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JTA has a great, I mean just terrific, story today on how a number of synagogues are using the High Holidays as an opportunity to publicly thank non-Jews in interfaith families who are raising their children as Jews:
These public expressions of gratitude are happening mostly at Reform synagogues, which is in large part due to a sermon by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the leader of the Reform movement, at their biennial last year. In that much-publicized speech, Rabbi Yoffie said that Reform synagogues should honor non-Jews who choose to raise their children as Jews but should also not forget to ask non-Jews to consider conversion. There was nothing wrong with the message, but in the publicity following the speech–including the Reform movement’s own press releases–the second point eclipsed the first.
But now, in the first High Holidays following that speech, it appears that many rabbis are taking to heart Rabbi Yoffie’s first point. First impressions are lasting, and for many Jews–intermarried or not–their first impression of the organized Jewish community is at synagogue on the High Holidays. To use these most public of holidays as an opportunity to honor non-Jewish partners is just wonderful. We’ve had our disagreements, but thank you, Rabbi Yoffie, and all the rabbis who’ve followed his suggestion, for offering such a warm welcome to interfaith families.
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