MAY 24, 2018 – BEVERLY – A famous ad campaign of many years ago proclaimed” “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s” rye bread. In more recent times, apparently one need not be Jewish to be a member of a synagogue.
At Temple B’nai Abraham of Beverly’s Annual Congregational Meeting on May 17, the 75 or so members who voted, unanimously amended the temple bylaws to allow membership and limited, non-ritual related voting privileges to the non-Jewish spouse or partner in an interfaith household.
With a growing number of interfaith families choosing to affiliate with a synagogue, last year the umbrella body for Conservative synagogues approved a resolution to allow individual congregations to decide whether to grant membership to non-Jews.
Following the lead of other congregations, Temple B’nai Abraham – which is unaffiliated but follows the principles of the Conservative Judaism – has now included in its governing document the phrase K’rovei Yisrael which has been defined as “close to the Jewish people.” Rabbi Alison Adler and a focus group made up of Board members and interfaith couples recommended this change.
According to TBA president Ken Hartman, “Spouses and partners of our interfaith families contribute significantly to our community. They’ve always been thought of as a part of our family and now with this change to our bylaws, we can formally recognize their place as members of Temple B’nai Abraham.”
Tim Averill, who along with wife Lauren and their daughters has been part of the TBA family for many years, embraced the bylaw change. “It is gratifying that as a non-Jewish spouse of a Jewish member, I will now be encouraged to be even more engaged as a voting member of the Temple. While there are still many details to be worked out, it is clear that TBA is very inclusive and welcoming to all people who wish to be part of a vibrant community.”