Jewish Identity, Belonging, and Community
CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION
BJ’s Commitment to Building the Jewish Future
Dear BJ Community,
For the past year, we have been engaged in a serious examination and inclusive dialogue about contemporary Jewish identity, belonging, and community.
Grounded in both Jewish tradition and the inclusiveness that are fundamental to BJ’s identity – and informed by you, our members, as our partners – BJ is embracing a significant change in how we approach the future of Jewish life.
Our commitment as rabbis is to guide all members of BJ – individuals, couples and families – in strengthening your connection to Judaism. We are excited to launch a new initiative, The Jewish Home Project, which will provide all members with enhanced resources and programs to assist you in creating and strengthening vibrant Jewish families and shaping BJ’s next generation. We are implementing a shift in emphasis in the way we relate to all BJ members and families, including how we invite in interfaith couples who have made the conscious choice to lead Jewish lives.
Beginning in 2018, we plan to celebrate and officiate at the weddings of interfaith couples who are committed to creating Jewish homes and raising any children as Jews. Drawing from traditional Jewish sources, rituals and symbols, we will create a new Jewish wedding ceremony for these couples.
We will continue to hold to the traditional matrilineal definition of Jewishness. We are not prepared to depart from k’lal Yisrael (the total Jewish community) by independently adopting a different approach in defining Jewish identity. In other words, we are not changing the halakha definition of who is a Jew. As rabbis, we have the space to decide whom we officiate for, and there is no concern about the validity of such marriages in the larger Jewish world. However, we don’t want to put BJ members in the situation of having their Jewish identity questioned or contested beyond the BJ community.
We take these steps with deep loyalty to the Jewish past and with unwavering commitment to the Jewish future. We will embrace a renewed sense of inclusiveness toward those who seek to be part of our community.
Thank you for joining us in this journey with open hearts and minds. We know it has been an intense year, and it has been extremely moving to see so many of you involved in our ongoing process.
We know that these decisions will affect BJ members in many different ways. As always, our doors are open for questions and conversation. In the coming weeks, we look forward to hosting BJ gatherings to discuss next steps.
We want to thank the members of our JIBC Task Force led by Moshe Horn and Robin Fleischner, as well as the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, Adena Phillips Consulting, and Resetting the Table, for their invaluable partnership in the Jewish Identity, Belonging, and Community process.
It is our privilege to continue to build and grow the BJ family.
Together, may we go from strength to strength,
Rabbis Roly Matalon, Marcelo Bronstein, and Felicia Sol
The JIBC program was developed by B’nai Jeshurun in partnership with: