9/30/2015 - From www.rrc.edu: "On September 21, 2015, RRC's faculty voted that having a non-Jewish partner wouly d no longer bar qualified applicants from admission to RRC or from graduating as rabbis. The policy change is the result of many years of discussion within the Reconstructionist movement."
A number of rabbinical schools have been considering shifts in their policies that would admit intermarried students (and students who are "inter-dating"). In September 2015, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College became the first to lift their ban.
Thoughts from the INJF:
Last week, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College announced that it would lift its ban on rabbinical students with non-Jewish partners. Yesterday, the Forward published an editorial by its editor-in-chief, Jane Eisner, arguing that this shift was ill-advised. Eisner writes that Rabbis should be "strong aspirational figures," and that, for Jews, marrying within the faith should be seen as one of the "best norms and intentions" that Rabbis should be expected to uphold.
Over the last century, American rabbis in mainstream non-Orthodox denominations have been expected to live Jewish lives that are profoundly different from those led by their congregants. On the evidence, it does not seem that very many congregants have been inspired to adopt a "normative" lifestyle as a result. RRC appears to be experimenting with another approach, one that resonates with Judaism Unbound's bottom-up point-of-view. If we believe that Jews can live rich, meaningful Jewish lives while married to non-Jews, then it would seem that rabbis can as well.
Judaism's "best norms and intentions" have shifted in profound ways over time, including the expectation that a good Jewish life can be lived only with a Jewish spouse. Perhaps these norms are shifting again. It might be that this new kind of rabbi is not the cause of the slippery slope that Eisner fears. Instead of shifting away from leadership, it might be that this decision merely offers a new way for rabbis to lead that we haven't seen before.
Coverage of the Policy Shift: