Non-Jewish Moms in Atlanta, Interfaith Couples in Cali

Next Monday, participants in the first Mothers Circle program in the country will be speaking at the Jewish Federation North Metro Campus in Alpharetta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. The Mothers Circle is a nine-week course for non-Jewish mothers raising Jewish children started by the New York-based Jewish Outreach Institute. In the Atlanta Jewish Times, one of the early participants, Abi Auer, eloquently explains the value of the Mothers Circle: “Everyone who is involved in the Mothers Circle has made a sacrifice to give up some of those things we were raised with,” she says. “You don’t know what you don’t know when you are raising Jewish children and weren’t raised Jewish yourself.”

The JTA had a recent story on how Federations are becoming more sophisticated in how they allocate funding. One example of what the article calls “priority-based” funding is the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties, which put money towards interfaith sensitivity training after finding that 75 percent of the couples in Sonoma and Marin counties were intermarried.

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3 thoughts on “Non-Jewish Moms in Atlanta, Interfaith Couples in Cali

  1. I don’t understand why there is so much focus on helping the non-Jewish moms who are raising their children Jewish and I hardly ever see anything about efforts to help non-Jewish dads raising Jewish children. They have the same feelings and confusions as the moms do, right?

  2. Micah, thanks very much for the mention of The Mothers Circle program. It’s actually an 8-month course, not 9-weeks. People can learn more at http://www.TheMothersCircle.org.

    Jessy, we are also interested in starting a corresponding Fathers Circle for the exact population you mention. However, there are a number of challenges, which is why we focused on moms first. Even though we believe wholeheartedly in an egalitarian society, the bottom line is, women are still overwhelmingly in charge of the education decisions of their children. Also, women tend to relate to each other through talking, whereas men tend to relate to each other more through “doing.” (I recognize these are generalizations, but when creating programs we’re forced to generalize.) We are not sure that a lengthy educational course is the way to go for the intermarried fathers from other religious backgrounds. But we are in the process of developing programming that would be appealing to them, and if you have additional thoughts, they would be greatly appreciated.

    Paul Golin
    Associate Executive Director
    Jewish Outreach Institute

  3. Paul, thank you for the correction. Not sure where the eight weeks came from.

    Just to reinforce what Paul said, social research–even research with very positive news about intermarriage, such as the 2005 Greater Boston Jewish Community Study–has shown that the mother’s religious upbringing is a significantly greater factor in the religious upbringing of the children than the father’s. One of the reasons there is so much focus on the non-Jewish moms is that program providers, like JOI, recognize that kids with non-Jewish moms and Jewish dads are less likely to be raised Jewish than kids with Jewish moms and non-Jewish dads.

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