I have been meaning to write about this for a couple of days now. This story troubles me.
Rabbi Barry Tuchman has no congregation, no ties to a recognized Jewish movement and an ordination that was far outside the norm for American Jewish clergy.
But the interfaith couples who contact him don’t want to see his diploma. They want to know whether he’s willing to marry them. And Rabbi Barry, as he calls himself, is ready to oblige.
He officiates anywhere: in churches, alongside Christian clergy, on the Jewish Sabbath and at Roman Catholic weddings. A student of Shamanism, he can perform American Indian rituals, too.
“What I do,” Tuchman said, “is throw the liturgy out the window.”
Interfaith couples whose rabbis won’t marry them are going to the fringes of American Judaism to find someone who will. And there are plenty of rabbis for hire.
Rabbis with unconventional, even dubious, credentials will create ceremonies that can look Jewish, even if they’re not. Fees can run into the thousands of dollars, but business is booming. The rabbis have more work than they can handle.
“It’s religion in America for a new generation,” said Rabbi Richard Hirsh, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, which represents rabbis in his movement. “It’s pretty much an individual consumer culture of professional services. They are used to getting the services that they want.”
The intermarriage rate for U.S. Jews has been above 40 percent since at least the 1990s, according to researchers for the 2001 National Jewish Population Survey. As the rate has climbed, so too has pressure on pulpit rabbis to perform the ceremonies. Advocates for interfaith families say officiating at the weddings can increase the odds that couples will raise their children Jewish.
Most rabbis aren’t convinced.
The Conservative and Orthodox movements bar rabbis from performing the ceremonies.
For the full story please click here. Do you really want a hired gun to perform your marriage. And more importantly, who gets smicha to become rich.