I have a confession. I love the events posted on InterfaithFamily.com’s Network.
I am jealous. I wish we had similar events here. So I went on a mission. I wanted to find some kind of local support group for interfaith families with one Jewish parent.
I didn’t have any success finding anything established locally. The programs I found were beginner level designed to teach basic concepts of Jewish spirituality and culture, which wasn’t what I was looking for.
Naaleh offers a series of lectures on making Jewish holidays and life events meaningful to children. I have listened to a couple and Rebbetzin Tzipporah Heller does present some great ideas for making Jewish spirituality come alive to children of all ages. I am looking for the ideas but put into the context of an interfaith family — when one parent isn’t Jewish.
Thankfully, Benjamin from right here on IFF helped me get some things rolling. He met up with some of the local Jewish Federation people at TribeFest. He pitched my idea and they loved it. He got me in touch with the right person and we’re trying to set up an introductory event, mostly to get people in the room and figure out where to go with this idea.
Benjamin suggested I work on articulating the goal of this support group: The goal is to help parents of interfaith families with parenting skills and decisions within a partial or fully Jewish household. For example, there are the winter holidays — do you celebrate one or both and how would you explain it to the kids?
Here are some of the questions that have crossed my mind:
– How do we keep the non-Jewish parent involved and not let them feel like the odd wheel?
– How do we answer questions the children might have about the non-Jewish parent’s religion?
– How do we answer the in-laws questions about Jewish practices like keeping Kosher (“what do you mean Junior can’t eat here?”)?
– How do I choose a synagogue? Does it have to be Reform just because my husband isn’t Jewish?
I am trying to find practical answers to these questions. How do you answer the questions without sounding like you have joined some kind of cult? (“Yeah and then on Yom Kippur we swing a chicken around our heads…”)
I know there is no right answer, and in fact it’s the mixture of answers I would love to hear.
They say that it takes a village to raise a child, and I am trying to find a village! I keep hearing about the 50% interfaith marriage rate and assume some of these people have children — where is everybody?
Do you have any experience with a similar kind of support network? Do you just rely on your local shul for support or do you have a parent group you meet with regularly? What do you talk about?
I would really appreciate if you would share your experiences or even what you would look for in a support group.