Twenty-five years ago, Rabbi Jonathan Romain organised a seminar for couples where one partner was Jewish and the other not. Since then, more than 2,000 couples have participated in what became an annual programme.
But the Maidenhead Reform minister says that Sunday’s seminar at the Sternberg Centre in Finchley will be his last.
He is bowing out “partly because I think the job is largely done in terms of changing attitudes within British Jewry to being more inclusive. That applies not just to Reform and Liberal communities, but to Orthodoxy too. The days when rabbis slam the phone down on hearing news of an intermarriage are declining rapidly. Instead they try to reach out to such couples.”
Rabbi Romain has also become involved “in new issues. I have just become national co-ordinator for a group of clergy of different faiths lobbying Parliament to change the law regarding assisted dying. We want it permitted in very specific circumstances, such as mentally competent people who are suffering unbearably in the final stage of terminal illness and who repeatedly beg for assistance to end their lives.”
He reflected that the mixed-faith seminar had helped to “bring in from the cold many Jews who felt marginalised. Every year we found that over 50 per cent of those attending did not belong to a synagogue and I also know that many then went on to do so.
“So I am sure that some form of outreach will continue, even if in a different format.”