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A Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Pennsylvania has decided to accept students with non-Jewish partners, after a 2-year review of their policy.

Over two years ago the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, PA, began to seriously reconsider its standing on their “non-Jewish partner” policy. Many issues began to arise with the standing policy of rejecting students in committed relationships with non-Jewish partners. It left open many loopholes that seemed to discriminate against a faithful potential student wishing to enroll in the school. On September 30, 2015 the school had announced that it would now welcome students who were in relationships with those of another faith.

The policy had originally not permitted students who were in interfaith relationships to attend the school let alone graduate as a rabbi. This was met with resistance when other aspects began to come into light. If you were in a relationship that by chance had a close relative that was of the Jewish religion, even if your partner did not associate themselves as a Jew, then technically they could be considered Jewish and the student could attend the school. On the other hand if you were in a committed relationship with someone that had a strong connection to another faith but agreed to raise their children in the Jewish culture that student would still be denied. One student can get in even if their partner has no actual Jewish connection, while the other student who is willing to teach and practice the Jewish tradition but is not a convert is rejected. The new policy will allow students who are in committed relationships or married to individuals that are non-Jewish the opportunity to still enroll in the school.

The subject of interfaith relationships has been a long and heated subject among the Jewish community. Studies have shown that children will tend to not related or acknowledge their Jewish faith when they are a product of an interfaith marriage. It has been a long controversy and taboo topic in the community and conservative rabbis are not allowed to marry couples if one is not of the Jewish faith. Orthodox Jews neither allow interfaith marriages nor gay marriages. Conservation and Reform Judaism allow for gay marriages but they do not allow for interfaith marriages.

Reconstructionism has however, played a major role in redefining the cultural issues within the Jewish community. The focus is to change views on the female role in the Jewish faith as well as the acceptance of same-sex couples. It is the driving force behind the recent change in the Wyncote College policy. Many argued for years that the acceptance of interfaith marriages could in fact strengthen the Jewish faith and practice.

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