Downton Abbey Portrays Reality of Interfaith RelationshipsBy Gerri Miller
Go inside Season 5 Episode 9 where the story line of Atticus and Rose's interfaith relationship comes to a head.Go To Pop Culture
What is InterfaithFamily.com?
InterfaithFamily.com, Inc. is the online resource for interfaith families exploring Jewish life and the grass-roots advocate for a welcoming Jewish community. This resource is for everyone touched by interfaith relationships where one partner is Jewish, on every topic of interest to them, and for everyone who works with and cares about them.
InterfaithFamily.com is an independent non-profit publisher and advocacy organization. It is the only national organization that focuses exclusively on reaching out directly to people in interfaith relationships.
InterfaithFamily.com engages in three areas of activity: education, connetion, and advocacy. Our long-term objective is to build a world class web based resource that:
What is the organization's mission?
nterfaithFamily.com empowers people in interfaith relationships -- individuals, couples, families and their children -- to make Jewish choices, and encourages Jewish communities to welcome them. We believe that maximizing the number of interfaith families who find fulfillment in Jewish life and raise their children as Jews is essential to the future strength and vitality of the Jewish community. Through our website and other programs, we provide useful educational information and resources, connect interfaith families to each other and to local Jewish communities, and advocate for inclusive attitudes, policies and practices.
Who sponsors it?
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, InterfaithFamily.com depends on tax-deductible charitable contributions and grants for its funding to make our work possible. We have enjoyed the support of an involved Board of Directors, an Advisory Board, and other generous individuals, as well as institutional Funders including the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston, the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, the Koret Foundation, the Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Jesse and Julie Rasch Foundation, the Skirball Foundation, the Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation, the Picower Foundation, the Slingshot Fund, the Natan Fund, the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, the Jack and Goldie Wolfe Miller Family Foundation, and the Jim Joseph Foundation.
If InterfaithFamily.com is a non-profit, why doesn't it have a .org URL?
Our mission is to reach as many people in interfaith relationships as we can. People don't visit .org websites as much as .com websites, that's the reason our URL is a .com. Many other non-profits have .com URL's; there is no requirement that non-profits have .org URL's.
Why is it important for the Jewish community to welcome interfaith families?
The debate in the Jewish community about what to do about the continuing high rate of intermarriage continues. The important issue remains whether we will respond positively and seek to increase the numbers of interfaith families -- 60% in Boston, where the community actively reaches out to interfaith families, as compared to 33% nationally -- who raise their children as Jews. The key is to maximize efforts to welcome interfaith families. InterfaithFamily.com is a major voice in the debate, speaking out on behalf of interfaith families and stressing their potentially positive impact on the Jewish community.
Interfaith families connect with Jewish life at varied times and in random ways, a variety that highlights the importance of always standing ready to capitalize on opportunities to welcome. They connect before weddings, when children are born or start school or reach Bar/Bat Mitzvah age, when they go to college, and later. They read articles and books; they see advertisements for outreach programs in Jewish newspapers or parenting magazines or in emails forwarded by friends or in Temple bulletins; they find a welcome as a young adult at their college Hillel, or as a young mother in her child's Jewish pre-school; they are put in touch with someone who welcomes them.
Traditionally, kol yisrael areivim zeh l'zeh, every Jew is responsible for every other Jew. To strengthen the Jewish community by increasing the participation of interfaith families, every Jew also should be responsible to be aware of and sensitive to, and to take advantage of, every opportunity to invite interfaith families into Jewish life. Or, as one InterfaithFamily.com writer put it, "to put a bit more faith into interfaith marriages."
What role is InterfaithFamily.com playing in advocating that the Jewish community welcome interfaith families?
Our position remains unique among the national organizations working to make the Jewish communal response to intermarriage a positive one. InterfaithFamily.com is the only national organization that focuses on reaching, working with and encouraging interfaith families themselves, and advocating on a grass-roots level as their "voice"--a voice that must continue to be heard.
We recommend that families choose one religious identity for their children, while honoring the traditions of the non-Jewish parent (for example, participating in Christmas and Easter celebrations). We recommend against trying to blend religions or raising children as "both." Conversion is a wonderful personal choice but our goal is increase the number of children raised as Jews in interfaith families, not to increase the number of converts to Judaism. We support rabbis who officiate at intermarriages and encourage more to do so. We are in favor of increasing the opportunities for non-Jewish parents raising Jewish children to participate in synagogue ritual and leadership and all aspects of Jewish life. And we are in favor of a major investment of resources to greatly expand programs of outreach to interfaith families.
How does InterfaithFamily.com fit in with mainstream Jewish organizations?
InterfaithFamily.com works closely with other Jewish organizations, including many Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist synagogues, the United Jewish Communities, the Jewish Community Centers Association, the Association of Jewish Family & Children's Agencies, and many federations and organizations including Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston, the Jewish Outreach Institute, the Stepping Stones National Institute, BBYO, Hillel, birthright israel Next, and more.