Should rabbis date non-Jews? asks the Forward.
That's my answer to one of the latest issues to distract the Jewish community from more pressing issues at hand, like making Torah relevant, preserving the Hebrew language, engaging Israel in a meaningful way, connecting to God, and strengthening people's connection to Jewish history, culture and civilization where spirituality doesn't satisfy.
But using the pulpit to say that rabbinical students are being discriminated against because their spouses have not converted to Judaism?
Give me a break.
Rabbi-to-be Dan Kirzane has been making the rounds with this argument which frankly, embarrases me as a rabbi who represents both an open approach to intermarried families as well as a principled approach to representing the Jewish tradition more broadly among all the Jewish people--not only Reform Jews. More succinctly, Kirzane's position makes us look bad.
Like a lot of people who choose the rabbinate, Kirzane confuses his role as a Jewish leader, not able to avoid the pitfall wherein lay leaders and clergy live by the same rules. We don't. Rabbis are supposed represent the aspirations of the tradition and living Jewish lives as Jews is one of them.
One core principle of his argument--that there exists a "double-standard" between Reform synagogues that allow lay leaders to be intermarried and HUC-JIR, which trains rabbis, cantors and educators and does not--is most illustrative of the flaws in his thinking.
While it's true that Judaism's core values of Shabbat, Torah, Hebrew prayer, and mitzvot can, in theory, be performed by anyone in a family regardless of religious status, the rabbi is expected to model another value: the Jewish people.
A potential rabbinical student married to or dating a non-Jew needs to have the courage and the principles to state unequivocally to his or her partner, "Please become a Jew. Being a Jew is the most important thing in the world to me and I want you to share that destiny with me."
That statement to a loved one is, to my mind, the most compelling form of "outreach" we possess.