Welcoming Communities

One of our readers wanted to make sure I (and through me, all of you) saw this blog post. Part of the Reform movement’s “Spotlight on Welcoming Interfaith,” the author writes about feeling like an outsider as a non-Jewish parent raising a Jewish family.

We contacted their Day School and set-up an interview.  “You know, I’m not Jewish”, was one of my 1st comments.  Their response was “Many of our mom’s are not Jewish.  You’ll find lots of friends here”.  And, they were right.

I found a community where I was not just accepted, but embraced – a community where I did not have to give up who I was – a school able to provide our son a wonderful education integrated with strong reform Jewish values – a school family willing to take me from my childlike desire to understand this culture to a more mature understanding of the Jewish faith and traditions.  I found a home away from home where l’dor v’dor included both my Appalachian Christian family and my husband’s Iraqi ancestors.

Suddenly, there was an extended Day School family who made sure that we were invited to Shabbat dinners, Passover Seders, and Chanukah parties.  Like a family, they seemed to actually enjoy my childlike enthusiasm to learn the hows and whys of Jewish traditions.  Like a family, they cried with me when my father died.  They were there to celebrate our son’s bar mitzvah and to make sure my Christian family members were embraced and welcomed, just as I had been 7 years earlier.

I think this speaks to the power that we as Jewish professionals, organizations, lay leaders, and just “regular” members of the Jewish communities, have in ensuring that all are welcomed and accepted.

As professionals, think about the answers you give new or potential members in your synagogues or schools, look at how you can make your website more welcoming by adding statements of inclusion, and find more resources and tips in our Resource Center for Program Providers.

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