JSLI policies and intermarriage

JSLI policies and intermarriage

Your article (“A new way to become a rabbi? Aug. 24) states that Blane “mandates a belief in intermarriage and a willingness to perform such ceremonies as a prerequisite for enrollment in JSLI.” This is not true. In fact, the JSLI policy is: “It is a core requirement that you are supportive of interfaith marriages.” This is a far cry from mandating that graduates be willing to perform these ceremonies. I suggest that any rabbi that is not willing to support intermarriages needs to think about the mitzvah of kiruv, bringing Jews closer to their Jewish heritage. Remember, in every interfaith family there are Jews, and they should not be forgotten! We JSLI ordinees are free to follow our own conscience.

As for the curriculum, there are actually many more classes than once a week. There are master classes with experienced rabbis on how to perform lifecycle events and there are weekly peer-lead classes that students must attend. Topics range from educational pedagogy to nusach to fundraising. All students must also do a research paper and display proficiency in leading services.

Many of the students are already functioning rabbis in synagogues. At least two (one from the first class and one from this weekend’s class) are rabbis for United Synagogue congregations. Many students are like myself, with a M.A. from JTS, a year of study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a year of chaplaincy work, numerous other trainings, and a dozen years of teaching and service leading in the Jewish community.

While JSLI allows me and others to have the title and legal status of rabbi, it is not the totality of our studies or experience.