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Rabbinical college ends spouse rule for students

    Leo Baeck College can no longer require married rabbinic students to have a Jewish spouse or partner because of equality laws, the JC has learned.

    The Progressive academy in London quietly introduced the change two years ago after taking legal advice.

    In the past, applicants were told that if they had a non-Jewish partner, they could not be accepted for rabbinic training. But this condition is no longer included in the application forms filled in by rabbinic candidates.

    Principal Rabbi Deborah Kahn-Harris confirmed that in 2011 the LBC altered the admissions criteria for rabbinic students, “having considered the relevant UK law in this area”.

    More light, however, has been shed on the situation by Rabbi Michael Marmur, provost of Hebrew Union College in the United States, which is reviewing its own admissions policy.

    “It is interesting to note that, as I understand it, in a European seminary affiliated with the Reform movement,” he wrote in a discussion paper, “a change in the policy was brought about not as a result of an internal change of heart, but because of advice from legal counsel.

    “That seminary was externally coerced, and not necessarily internally convinced.”

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