CARR 290-291


Contemporary American Reform Responsa

196. Twenty-fifth Anniversary of a Mixed


QUESTION: A couple, in which the husband is Jewish and wife

is Christian, has been happily married for twenty-five years. Their children have been raised as

Jews and the oldest among them is now a member of the congregation. The family has

participated in the life of the congregation in every way, including a term of service by the

husband on the Board of the Congregation. The rabbi is a friend of the couple. The couple was

originally married by a judge. Now they have asked the rabbi to participate in the anniversary

celebration by performing a service of rededication, before a party at home, after twenty-five

years. Should the rabbi participate or should he decline on the grounds that he does not officiate

at mixed marriages? (J. F., Miami, FL) ANSWER: There is, of course, nothing in

the traditional literature which deals with this subject. For a full discussion of mixed marriage and

the halakhic basis for not officiating, let me refer you to the resolutions of the C.C.A.R.

and W. Jacob, American Reform Responsa (#148 ff). There is also no discussion in any

literature about a ceremony of rededication. Nothing akin to it seems to have been used in the

past. As the couple has participated actively in the congregation throughout their married life,

this might be an appropriate time to suggest the conversion of the non-Jewish spouse, especially

as her entire family is Jewish. Under these circumstances, no formal period of study would be

necessary; conversion would indicate official acceptance into the Jewish community. Following

that, a marriage ceremony, with appropriate modifications, could take place. If the

non-Jewish spouse does not wish to convert, a simple prayer of rededication, rather than a

service, would be appropriate; the rabbi may participate in the private setting. We make this

decision on the principle that lehat-hilah, we can not officiate in a mixed marriage, but

bediavad, we will accept the couple, work with them and help them lead a Jewish life.

The occasion should have no overtones of a marriage ceremony and should stress the couple’s

participation in Jewish life and in the congregation. Everything should be done in a way which

would stress that there has been no change in the rabbi’s policy on mixed marriage, nor should it

have the appearance of representing any change.October 1984

If needed, please consult Abbreviations used in CCAR Responsa.