Jewish seminary changes eligibility rules

WYNCOTE A Montgomery County rabbinic college will become the first Jewish seminary to ordain rabbis whose spouses or partners are not Jewish.

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote announced Wednesday that it had revoked its "non-Jewish-partner" policy, which prevented potential rabbis from entering the college or graduating if they were in a relationship with someone who was not Jewish.

"The status of a partner does not automatically enhance or undermine a student's passion for bringing to life meaningful Judaism," said Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president of the college.

The faculty vote to accept students with non-Jewish partners came after more than two years of debate.

Waxman said she did not know what impact the change would have on enrollment in the college, which ordains as many as 10 rabbis per year. But she said the admissions office had reported turning away potential students in interfaith relationships. Students who entered interfaith relationships while in the five- to six-year program were previously barred from graduating.

"Things happen. People fall in love," Waxman said Wednesday. "Policing boundaries drains our energies and deflects resources." - Laura McCrystal