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RCJC ENewsletter 10-20-09

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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:

If what we do helps you or others you care about, please make a tax-deductible charitable contribution in support of our work.



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October 20, 2009

Dear Friend,

I hope your new year is off to a very good start. We have some important news for you about's re-designed website, a request for your help, and information about the many new articles and video for clergy that we’ve added since our last email newsletter in May.

wow, new website!Our Re-designed Website

At the end of 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. We have a new Network with social networking features, and our Resource Center for Jewish Clergy (RCJC) is now a private "for clergy only" group on the Network.

You are receiving this email because you had a username and password to access our RCJC materials--but they no longer work. 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.

Here are the steps:

  • Join the Network by visiting
  • Confirm your membership (via an email in your inbox) and fill out as much information about yourself as possible. By indicating that you are a rabbi or a cantor we will automatically add you to the RCJC Private Group.

It's that simple.

Our Network has many features that can help you attract participants to your organization and programs, and keep in touch with your community members. Please contact our Network Director, Robin Schwartz at (617) 581-6862 or to learn how you can take advantage of everything has to offer.

Man Helps You UpWe Need Your Help

As you know, offers a free, high-quality Jewish Clergy Officiation Referral Service. We are responding to over 100 requests a month for help finding a rabbi or cantor to officiate at weddings of interfaith couples. Our funders would like to see us respond to more requests, so we're asking for your help. 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 /findarabbi. If you'd like to know more about our service, please email me at

Also, a site called GreatNonprofits is running a Jewish Choice Awards contest. The eight Jewish non-profits with the most positive reviews by October 31st will be featured by GreatNonprofits and Guidestar, which could help us obtain much needed funding! To help IFF win, submit a review by clicking here. Remember, the deadline is October 31st.

writing a letterNew "For Clergy Only" Articles

You'll need to be a site member and logged in to see articles in the Clergy-Only section. You don't need a separate password--one log-in will do it all.

Longtime rabbi of Temple Micah in Washington, D.C., Rabbi Daniel Zemel shares his very powerful letter to his congregation, A Letter to My Congregants, explaining why he changed his position on officiation. "I believe that a vibrant, new, American Judaism over the next 60 years can be constructed just as effectively with a non-Jewish parent in the home, as with two Jewish parents."

We are pleased to reprint, with Rabbi David Lerner’s permission, his important New York Jewish Week op-ed,  Making a “Right Turn” on Intermarriage. In our first offering by a Conservative colleague, Rabbi Lerner explains how his congregation has developed ways to include non-Jewish parents while remaining faithful to halacha, and asks whether Conservative rabbis can create some ceremony to recognize intermarried couples who commit to raising their children as Jews.

We are also pleased to reprint our first offering by an Orthodox colleague. In Intermarriage Nemesis, Rabbi Hyim Shafner writes that "As an Orthodox rabbi, I believe Jews should marry other Jews. Nevertheless, I think we do damage to the Jewish people if we react to intermarriage today no differently that we did in the past generation."

We also have two new articles by Atlanta colleagues. Rabbi Steven Lebow explains Why I Officiate, And Co-officiate, At Interfaith Weddings: "I have married hundreds of interfaith couples over the years and most of them have become very active in my current synagogue." In  A Letter to Temple Sinai Congregants, Rabbis Ronald Segal and Bradley Levenberg explain the conditions on which they will officiate.

Rabbi David Gruber describes his journey from Orthodoxy to secular humanism in Out of Orthodoxy: Why This Former Orthodox Rabbi Will Officiate at Interfaith Marriages.

Finally, I offer my own thinking on Why Couples Don't Want Congregational Rabbis--and What You Can Do About It.

video cameraNew Video on Officiation

In an engaging video interview, Rabbi Howard Berman, executive director of the Society for Classical Reform Judaism, provides the fascinating historical perspective of his 35 year career working with interfaith couples, and describes the unique liturgical approach he uses with them. Don't miss A Non-Denominational Jewish-Based Ceremony.

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 by sending the link to this email newsletter to your rabbi and cantor friends.

Many thanks!

Lev Baesh
Rabbi Lev Baesh
Director of the Resource Center for Jewish Clergy
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." Hebrew for "Jewish law," it's the body of Jewish religious law including biblical law (those commandments found in the Torah), later Talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions. 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.
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