In a recent essay, Amichai Lau-Lavie, a rabbi ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary, has proposed a way for his fellow rabbis in the Conservative movement to condone, and even perform, intermarriages under certain circumstances. Julie Schonfeld is unconvinced:
[Lau-Lavie] notes that his paper is not a t’shuvah or rabbinic responsum per se. . . . It is [nonetheless] framed in rabbinic terminology and style. But the literary device of saying “this is not a t’shuvah” should not conceal the fact that it cannot be [one], because such an enterprise cannot succeed. The reason a Conservative rabbi cannot officiate at the wedding between a Jew and a non-Jew is not because he or she doesn’t love and care about [the couple] enough. Rather it is because a commitment to the halakhic framework makes this impossible. . . .
Judaism, as a continuous 3,000-year-old tradition, promotes the highly countercultural idea . . . that [there is] special opportunity for spiritual and moral growth in the maintenance and appreciation of boundaries—whether regarding time, food, consumption, moral conduct, and even relationships. . . . Those boundaries include the reservation of Jewish rituals that are the explicit performance of Jewish commitments to Jews.
Rabbi Lau-Lavie opens his paper speaking of the pain he felt when saying no to couples whose weddings he could not officiate. Indeed, the anguish felt by couples in love, their extended families, and the rabbi who cannot perform an interfaith wedding is very real. But there is a group of people, a rather large group, whose feelings were conspicuously absent from this paper. Those are the people who, seeking an open but traditional Jewish community, count on the Conservative rabbinate to maintain the halakhic framework and the network of Conservative communities, synagogues, camps, and schools which they call home.