Voice of the Jewish News: Would you give this idea your blessing?
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Voice of the Jewish News: Would you give this idea your blessing?

After Liberal Judaism agreed to conduct wedding blessings under a chuppah for mixed faith couples, we reflect on why this will mean so much to so many, even if not everyone agrees

Jewish News

In a move so divisive that non-progressive movements refused to even dignify it with a response, liberal rabbis are to give Jewish marriage blessings beneath a traditional chuppah to mixed-faith couples. The decision, announced at last weekend’s Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors, comes into effect for Simchat Torah this weekend and will be a first for a British Jewish movement.

Liberal Judaism makes a virtue out of openness and inclusivity. As Rabbi Danny Rich, the movement’s vice-president, puts it in this week’s Jewish News: “The destiny of Judaism was never to be merely a tribal faith; its raison d’etre is to bring the message of ‘one humanity under one God’ to the peoples of the world.”

The movement sees itself as a prime mover in rethinking and redefining Judaism in the modern world. Following the 2004 Civil Partnership Act, it was the first to publish a service of commitment for same-sex couples, and in 2017 it introduced ‘inclusive’ ketubot (marriage documents) for same-sex couples who do not wish to be referred to as ‘bride’ and ‘groom’.

This week’s Jewish News

Of course, what progressives see as innovation conservatives will condemn as watering down. Liberal Judaism comprises just 10 percent of the UK Jewish community. To a great many of the remaining 90 percent, mixed-faith chuppah weddings will be an alienating, even offensive concept – one that betrays the fundamental tenets of the faith.  

Yet, clearly, this bold and enterprising move will mean so much to so many. As Liberal Judaism’s chair Ruth Seager, who has been married to husband Andrew since 1983, says: “The community is giving Andrew the welcome he deserved 38 years ago.”

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