מעיד אני עלי את השמים ואת הארץ בין גוי ובין ישראל בין איש ובין אשה בין
עבד בין שפחה הכל לפי מעשה שעושה כך רוח הקודש שורה עלין
Behold I stand to call upon heaven and earth (to witness) that a person, whether Gentile or Jew, man or woman, slave or free man, according to the deeds he does the spirit of G-d rests upon him. Tana D’bei Eliyahu Rabba 10:1
The Non-Jew in the Shul
CONSERVATIVE – Most liberal
Conservative rabbis cite the Mekhilta on the idea that there are “different categories of non-Jews in their relationship with the God of Israel and the people of Israel”:One shall say “I am the Lord’s” (Isaiah 44:5), that is: All of me is the Lord’s and there is no admixture of sin in me. Another shall call himself by the name of Jacob (ibid.), these are the righteous proselytes. And another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord (ibid.). These are the repentant sinners; and surname himself by the name of Israel (ibid.), these are the God-fearing ones (literally, fearers of heaven).Mekhitla, Mishpatim, Tractate Nezikin XVIIIThe responsum concludes that there was a category (between Jews and pagans) comprised of gentiles who regarded Judaism as a great ideal, but who did not accept the requirements to become gerei tzedek, full proselytes. They were known as “God Fearers” (yirei HaShem) or “Fearers of Heaven” (yirei shamayim), and were found in the synagogues throughout the ancient Diaspora.It further suggested re’ah as a possible category for the position of our non-Jewish members. The command to “love your neighbor [re’acha] as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) linguistically parallels that verse from Deuteronomy (“love the ger”).
RECONSTRUCTIONIST – More liberal than Reform
A Reconstructionist Task Force issued a major position paper on Boundaries and Opportunities: The Role of Non-Jews in JRF Congregations. Non-Jews are allowed to be members under circumscribed conditions – when they are married to Jews or are former spouses of Jews co-raising Jewish children– the Task Force recommends barring these non-Jewish members from holding top offices, chairing important committees, or participating fully in certain aspects of ritual, such as leading public worship or aliyot.
REFORM – More restrictive than Reconstructionist or Conservative
In a responsum on “Gentiles in a Jewish Congregation”, Reform states that, "We cannot include [an unconverted non-Jew] in our membership. This would after all, entail their participation in every aspect of synagogue life, the right to lead services, the right to help determine policy or synagogue members. It would be inappropriate to have unconverted Gentiles participate in these aspects of congregation life."  However, the non-Jewish widow of a Jewish man may donate the funds to build a religious school and administrative wing of a synagogue, which will bear the name of the Jew and non-Jew. See also: “Gentile Participation in Synagogue Ritual,” CCAR Responsa, Contemporary American Reform Responsa, http://data.ccarnet.org/cgi-bin/respdisp.pl?file=5&year=5754
ORTHODOX As Rabbi Daniel Siegel has pointed out, some Orthodox thinkers define all Jews as falling into two categories: frum [observant from an Orthodox perspective] or “not yet frum.”Bnai Noach:7 Noachide laws (called sheva mitzvoth bnai noach) define the path that God gave to the non-Jewish peoples of the world (Mishna Torah, Melakhim 8:11), and it is a path that has an integrated relationship with the Jewish path: “The Children of Noah are co-religionists of the Children of Israel,” says one Orthodox source.7 Mitzvot:Just Laws, prohibit blasphemy, idolatry, sexual immorality, murder, theft, eating the limb of a living animal.
 “Gentiles in a Jewish Congregation”, Contemporary American Reform Responsa of the CCAR, http://www.data.ccarnet.org/cgi-bin/respdisp.pl?file=161&year=carr.
 “Naming a Building After a Non-Jew”, Contemporary American Reform Responsa of the CCAR, http://www.data.ccarnet.org/cgi-bin/respdisp.pl?file=144&year=carr.
 “The Non-Jewish Spouse and Children of a Mixed Marriage in the Synagogue,” Rabbi Kassel Abelson, The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, Rabbinical Assembly, 1988.
If you have specific questions about the ger toshav, you may contact Rabbi Chava Bahle at email@example.com
We appreciate R. Bahle allowing us to post excerpts on this topic.
Conservative rabbis point to a motivation for welcoming reyim: that, if treated equitably, eventually they might become Jews, and this, along with the addition of Jewish children, is in the interests of the Jewish community. For example, non-Jews are “associate members” in some Conservative shuls (i.e. Netivot Shalom).TERMINOLOGY