It wasn’t joy, it wasn’t excitement, it was relief that overwhelmed me when I learned today that Reconstructionist rabbinical students could become rabbis regardless of the religion of their partners. In fact, the statement made it clear that, at one point in time, a qualified student could be denied school acceptance if their partner was not Jewish. This was a move to end that practice. I was relieved for a number of reasons. To know that quality rabbis were being denied access to rabbinical school is just heartbreaking. I cannot think of a time when we will not be in need of inspiring teachers and leaders. It hurts to know that someone could actively be denied that opportunity, and that our community could be denied that gift.
I spent the first night of Chanukah this year at Coolidge Corner in Brookline, MA. This was the Boston-area location for the multi-city #ChanukahAction: A Jewish Day of Action to End Police Violence event. I had a number of anxieties in advance, but it proved to be a powerful evening with moments of hope and inspiration.
My concerns began with a Facebook event wall littered with infighting that I feared would travel offline to the actual event. Could we focus on one issue, and keep the focus away from ourselves? Could we raise awareness in our own community without silencing and ignoring those who have already been marginalized? I had been to a protest organized by Black Lives Matter Boston in November, organized and led by people of color. I recognized why Jews needed to rally around the cause, but it was unclear how. Frankly, could we do this without damaging the larger movement?