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One Jewish Parent Makes A Child Jewish!

Is a child of one Jewish parent and one non-Jewish parent Jewish? Yes!

Common sense tells us that the child of one Jewish parent and one non-Jewish parent who is welcomed into our community with Jewish ceremonies such as ritual circumcision or a ritual baby naming is, in fact, Jewish.

This has been commonly accepted among the vast majority of American Jews for decades. In 1968, the Reconstructionist Movement recognized this by stating explicitly that the Movement and all its constituents will consider such children as Jews and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association affirmed this position in 1979 in its “Guidelines on Conversion.” In 1983, the Reconstructionist Movement welcomed the decision of the Reform Movement to also adopt “patrilineal descent” as their policy. 

These decisions by Reconstructionist Judaism and Reform Judaism were, of course, criticized by those in the Orthodox camp. Among Conservative Jews there was certain ambivalence since their movement professes to adhere to tradition while striving to be modern. Officially, the institutions of Conservative Judaism rejected patrilineal descent, but we are all aware of many Conservative Jews who in practice accepted it.

I have maintained that the Conservative Movement will one day join Reconstructionism and Reform in accepting, not only de facto but also de jure, Jewish descent from either parent. When my Conservative friends scoff at this and say, “It’ll never happen!,” I remind them that 30 years ago that’s what was said about women rabbis in the Conservative Movement, and 10 years ago that what was said about gay and lesbian rabbis in the their movement.

Just as the Conservative Movement joined Reconstructionism and Reform in ordaining women rabbis and then gay and lesbian rabbis, I am certain that they will eventually join us in accepting patrilineal descent. The question is what are they waiting for? Why don’t they do it already and join the rest of the liberal, progressive Jewish community in welcoming as Jews the many children born to one Jewish parent? It’s about time!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

paul June 06, 2012 at 03:31 PM
To Elliot Skiddell: I am so sorry I did not read this sooner. You make it sound like the Reconstructionist movement is where jewish teaching should be at. If anyone finds this article as some kind of gospel you should be ashamed of yourself. Yes, I am tolerant of all aspects of life but when you even think that Reconstructionist Judaism is plausible is a shonda to all that jewish learning has to offer. One must make there own decisions in life "ONLY AFTER" knowing what the true meaning of being a jew and jewish law... To preach Reconstructionism is a disgrace. Because those who do not know any better will think you are the ones with all the answers. It is a modern made up set of beliefs, that bend and flex the rules to make them work for you. It may work fine in the workplace but as far as religion goes it is wrong and the same goes for Catholic teaching as well. I wonder if you even support a state of Israel or even side with Neturei Karta groups. ...
paul June 07, 2012 at 12:41 AM
From a definition of Reconstructionist Judaism: "There is substantial theological diversity within the movement. Halakha (jewish Law) is not considered binding, but is treated as a valuable cultural remnant that should be upheld unless there is reason for the contrary. The movement emphasizes positive views toward modernism, and has an approach to Jewish custom which aims toward communal decision making through a process of education and distillation of values from traditional Jewish sources." The above means you make it up as you go along to fit the needs of what people want today..... That is not what religion is all about
ftptch June 07, 2012 at 11:37 AM
news flash they are all cultlike. you said it best: "I still find it uncomfortable when someone marries outside of the religion" that is absolutely disgusting. who are you to influence who marries who
Bojames June 07, 2012 at 11:51 AM
There can never be religious dialog /debate that leaves the participants satisfied. The emotional,deeply rooted feelings associated with one's degree of "faith" will always get in the way of understanding the "others" and thus "they" will always have it wrong. This thread belongs in the local papers dedicated solely to Jewish life. I would like to see the Patch steer a more secular course.
jaimie milner June 08, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Given our history,we,as Jews,should be tolerant of all beliefs. The intolerance of the Orthodox is unacceptable in this modern world!!!

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