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You Can't Be Both (Jewish and Not)

November 12, 2013

This article was reprinted with permission from The Forward

Susan Katz Miller, the author of a new book, “Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family,” recently argued in a New York Times op-ed that children being raised as Jewish and something else are not totally lost to Judaism. She said that kids who learn about the faith when they are young may embrace the Jewish part of their identity when they are older, or develop an affinity for Judaism even if they choose another faith or none at all.

As an intermarried Jew, I agree that children being raised in two faiths or none at all should not be discounted by the Jewish community for the very reason Miller states: These children may, as adults, decided to fully engage in Judaism. But I certainly disagree with her suggestion that children from interfaith families being raised in one faith are somehow being coerced into a religious identity.

Faced with the same challenge as Miller and her husband — what the religious identity of our interfaith family should be — my husband and I chose Judaism. I’d like to explain why.

When we were dating, we discussed how we should approach the issue of our two faiths should we get married. I wanted a Jewish home; my husband wanted to celebrate both traditions. His interest in a dual-faith home was driven not by a theological commitment to Christianity, but rather by a desire to be part of both of our family’s celebrations.

To read the rest of this story, please visit The Forward

Jane Larkin

Jane Larkin lives in Dallas with her husband and son and is a member of Temple Emanu-El. She is chair of the temple's outreach committee and a former leader of the Interfaith Moms group. She writes a parenting blog for InterfaithFamily.

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