them in our communities.”

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