Inside-Outsiders?

Many progressive Jewish organizations have made great strides in recent years in creating a welcoming environment for intermarried members and visitors, but what of those who work for the organizations themselves? Does the same attitude of welcoming apply to the organization’s intermarried employees?

There is no definitive answer. But the Jewish Outreach Institute is starting an email discussion forum for intermarried workers in the Jewish communal world who want to talk about the issue. It’s a good idea, and a good start. In the Jewish communal world, it seems to me there is a (sometimes not so) subtle peer pressure to prove one’s Jewish bona fides. It can sometimes be easier to let people think you go to synagogue more than you do or not to mention that your partner is Christian. I certainly see this tendency among young adults from interfaith families who are working in the Jewish world; whenever I go to a conference with other Jewish organizational professionals, these impassioned young people seek me out to talk about their background. They don’t hide their past exactly, but they certainly don’t broadcast it.

I hope this small step will help Jewish organizations become more comfortable with the intermarried individuals working for them–and help those intermarried workers become more comfortable with themselves.

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