Category Archives: Interfaith

Do You Look Jewish?

IMG_0162The obvious first reply to this is, “What does a Jew look like?” Certainly, in the time that interfaith marriage has been a force in the Jewish world, the answer to this question has undergone some change. But is it really any different than any other mixing of heritages?

When we visited Ellis Island and walked through the exhibits, it struck me that the photos of the people from each individual country shared many similarities. You could say, with some degree of accuracy, “That person looks Italian.” Fast forward to today. I’m Italian. I’m also French-Canadian. I’m also Jewish, albeit by choice. So no. I don’t look Jewish. Then again, not all Jews are from Eastern Europe these days.  Continue reading

What Does it Mean to be Welcoming

WELCOME_sI’ve been part of the interfaith community for many years. I’ve felt comfortable, uncomfortable, welcome, tolerated, and most points between on the spectrum. I can tell you which things left me feeling more or less comfortable. I can even give you a definition-in-progress of what I would consider a welcoming congregation. What I hadn’t thought of before last night, is how many aspects of welcome are universal.

Why are we making it so complicated when we sit together as Jews to assess how welcoming our congregations are? Why are we trying to look at ourselves through the eyes of others – especially others who are coming to us from a world view we have not experienced firsthand? Why are we making this such a Herculean task? Continue reading

Interfaith Couple – Interfaith Family?

I blog about Judaism for interfaith families. What that means to me is that, whether or not the person who was not born Jewish has converted, will convert, or never converts, is not the point. The point is that the family itself is an interfaith family because extended family is not all of the Jewish faith. As a result, interfaith issues come up throughout the lifetime of the marriage as different life cycle events occur and/or other changes take place in the lives of the couple, their children, and their extended families. These families have a need for information and a context for some of the Jewish rituals and events they will celebrate.

Interfaith couples are couples in which there is one Jew and one person of another faith. Their need for information and guidance if they choose to make Jewish choices and raise Jewish children is a vital need. They must be able to access that information without having to change who they are or battle institutional insensitivity along the way.   Continue reading

Welcoming Interfaith Families Recap

Napkin 2 03-19-13 5.58.42 PMI attended the Welcoming Interfaith Families program today. Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, it included speakers from a number of organizations involved in various forms of outreach to interfaith couples. There was also a break out session for the discussion of a variety of topics, as well as an opportunity for all those in attendance to ask questions and offer comments. The take away for me was that times are changing – for the better.   Continue reading

Interfaith? Plans for Sunday?

Napkin 2 03-19-13 5.58.53 PM

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is hosting an afternoon dedicated to exploring ways in which the Jewish community can be an inviting place for interfaith couples and families. The event will include a variety of perspectives, news of initiatives at the local and national level, and a play about interfaith couples. Dr. Erica Brown, Scholar-in-Residence at the Federation, will lead a conversation on what the Jewish community can do to welcome interfaith families. Continue reading

Welcoming Interfaith Families

Napkin 2 03-19-13 5.58.53 PM

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is hosting an afternoon dedicated to exploring ways in which the Jewish community can be an inviting place for interfaith couples and families. The event will include a variety of perspectives, news of initiatives at the local and national level, and a play about interfaith couples. Dr. Erica Brown, Scholar-in-Residence at the Federation, will lead a conversation on what the Jewish community can do to welcome interfaith families. Continue reading

Thin Skin and Interfaith Marriage

Sad_sThin skin and interfaith marriage do not make for a healthy combination. I know this because when I was first married, and then again when I was first converted, I’m pretty sure I was the Princess and the Pea of anything to do with interfaith life. I also know, given my personal history, I came by this honestly. But really. That wasn’t who I wanted to be. I’ve worked hard to appreciate that the things that seem insensitive to me are often parts of a religion that does not actively seek converts, working to find a way to integrate people from a variety of backgrounds into their religious life. At this point, I get it that it’s not easy on either side. Continue reading

The Annual Women’s Seder and My Catholic Grandmother

So. I decided I would go to the annual women’s seder at our temple this year. I tend to shy away from these events because it is usually uncomfortable when “my slip shows,”  but I decided to expect the best. Plus, I was meeting up with a good friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I was kind of looking forward to it.

By the afternoon, I started to feel a bit anxious. Memories of past forays into the halls of  Sisterhood rushed back. I took a walk and drank a lot of water. Then I got this email: “Ladies-The theme of the Women’s Seder this year is Memories. We would like you to bring an artifact (piece of jewelry, photograph, wine cup, etc.) that is in memory of a significant (Jewish) woman in your life. If you do not have an artifact, then just bring the story…”  Continue reading