The Entire Lifecycle, in Three Articles

Three interesting articles today, each focusing on a different stage in the lifecycle of an interfaith family:

  • The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles has a short story on the recent RAVSAK conference in L.A., where IFF Publisher and President Ed Case spoke. RAVSAK is the association of Jewish community day schools. Community day schools are unaffiliated with any movement and are therefore open to Jewish people of all backgrounds, including children of intermarriages. In the article, Marc Kramer, executive director of RAVSAK, points out how in the past day school enrollment flowed from a family’s religious observance, but now the path is often reversed. Many families become more religious and more Jewishly identifying because they send their children to Jewish day school. Day school becomes an opportunity not just to educate the child, but to educate the parent.
  • According to Hillel, The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, increasing numbers of college students are looking to convert to Judaism. A story on their website mostly focuses on kids who grew up with other faith traditions, but also notes that some of the students are children of interfaith families. The article relates the particularly sad story of a student who grew up Jewish but whose mother is Catholic and was told on a birthright trip that the State of Israel did not consider her Jewish. Now she’s pursuing an Orthodox conversion. Good for her, I guess, but I suspect that message will turn more people away from Judaism than turn them toward it.
  • January’s JTA story on interfaith burial options continues to inspire locally focused stories on the topic. The latest one is from the Cleveland Jewish News. One thing that strikes me about these stories is that there really are a lot of Jewish burial options for interfaith couples. Many Jewish cemeteries have separate sections for intermarried couples and many Reform congregations freely allow their intermarried members to be buried with their spouses in their section of the local Jewish cemetery. One stumbling block that has yet to be resolved, however, is how to handle the funeral services for non-Jewish partners who actively practiced their faith. I don’t know of any Jewish cemeteries that will allow Christian markings on a tombstone or a non-Jewish religious service at the grave.
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