is an opportunity for your synagogue
or organization to join with other welcoming communities in a bold statement that we will continue to build an inclusive Jewish community in our local areas and across the country. In 2013, over 100 synagogues and other organizations in Philadelphia, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area participated in this exciting program. This year, InterfaithFamily is expanding this program to Boston and our Cleveland affiliate as well.
Q. Why should my synagogue or organization sign up?
There will be publicity for your synagogue or organization showing your participation. This publicity will be on Facebook, Twitter, and www.interfaithfamily.com as well in local Jewish publications. We know that you work daily to create a welcoming community for all families. This is a chance to show your appreciation for the interfaith families in your community and offer a special acknowledgement, program, or service to highlight your support. November, the month we celebrate Thanksgiving, is an opportune time to offer blessings and thanks to those who believe Judaism should be lived and loved by the next generation, especially if those parents and grandparents did not grow up with Judaism themselves.
Q. Why the month of November?
The season of Thanksgiving is a perfect time to show our thanks to all of those who are embracing Judaism. We also wanted to give all synagogues and organizations an opportunity to participate without having to worry about calendar conflicts. By designating a whole month, every synagogue or organization can find the time to do something, whether it is during one of the weekends or a weeknight within November.
Q. “OK! -- Great idea, but what type of program should we do?”
There are many options to choose from.
- Have a panel of members who are part of interfaith families. Give them a chance to tell their story. Letting people hear a personal story of how an interfaith family is engaged in Judaism is incredibly powerful.
- The Rabbi can give a d’var torah about inclusivity and welcoming; how thankfulness is part of Judaism; or about interfaith families in the Torah. Here’s an example of a sermon from Rabbi Elliot Strom of Shir Ami in Newtown, PA.
- Grandparent’s coffee. Invite members whose children have intermarried and allow them to chat about the issues they have faced. It may be helpful to have a facilitator to model welcoming behavior.
- Articles in the newsletter. Families or clergy can write articles about the importance of welcoming.
- A thank you ceremony. Thank the person who has married into Judaism for all that they do. Everyone should be thanked for their compassion and compromises. InterfaithFamily Shabbat is in November, the month of Thanksgiving. What a great time to say “Thank you!”
- Bring your kids and grandkids oneg. Explain Shabbat and give the kids juice, challah and a treat. Bless the kids. It makes Shabbat special and it makes the kids feel special too.
- Have a “December Dilemma” workshop. Invite families who are navigating the December dilemma and let them develop a framework for their discussion. A facilitator might be helpful to encourage acceptance of people’s choices.
- Show a movie! “Keeping the Faith” or “Meet the Parents” have some great interfaith scenes in them. Have a discussion afterwards. What a fun night! Discuss ways that families can welcome others to their family.
- Have an outing. You can host an event for a segment of your community – maybe teens, young couples, or empty nesters – to welcome interfaith couples and families. Hosting an event outside of a synagogue building might be more enticing to an interfaith couple. A local ice cream place or coffee house could be the perfect place to relax and talk about how Judaism fits into their lives. Ask members to invite a friend!
- Beginner’s service. Host a Friday night beginner’s service for interfaith couples who might be looking for a synagogue. Make sure all prayers are explained and transliterated.
- Host a “Welcome Dinner." Provide a reasonably priced dinner for all members. Give special gifts to new members and a special welcome to prospective members. This is an opportunity for the President, membership person or Rabbi to give a brief talk about how everyone is welcome no matter where they are on their spiritual journey.
These are just some of the many ideas available. We would be happy to help brainstorm others with you. Contact us at the email below.
Q. What are the benefits of my synagogue or organization participating?
There are many benefits to participation:
An opportunity to welcome interfaith families into your synagogue or organization and show appreciation for current members who are part of interfaith families.
InterfaithFamily will pay for an ad in your local Jewish newspaper about InterfaithFamily Shabbat and list your synagogue or organization as a participant with a link to information about your event.
Publicity on www.interfaithfamily.com, in our bi-weekly email newsletter which goes to over 14,600 readers nationwide, and in an email sent to all our newsletter subscribers in your area.
Tweets about InterfaithFamily Shabbat and local events will be sent to our 2,900 Twitter followers and posts will be published on our Facebook page which has over 20,500 fans.
Your event will be listed in the Event listings section of the InterfaithFamily Network (if your organization has a profile on our Network).
InterfaithFamily will send you resources
that you can distribute or display, such as informative Shabbat and family ritual booklets from InterfaithFamily.
You will have access to ideas to help you create an inspiring and creative program to welcome interfaith families into your synagogue or organization.
Q. How to sign my synagogue or organization up to participate?
Fill out our online registration form to sign up:
When your synagogue or organization has figured out when, where and what you would like to do for InterfaithFamily Shabbat, let us know and we will help you publicize it!
For any questions, ideas, concerns and publicity, contact your InterfaithFamily/Your Community Director at:
San Francisco Bay Area: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cleveland, an affiliate of InterfaithFamily/Your Community: MMersack@jecc.org