CCAR RESPONSA

American Reform Responsa

147. Prayer for Couple Contemplating Intermarriage

(1979)

QUESTION: May a rabbi recite a prayer at the regular synagogue service for a couple contemplating intermarriage? One of the parties is Christian.

ANSWER: Intermarriage is not normative within Judaism. Some deem such marriages as a sinful act regardless of who conducts them (Deut. 7:2; San. 82a; Sh.A., Even Haezer 16.1), or as not being Kiddushin (Yad., Hil. Ishut 15; Sh.A., Even Ha-ezer 154.23). All Reform Jews discourage them to the best of their ability. We could not then, in good conscience, offer public prayer for such a couple in advance of the wedding, as it is done for the marriage of two Jews at a public synagogue service, because such action would lend public approval to such a marriage lechatechila. We may, however, be willing to recognize such a marriage bedi-avad: accept the Jewish partner as a member of the congregation, do everything possible to make the non-Jewish partner feel at ease and at home in our midst, and raise their children as Jews. It is our duty to continue warning against the contemplated intermarriage. This is our task in this matter as in all other areas in which "warning" plays a major role. Judaism disapproves of intermarriage, and we should do everything possible to strengthen this position.

Walter Jacob, Chairman

Leonard S. Kravitz

Eugene J. Lipman

W. Gunther Plaut

Harry A. Roth

Rav A. Soloff

Bernard Zlotowitz

If needed, please consult Abbreviations used in CCAR Responsa.