June 12, 2007
A Reform rabbi will soon begin offering online advice for interfaith couples who want Jewish weddings.
InterfaithFamily.com, a support and resource center for intermarried families, has hired Rabbi Lev Baesh as its first Rabbinic Circle director. The 1994 graduate of Hebrew Union College begins work July 9.
Baesh's main tasks will be referring interfaith couples to rabbis who will officiate at their wedding and running a listserv for rabbis to discuss the issue and share practical tips. "We are responding to a demonstrated need," says InterfaithFamily.com President Ed Case, who says he receives about 60 requests a month from interfaith couples looking for officiating rabbis. "No one else in the Jewish community has been both willing to take this issue on and able to offer a high-quality, well publicized, free referral service."
Case says this service differs from the "rent-a-rabbi" phenomenon because the rabbis on Baesh's list are all carefully vetted, and couples will be steered toward their local synagogues. The listserv, Case says, is envisioned as a safe space for rabbis to explore their positions on officiating at intermarriages. "Our intention is not to tell rabbis that they should officiate, or pressure them to do so," Case insists.
The Reform movement's rabbinic association officially discourages intermarriage, but leaves it to the discretion of individual rabbis whether or not to officiate at interfaith weddings. Conservative and Orthodox rabbis are barred from doing so.