(JTA) – Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, the liberal Orthodox rabbinical seminary, released a statement stressing its opposition to intermarriage following an essay by one of its graduates advocating welcoming intermarried couples.
The statement, issued Friday, reiterates the school’s blanket ban on its rabbis performing intermarriages but supports conversion for “sincere” candidates. It also notes the need to find a way to welcome intermarried couples while still “doing everything we can to prevent” intermarriage.
“Besides intermarriage being strictly prohibited halachically, it poses grave danger to Jewish continuity,” the statement says, using the Hebrew term for Jewish law. “Needless to say, we strictly forbid any of our rabbis to perform intermarriages. We do, however, advocate working very hard to convert anyone who sincerely wants to join the Jewish people.”
The statement comes following an op-ed by Chovevei Torah graduate Rabbi Avram Mlotek in the New York Jewish Week, published Tuesday, that advocates Orthodox and Conservative communities adopting a welcoming attitude toward intermarried couples, similar to the Reform movement’s stance.
Mlotek, who serves as a mentor to groups of intermarried couples in New York City, also called for liberalizing traditional Judaism’s “highly divisive conversion practices.”
“While the Reform movement has the most welcoming posture towards families with non-Jewish partners, the Conservative and Modern Orthodox worlds would be well served if they adopted a similar approach,” Mlotek wrote. “If our traditional communities do not learn how to adapt to modernity and cater religiously to different people’s needs, Judaism risks nearing its extinction date.”