Masorti Judaism has stressed it remains “committed to the traditional, matrilineal definition of Jewish status” after the Reform Movement opened the door to people with a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother being granted Jewish status without a full conversion.
The new proposals from the assembly of reform Rabbis mean individuals who live a Jewish life but are only patrilineally Jewish will be confirmed as Jewish through an “individual process”. Rabbis would then take decisions on a case-by-case basis confirming Jewish status.
But appearing to reject the move, Masorti chief executive Matt Plen said: “Masorti Judaism recognises the value in having a diverse Jewish community with different approaches to the tradition. Our own approach is to be as inclusive as possible within the framework of Jewish law and we are committed to the traditional, matrilineal definition of Jewish status.
“At the same time, the Masorti Bet Din seeks to enable people to convert to Judaism in a way which complies with halachic requirements and takes into account the unique circumstances of each individual. This sensitivity is particularly important when dealing with someone who has been brought up Jewish and already identifies as a member of the Jewish community.”
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism, said of the proposed new methods: “We are enabling more people to claim their Judaism with a process that has integrity.”
Rabbi Paul Freedman, Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK, said: “We are proud to offer these new ways of welcoming people to our communities, just as we were proud to lead on equal marriage and on calling women to the bimah. The Assembly has stayed true to our core values, treasuring both Jewish tradition and Judaism’s ability to evolve in response to the contemporary world, as being inclusive and egalitarian.”
Robert Weiner, Chair of Reform Judaism, said: “I welcome the result of our rabbis’ deliberations and look forward to discussing how we can implement them in our communities.”