I read with great interest “Clarion call to Conservative rabbis” (Oct. 26) dealing with a pastoral letter that I and others signed reaffirming both Conservative Judaism’s commitment to rabbinic officiation of marriages between two Jews and our commitment to welcome interfaith couples and their families into our congregations and communities.
I was dismayed to see Rabbi Jesse Olitzky of South Orange’s Congregation Beth El described as an “outlier” in terms of welcoming interfaith couples into our communities and houses of worship.
I applaud Rabbi Olitzky’s work on behalf of his congregants; he and his community are thriving, but by no means is he an outlier. As we wrote in our pastoral letter, Conservative rabbis and their congregations work tirelessly with interfaith couples before, after, and during the wedding period to help them define their relationship to Judaism’s age-old covenant.
We have done so not only in Essex County but throughout North America, with Conservative rabbis guiding many couples on their Jewish journey — whether that includes conversion for the non-Jewish partner or not. We all work to embody the essence of an authentic and dynamic Judaism, finding unity in diversity, and celebrating differences in order to find wholeness.
I say that as head of USCJ (United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism), the network of 600 congregations in North America, but more importantly as a Caldwell resident proud of the authentic and dynamic Judaism we practice here in our New Jersey kehillot.
Rabbi Steven Wernick
Chief Executive Officer