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Inclusive Community

 

KOL ECHAD (EVERYONE, EVERY VOICE)

 

A GUIDE FOR INCLUSION AT RUMSON JEWISH CENTER AT CONGREGATION B’NAI ISRAEL

 

Introduction  Since 2021, Rumson Jewish Center at Congregation B’nai Israel of Rumson has sought to increase its practices of inclusivity in response not only to the changing nature of families in the community and society but also as our understanding of interfaith relationships (in which one party is of a faith different than Judaism, or of no faith) and the diverse understanding of what constitutes “family” has evolved.  Conservative Judaism has, from the beginning, sought to blend sacred tradition with evolving human understanding (hence the original name “Positive Historical” Judaism) and this effort is no exception and part of this almost two hundred year old trend.

What follows is hopefully a helpful and useful guide to the positive role that every individual can play in the life and ongoing development of the Rumson Jewish Center, in keeping with prophet Isaiah who declared “My house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples” (56:7).

 

 

Definition of Family

We affirm in our community that the term “family” can have many meanings.  A “family” can be defined as a man and a woman with children or without children, a single person with a child or without, or two adults of the same gender living as a couple with or without children.  A person who affirms a gender identity not assigned to them at birth is equally considered a family whether or not they have a partner or children. 

 

We consider our doors open to all who seek spiritual and intellectual fulfillment, as well as the support of community.  People who are not of the Jewish faith, or not yet of the Jewish faith, or those who are married or partnered with Jews should feel that they too, may seek spiritual fulfillment and community within our walls.  While certain ritual practices are reserved for those born Jewish or who have chosen Judaism later in life, all are welcome and all are embraced as fellow spiritual seekers and travelers on a spiritual path.

 

We welcome those of different faiths to join in worship.  Someone not a Jew by birth or a Jew by choice may participate in many aspects of worship, including during life cycle events such as B’nai Mitzvah.   They may accompany the Jewish partner to the Torah for an Aliyah and may recite the blessings along with the Jewish partner.   They may speak from the bimah and may perform any number of readings typically done during our worship services.   Together with the Jewish partner they may kindle shabbat lights, stand with their child as the Torah is passed to them during a B’nai Mitzvah, open the Ark, and dress the Torah.  Only those few actions in which the performer of the action does so on behalf of the entire community are limited to those born Jewish or those who have chosen Judaism.  Examples include, leading Kiddush on Shabbat, reciting an Aliyah to the Torah alone, leading certain key prayers, and sounding the shofar on behalf of the entire community.  In keeping with Conservative Jewish practice, a child may become Bar or Bat Mitzvah if they are born to a Jewish mother or choose Judaism through a brief conversion ceremony prior to the life cycle event.  For a potential Bar Mitzvah, circumcision at birth is typically considered “leshem giyur” (in preparation for conversion) and therefore symbolic circumcision (hatafat dam brit) is NOT required for male children.

 

Couples preparing for marriage in which one partner is of a faith different from Judaism may have their upcoming union marked by an aufruf on the bimah, a ceremony prior to the wedding that includes a special blessing from the Rabbi.   Since wedding officiation is a deeply personal issue, a couple is strongly encouraged to speak to the Rabbi to discuss their options for officiation at the wedding itself.

 

A couple in which one partner is of a different faith may have the Rabbi officiate at a baby naming or brit milah.

 

At the end of life, a partner who is not of the Jewish faith may be interred in the B’nai Israel cemetery, provided that they meet all the requirements and criteria as set by the Cemetery committee (as all members must do).

 

Rumson Jewish Center at Congregation B’nai Israel strives to be an inclusive community, one that embraces all who come to its doors.  We hope that this brief guide is helpful to families who are choosing a spiritual home.

 

Fri, July 12 2024 6 Tammuz 5784