Love and Religion

Interfaith Consultation for Jews and their Families

New Workshop! Interfaith Families: Creating New Traditions

I am excited to announce that I will be running a new workshop at Adas Israel in December 2014, “Interfaith Families: Creating New Traditions.” This workshop will be three sessions, and each session will feature discussion topics that are relevant to interfaith families. Topics will include: Gains and Losses: In every interfaith family, whether the person of another faith converts or not, there are feelings of loss related to one’s family of origin. You are raising your children different from them. On the other hand, there are gains. You are being welcomed into a new community, your spouse is appreciative for what you are doing for him or her and the children, and you are helping to bring more Jews into the world. You are carrying out one of the basic principles of Judaism, a mitzvah, and a good deed!  Awkward Situations: What do you do when you have a question and don’t know the answer? What do you do when you feel uncomfortable in a situation? e.g. you are the person of another faith and your father-in-law hands you a Tallit and suggests you might want to wear it the next time you are in synagogue.  Core values and beliefs: Why are we raising […] Read More >
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An evening of Storytelling About Interfaith Families and Their Jewish Journeys: Recap

A little known fact about Adas Israel Congregation, is that we have over 90 families in our conservative congregation who identify as interfaith. It is part of Adas Israel’s mission to integrate this group into the many facets of synagogue life, and so on December 15th Adas Israel hosted its first storytelling event that focused on interfaith families. Ten people volunteered, okay, were persuaded, to present their narratives. Each of these couples was, at one time, composed of a Jewish partner and a partner of another faith. Some have become Jews-by-choice, and some have not converted, but all are raising their children Jewish. Nine of the couples had participated in my “Love and Religion” Workshop, and one couple was in the very first session I ran 19 years ago! Each person had 5 minutes to present his or her story, and what incredible stories they were! The themes ranged from “forbidden fruit” to how “conversions can make many generations of Jews” to “what do you get when you mix an Irish Catholic with an Israeli Jew.” The audience laughed and sighed–some stories were sad, some were happy, some focused on issues still out there to be addressed, and some talked about […] Read More >
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Frequently Asked Questions Part Four

Interfaith couples often ask me questions about what they should expect as they embark on their Jewish journey. Some of the questions are unique to a particular couple’s situation, some questions all couples can relate to, and often times, the questions have more than one answer. While all of the couples are unique, I have noticed they all those who attend my workshop have one thing in common–they all want a religious life. This is the last installment in my frequently asked questions series! If I didn’t answer your question please reach out to me via  email or Facebook! Question 7: As an interfaith couple, will the Jewish community accept us and include us? It depends! Over the past twenty years, there is no question that the issue of outreach to intermarried couples and families is on every Jewish community’s agenda. Recently, Washington DC and New York City held conferences addressing this issue and called for community attention to providing coordinated services to interfaith couples. However, keep in mind not all communities are the same! You have to do your own research and make sure that the synagogue or temple you go to has a stated policy of welcoming and […] Read More >
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Frequently Asked Questions Part Three

Interfaith couples often ask me questions about what they should expect as they embark on their Jewish journey. Some of the questions are unique to a particular couple’s situation, some questions all couples can relate to, and often times, the questions have more than one answer. While all of the couples are unique, I have noticed they all those who attend my workshop have one thing in common–they all want a religious life. Over the next couple of weeks I am going to post the questions I get asked most frequently with my answers. Don’t see your question? Feel free to reach out and ask me via email or Facebook! Question 5: What happens if we decide to raise our children in both of our religions? Choosing how you want religion experienced in your home is a personal choice, and it is a choice that should not be made lightly. Some couples decide that raising their children in two religions is the right choice for them. There are many resources that can help you if you choose to take this path. For example, the Dovetail Institute for Interfaith Family Resources is a national organization that addresses this issue. My approach […] Read More >
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Frequently Asked Questions Part Two

