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Dear Rabbi: Conversion and Intermarriage

Dear Rabbi,

I know that many rabbis will not officiate at an interfaith marriage. But if the non-Jewish partner has converted to Judaism, is that considered a legal, binding union in the Jewish faith? Will most rabbis officiate the marriage of a converted Jew to a Jew? Or it still considered "interfaith" if one of the partners was not a Jew by birth?

Thank you.

Shalom,

Francine

Dear Francine,

Thank you for your inquiry.

According to the Mishnah (one of the earliest codes of Jewish law, and the basis for the Talmud), a convert is a Jew no less than is a person born Jewish, and to remind a convert of their former status is a sin. Consequently a marriage between a Jew who was born Jewish and a Jew who chose Judaism is not an intermarriage at all, and would indeed be performed by a traditional rabbi in accordance with halakhah (Jewish law). If a Jew and a non-Jew marry and the non-Jew subsequently converts to Judaism, then the couple could choose to follow up with a religious Jewish wedding ceremony (chuppah ve-kiddushin).

B'virkat Shalom,

Rabbi Artson

All letters to Dear Rabbi require a name, address, and telephone number for purposes of verification. Our readers should know that when names are used in a letter, they are fictitious. Dear Rabbi welcomes your letters. Responses can be given only in the newspapers which carry Rabbi Artson's column. Mail letters to Dear Rabbi, c/o The Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air, California 90077-1599; or e-mail to bartson@uj.edu.

Hebrew for "sanctification," Jewish marriage is often referred to as Kiddushin, as one partner (traditionally, the bride) becomes "sanctified" (dedicated) to the other partner (traditionally, the groom). Hebrew for "canopy" or "covering," the structure (open on all four sides) under which a Jewish wedding ceremony takes place. In its simplest for, it consists of a cloth, sheet, or tallit stretched or supported over four poles. Hebrew for "repetition" (from the verb meaning "to study and review"), it refers to the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions ("Oral Torah"). Mishnah is the first post-biblical collection of Jewish legal materials, and the primary building block of the Talmud (the major collection of Jewish law), as interpreted by the rabbis. Hebrew for "instruction" or "learning," a central text of Judaism, recording the rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history. It has two parts: Mishnah (redacted c. 200 CE) and Gemara (c. 500 CE), an elucidation of the Mishnah. 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.
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson serves as the Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, and is the author of The Bedside Torah.

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