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New approach to mixed faith marriage blessings

Last updated: 2003-04-16

We are pleased to announce a significant new development in the Liberal Judaism approach to mixed faith marriage blessings.

As part of an evolutionary process, the Rabbinic Conference of the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues has been reviewing the rules that have been in force for some years regarding rabbinic participation in blessings for mixed faith marriages. The major changes that have been agreed include allowing a blessing for such marriages to be given in a synagogue and for accepting the participation of a non-Jewish minister at those blessings. Until now, blessings have been carried out at the discretion of a rabbi, but not on synagogue premises.

These are natural developments given that most Liberal Synagogues already welcome non-Jewish spouses and partners as Friends or Associates. While these blessings remain an extension of our inclusive nature, they are not to be seen as Jewish weddings and have no status in either Jewish or civil law.

Liberal Judaism maintains its commitment to prioritise and encourage Jewish marriage through education and example. Where one of the partners is not Jewish we would, whenever appropriate stress the family, religious, and cultural advantages of the non-Jewish partner converting to Judaism.

Whether or not a Liberal Rabbi performs such an act of prayer or attends nuptial celebrations is to be determined by her or his individual conscience, with due regard to the lay leadership of the synagogue concerned and is subject to a range of restrictions.

For example, where one of the partners is not Jewish, the Jewish partner must be a member of a ULPS synagogue and the blessing ceremony can take place either in a synagogue building or on neutral ground. It is important that the liturgy and rituals should not in any way create the impression that the blessing ceremony constitutes a Jewish wedding and the Rabbi must be satisfied that, should there be children, the couple will be likely to bring them up as Jewish.

Liberal Judaism is committed to developing and sustaining Judaism for modernity and the future. We have learned from experience that when we embrace non-Jewish partners of Liberal Jews, we counter the effects of exclusion that lead to increasing levels of assimilation. We provide a platform for the whole family to commit to Jewish values and a Jewish way of life. Is that not worthy of a blessing?