Interfaith Friendship

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This topic has 2 voices, contains 3 replies, and was last updated by  Dawn Kepler 7 years ago.

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June 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm #4723


I have a very dear friend who is Jewish, part of the Reform movement; and is married to a non-Jew. I am not Jewish, though I am surprised to find that my personal beliefs fall in line with Judaism most of the time. We live in an area with a very small Jewish community and I can see how hard it is for my friend, especially during the holiday season. What support can a non-Jewish friend offer to a somewhat isolated Jewish person?

June 14, 2010 at 8:53 pm #4733

Baya Clare

Here’s a little story that I hope will be helpful:
I am a (Catholic) sister. My community runs a home for women in major life transition. For many years, most of the residents have been women fleeing persecution in their home countries. Most of them have come from Africa and SE Asia. About 25 women can live there at a time. Some years ago there was a woman from Cambodia who was here as an asylum-seeker. She was very bright and ambitious and determined to make a good, new life for herself here, and worked very hard to learn English, etc. She eventually became a citizen, got a college degree and bought a house, in fact.
However, when her mother died unexpectedly in Cambodia and she wasn’t able to go there, she felt very sad and isolated. The thing that bothered her the most was that she wouldn’t be able to perform the customary Cambodian Buddhist funeral rituals that she believed would help her mother move into the next phase of existence. When she told one of the sisters in the house about how sad she was to be so far away and unable to do that, the sister asked her if it would be permissible for some of the people in the house to perform the ritual with her here in the US.  She thought about it a bit and said that she thought it would be ok, so the sister found a little group of people who were willing to observe the 7 day rite with her.
It was a very healing and empowering experience for the resident, and in fact for all of the participants.
I wonder if your friend would be open to hosting some Shabbos meals or a Passover celebration with some of her friends who aren’t Jewish, if there aren’t any other Jewish people around. I expect she or you could find a little group of people who’d be happy to participate, celebrate and learn with your friend. It could be a really good experience, as it was for the woman from Cambodia.
I hope it works out for your friend.

June 14, 2010 at 10:11 pm #4734


That is a fantatic experience. I will definitely ask her if she is willing to share some of her traditions with me. Thank you for the advice.

June 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm #4783

Dawn Kepler

Baya Clare’s idea is a very good one.  Kara, I don’t know whether your friend feels competent to “do” Jewish.  Sometimes that holds a Jewish person back because they are afraid to “do it wrong.”  If she is worried about this you could learn a bit about Shabbat and ask her to teach you more.  Together you can “make mistakes” and laugh about them.  Make challah together.  Baking is so fun and eating fresh bread is always great!

Additionally, if you live near a Reform synagogue, you could ask her to take you.  She can teach you about Reform services and just might connect while you are there together.

BTW, you are a wonderful friend,

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