Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Understanding intermarriage/Keruv

With nearly half of all Jews marrying a non-Jew, few people in our Conservative congregations do not have an intermarried family member. Yet until recently, the issues surrounding intermarriage were rarely acknowledged in Conservative synagogues. Moreover, intermarried families who chose to affiliate predominantly were choosing Reform congregations where outreach programs were more common and synagogue policies often were more appealing.

The FJMC Keruv Initiative, started in 2001 by the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, serves the needs of our congregations in several ways. Keruv (which means bringing closer – drawing near) programming provides opportunities for congregants to explore issues relating to intermarriage in a safe and supportive environment. The establishment of a synagogue Keruv Committee fosters a culture change that makes the congregation more appealing to present and potential members with diverse backgrounds.

As Rabbi Charles Simon, FJMC executive director, has said: “If we are concerned with the future of Conservative Judaism and fail to act proactively, then our movement will be condemned to a diminishing future.”

The FJMC Keruv Initiative provides training for consultants and rabbis interested in providing a more welcoming and inclusive community. For more than 10 years, we have directed our training toward individual synagogues. Over 200 rabbis have attended Rabbinic Think Tanks conducted by Rabbi Simon and more than 100 lay volunteers have been trained as consultants to partner with their rabbis in this important endeavor. We are now expanding the initiative to focus on regional training during the year and more advanced training, with consultants and rabbi’s sharing ideas, at the end of the year. We are changing the culture of Conservative Judaism.

If you are interested in joining our team and bringing this most wonderful FJMC initiative to your community, please contact Doug Segerman, president of the KIO region, at, or Dr. Gary Smith, national and KIO regional Keruv co-chairperson, at

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