Interfaith couples often ask me questions about what they should expect as they embark on their Jewish journey. Some of the questions are unique to a particular couple’s situation, some questions all couples can relate to, and often times, the questions have more than one answer. While all of the couples are unique, I have noticed they all those who attend my workshop have one thing in common–they all want a religious life. Over the next couple of weeks I am going to post the questions I get asked most frequently with my answers. Don’t see your question? Feel free to reach out and ask me via email or Facebook! Question 3: How soon in a relationship do you broach the topic of an interfaith future with your significant other? It is never too early to address religion, especially if your religious identity is important to you! Here is an example: A young Jewish man with a strong religious identity went on a date with a Christian woman. He really liked this young woman, and could see having a future with her, so he decided to discuss religion with her right away. Before their first date was over, he brought […] Read More >
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Frequently Asked Questions Part One

Interfaith couples often ask me questions about what they should expect as they embark on their Jewish journey. Some of the questions are unique to a particular couple’s situation, some questions all couples can relate to, and often times, the questions have more than one answer. While all of the couples are unique, I have noticed they all  those who attend my workshop have one thing in common–they all want a religious life. Over the next couple of weeks I am going to post the questions I get asked most frequently with my answers. Don’t see your question? Feel free to reach out and ask me via email or Facebook! Question 1: What will we get out of coming to “Love and Religion: An Interfaith Workshop for Jews and Their Partners”? You will meet other couples that are like you, and who are looking for answers to similar questions. Each workshop session has a specific topic, I lead off the discussion and then ask some questions for each of you to think about and answer. There is always plenty of time for each person to present their ideas, address their concerns and to ask questions. Question 2: What can we […] Read More >
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It’s Summer–Have fun with your grandchildren!

As grandparents we have our own hopes and dreams for our grandchildren. We want them to keep close to us through memories that we build with them, memories about religion, travel, education, humor, and all of the other experiences we have shared. Some experiences require much planning, while others are spontaneous and simple, and often the most important experiences are based in ritual. I am defining ritual as, “an activity that gets repeated over and over so that the grandchildren expect it, enjoy it, and remember it fondly. Rituals could include watching your grandchildren recite the Shabbat blessings by themselves, buying ice cream cones at the same corner store every year, or going to every opening baseball game. Below are my tips for making memories with your grandchildren: 1. Teach your grandchildren a new skill, one that they will remember that you taught them. For example, I taught my eldest granddaughter how to kayak. It is something that I love to do, and now we can kayak together on the Winooski River in Vermont (which she used to call the Minooski River). 2. Discover something new together. Present your grandchildren with options of places they have never visited, and let […] Read More >
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Naomi Riley

Interfaith Marriage and Naomi Schaefer Riley

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Naomi Schaefer Riley speak with Rabbi Shira Stuttman. It was a very interesting evening filled with provocative statistics. Ms. Riley is the author of, “‘Til Faith Do Us Part”, a new book that looks at how interfaith marriage is transforming America. The rate of interfaith marriage in America is now about 50% across all faiths; Riley attributes this to the attitude of openness between the different religious communities in America.   One third of all Americans switch religions in their lifetime. This is definitely an unexpected and curious finding. According to Riley, this represents the strength of American fiber and the capacity for people to grow, manage change, adopt new beliefs, and flourish. These facts might be seen as a positive result of our country’s ability to incorporate people of all faiths into the fabric of our society, however, this might not be the case for the individual families within each faith. In my nineteen years of working with Jewish Interfaith Couples, I have found them to be forthcoming about wanting Jewish children, but rarely has conversion been part of the conversation. Perhaps Riley’s finding that between 30 and 40% of Americans change […] Read More >
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A Little Bit of Background

For those of you who were not able to attend the fabulous event at the Jewish Federation of Washington last month – I’ve decided to post my slides, which introduce and provide background on my Love and Religion workshop. Please take a look at them – and if you see anything here that interests you, please get in touch! Power point for_april_28-2 from JewishInterfaithCouples Read More >
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A Brief Encounter

Tonight was the last session of my “Love and Religion” group at the Washington DCJCC. I don’t usually blog about the last session but for some reason, I feel the need to blog about this one. Is it because the evaluations were excellent, or was it that I had an observer in the class who wants to facilitate the workshop in Vermont? It might be all of these, but I think it is because of the conversation that I had with Ellie Greenberg as I walked into the building. Ellie has recently taken a job at the Jewish Federation and he was at the JCC to run a program that taught young couples how to make challah. This immediately sparked my interest and, I asked him if we could do this at one of my Love and Religion Workshops. We were on a roll, and we knew we could figure out a way to work together in the future. What a satisfying encounter! Read More >
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