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RCJC ENewsletter 06-29-10

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Password doesn't work? That's because we have a great new social networking feature on our website that replaces our old password system. It's much more intuitive! Same privacy for clergy, and more features:

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June 29, 2010

Dear Friend,

I hope the start of your summer is going well. We've added six new articles since our last email newsletter in October. If you've already joined the†Resource Center for Jewish Clergy Private Group†on the Network, thank you! If you haven't, you'll need to in order to access the new material. is working with a marketing communications consultant, Rabinowitz/Dorf, who is taking a survey about responses to interfaith relationships. They are particularly interested in input from clergy. Anyone who takes the survey is eligible for a drawing to win a $100 AmEx gift card! Please take the survey at /userfeedback.

If You Haven't Already, Please Join the Resource Center for Jewish Clergy Private Group

Last August we launched our re-designed website with tools to help users--including clergy like you--personalize their experience and build communities online and in person. Our†Resource Center for Jewish Clergy (RCJC) is now a private "for clergy only" group on our new social Network.

You're receiving this email because you had a username and password that enabled you to access our RCJC materials under the previous system. Now, in order to access our "for clergy only" content--and to communicate with your clergy colleagues confidentially on intermarriage issues--you need to join our Network and then our RCJC Private Group.There is a†discussion going on right now where a Reconstructionist colleague is looking for written policies on participation in Torah rituals by people who are not Jewish -- we'd love to have your input!

Here are the steps:

  • Fill our our Jewish Clergy survey at if you have not done so already.
  • Join the Network by visiting
  • Confirm your membership (via an email in your inbox) and fill out as much information about yourself as possible. If you indicate that you are a rabbi or a cantor in the Profession section†we will send you an invitation to join the†RCJC Private Group.
  • Click on the link in the invitation and†you will become a member.

It's that simple.

The Network has many features that can help you attract participants to your organization and programs, and keep in touch with your community members. Our Network Director, Robin Schwartz, is on maternity leave until mid-August, but please email us at to learn how you can take advantage of everything has to offer.

New "For Clergy Only" Articles

Again, you'll need to be a Network member, and a member of the RCJC Private Group, and logged in, to see these "for clergy only" articles. You won't need a separate password--once you're part of the RCJC Private Group, one log-in will do it all.

Interfaith Outreach: A Rabbi's Personal Account is a delightful account by Rabbi Sarah Wolf, ordained in 2008 and now at†Congregation Beth Am†in Los Altos Hills Calf. Rabbi Wolf was raised "both" until she was eleven†-- the "embodiment of my classmates' worst fears," as she puts in, when she entered HUC. Her grandfather still says "Merry Christmas, Rabbi."

We have two letters to congregants from rabbis announcing changes in their position on officiation:

  • Rabbi Richard Block, a very senior Reform rabbi ordained in 1982, now at†The Temple-Tifereth Israel†in Cleveland, announcing a personal change of policy after almost thirty years as a rabbi, describes the issue of officiation for interfaith couples as "the hardest one that rabbis and cantors confront." Read Letter to the Congregation.†
  • Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, a Reform rabbi ordained in 2003, now at†Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek†in Chester Conn., writes: "Whereas I previously thought that I could say 'no' to an interfaith wedding but could successfully bring the couple into the life of the congregation, I have not found that to be the case. In fact, my policy has only served to close doors that I feel are my responsibility to open. I have come to believe that I can indeed officiate at authentically Jewish weddings for interfaith couples who have made certain commitments, and that by doing this, I am growing and strengthening the Jewish community." Read A Change in Policy.

A third rabbi, Yair Robinson, also ordained at HUC in 2003, now at†Congregation Beth Emeth†in Wilmington, Del., explains in Changes On Intermarriage Policy that while he is maintaining his own position not to officiate, the clergy and future clergy of his synagogue will be permitted to do so, under the conditions described in his article.

When Rabbi Amy Sapowith, the Associate Rabbi at Temple Sinai (Reform) in Rochester N.Y., decided that she would officiate at weddings of interfaith couples, she knew that she would be asked to resign from the Rochester Board of Rabbis. Her senior, Alan Katz, who does not officiate, also resigned. Read their†explanation to their congregants†of their change in policy.

Finally, we are pleased to reprint, with his permission, a Conservative colleague's views on The Importance of Keruv. Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, rabbi at†Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC,†writes, "The whole Jewish world is waking up to the reality of non-Jews in the fabric of Jewish life, and Adas Israel, I am proud to say, is on the cutting edge of this wave."

By the way, on the "public" part of"s site, you can read how Rabbi David Gruber officiated at a wedding attended by two Presidents Bush, in Hail to the Chiefs. We've also had some interesting posts on our†Network Blog since our last email newsletter:

We're also pleased to tell you about a new resource just published on our public site†--†A Shabbat Guide for Your Group of Friends (and Family). In partnership with Stepping Stones, we developed a guide that groups of friends could use to welcome Shabbat together. Our hope is that self-forming groups of interfaith couples will find this kind of resource helpful if they want to "do Jewish" together. We'd love to have you make it available to the people with whom you work†-- and we're interested in your feedback, too.

We Still Need Your Help offers a free, high-quality Jewish Clergy Officiation Referral Service. Demand for the service has grown†-- when we last wrote to you we were averaging 100 inquiries a month, more recently we've been averaging 140! If you don't officiate yourself but refer couples to others, or if a couple getting married at a distant location asks for your help, we'd be very grateful if you suggested that the couple use our service. All they need to do is fill out the form at If you'd like to know more about our service, please email me at

We are eager to include you in the Resource Center for Jewish Clergy Private Group†-- please join us today! And you can also help us out forwarding this email newsletter to your rabbi and cantor friends.
Many thanks!

Lev Baesh
Rabbi Lev Baesh
Director of the Resource Center for Jewish Clergy
(603)767-5265 | P.O. Box 428, Newton, MA 02464 | 617 581 6860 |†

Derived from the Greek word for "assembly," a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogue refers to both the room where prayer services are held and the building where it occurs. In Yiddish, "shul." Reform synagogues are often called "temple." A member of the Jewish clergy who leads a congregation in songful prayer. ("Hazzan" in Hebrew.) Hebrew for "my master," the term refers to a spiritual leader and teacher of Torah. Often, but not always, a rabbi is the leader of a synagogue congregation. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), or the scroll that contains them.
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