JIBC was a yearlong process that created a forum for the BJ community to discuss and grapple with the changing needs of our community and the realities of American Jewish life today. Beginning in 2016, the BJ community engaged in a serious examination and inclusive dialogue about contemporary Jewish identity, belonging, and community. The Jewish Home Project was born out of this process.
Grounded in both Jewish tradition and the inclusiveness that are fundamental to BJ’s identity—and informed by our members, as our partners—BJ embraced significant changes in how we approach the future of Jewish life.
It is the commitment of our rabbis to guide all members of BJ—individuals, couples, and families—in strengthening our shared connection to Judaism. As a result of this yearlong process, BJ launched a new initiative in 2018: The Jewish Home Project, which provides our community with enhanced resources and programs to assist in creating and strengthening vibrant Jewish families and shaping BJ’s next generation. Part of this commitment is 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.
We are proud 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.
Our commitment is to be inclusive and embracing, even as we articulate the boundaries within which our commitment can flourish. Still, many of the relevant halakhic issues continue to evolve, and we remain open to new scholarship as it further illuminates these sacred questions and resolutions.
Please be in contact with the BJ rabbis to inquire about any situation or details not fully addressed by this outline. We are here for the community and will be happy to set up a time to discuss any of these matters further.
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.