Article Discussion: Speaking as a (Non-)Jewish Parent

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This topic has 3 voices, contains 3 replies, and was last updated by  Debbie B. 7 years ago.

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May 5, 2010 at 4:00 am #4608


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May 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm #4626

Diane W

My Conservative synagogue permits non-Jews to speak from the bima, so at a recent interfaith Bat Mitzvah, the non-Jewish dad made a brief speech when both parents gave their daughter her tallit. The non-Jewish dad and his parents returned to the bima for the Torah pass, although they did not actually handle the Torah, and the dad was again on the bima for his wife’s aliyah, but stood back from the Torah and did not say the blessings. At the end of services, the non-Jewish dad and his parents were back on the bima for kiddush. It was lovely.

May 11, 2010 at 4:15 pm #4627

Celia Rodee

Thankfully our reformed synagogue does not prohibit the non Jewish parent from participating on the bimah in providing the parent blessing. For both my son’s bar mitzvah in 2005 and my daughter’s bat mitzvah this year, this has been one of the most meaningful parts of the ceremony. While as a non-Jew, I do not make an aliyah, nor do I touch the torah, my integral role as a parent raising my child to appreciate their judaism in an interfaith household is recognized and celebrated by our rabbis and our congregation. It has made all the difference for our family as we navigate our interfaith path.

May 12, 2010 at 12:28 am #4633

Debbie B.

There is no halachic prohibition for non-Jews to touch a Torah, or at least the Torah cover, as it is paraded past the congregation at the beginning and end of the Torah service. Before I converted, I always touched the Torah cover when it passed by, usually with my siddur, but also sometimes with my hand. No one in my minyan minded that at all. These days, I wear a tallit for services so I use the corner of my tallit to touch the Torah cover.

Celia, if you want to touch the Torah cover, you might check first with the rabbi of your synagogue to make sure it is OK, but I’m sure that any prohibition that the synagogue might have about that is purely minhag (custom), not halacha.

On the other hand, as a non-Jew I could not carry the Torah and I look forward to doing so for the next Simchat Torah. I missed celebrating that holiday as a Jew this year because I attended a Reform service for a bat mitzvah for the end of Sukkot and was affected by the difference in Reform and Conservative (or Orthodox) observances of the holiday outside of Israel (7 vs 8 days).

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