May 23, 2006
When interfaith couples have children, they often face a series of tough questions: How will the child be raised? Will he/she be baptized? Will he/she have a bris or a baby-naming? Will the child be sent to Hebrew school or Christian school? Will the family join a synagogue or a church? In this issue of our Web Magazine , we share a variety of perspectives from interfaith parents who have faced--or are facing--these issues.
In Parenting for a Positive Jewish Identity, Josh Segal says there's a simple way to have your kids grow up Jewish: show them how.
"We joined Beth Hillel a year and a half ago. Three months later, I attended my first Jewish memorial service. It was for our stillborn twin sons," says Pam Chernoff in the moving At Last Becoming a Parent, with the Support of My Congregation .
In an era of Protestant Goldsteins and Jewish O'Sullivans, does having a Jewish-sounding name matter? Julie Wiener thinks it does, and named her daughter accordingly, in "In the Mix": A Rosenblum by Any Other Name...
Twenty-two years ago, Dan Pine and his non-Jewish wife couldn't find a mohel who would circumcise their son Aaron. "According to Jewish law, my son was no more Jewish than the Pope," he says. But six years later, Aaron knew he didn't look like the other boys--and he wanted to do something about it. Read In This "Opt in, Opt out" World, It's Hard to Remain a Jew .
Sometimes it takes Friday night concerts on the beach, crab-hunting and Vietnamese shrimp rolls to make an interfaith family feel connected to Judaism. Read Joanne Catz Hartman's Joys of Chavurah (AKA, "The Jewish Party Thing") .
"I am not sure down the road if my children will grow up and marry Jewish spouses," says Sallie W. Gotoff, who's close to converting. "I do know, however, that tonight we will light the Shabbat candles together." Read A Journey of Faith: Step by Step, Beginning with the Birth of Our First Child .
Andi L. Rosenthal was always different from her sister. Andi's tall; Laura's short. Andi's single; Laura's married with two children. Now Andi's Jewish, and Laura's Catholic. Laura's come to terms with that, but what about the nephew Andi godmothered before she converted? Read more in Star/Crossed: Jewish Stories from an Interfaith Life: Sisters, Set in Stone .
For twenty years, Anita Diamant's The Jewish Baby Book has helped parents navigate the often complicated waters of Jewish birth ceremonies and baby-naming traditions. Now she's come out with a new edition--which is even more helpful for interfaith, gay/lesbian and other non-traditional Jewish families. Read Cheryl F. Coon's review .
What do you think? Please join our online discussion on the topic: Was it important that your child have a bris? Why or why not?
Also check out our resource for interfaith families planning a birth ceremony for their child, Tips for Including Non-Jewish Family Members in Birth Ceremonies .
Also in This Issue
When we published our editorial Enough is Enough, we suspected we weren't alone in our concern over the recent Jewish communal campaign to convert non-Jewish spouses. Now Rabbi David Ellenson, head of the Reform movement's rabbinical school, and Rabbi Kerry Olitzky, head of the Jewish Outreach Institute, are adding their voices to the conversion debate in Conversion Is Not an Outreach Strategy .
Meanwhile, the Conservative movement continues to take steps to open up to interfaith families. In Reaching Out to the Intermarried, Rabbi David Booth says Conservative synagogues should welcome--and start learning about--interfaith families. Rabbi Dr. Barry Leff agrees... but still finds intermarriage "scary." See Lessons on Intermarriage from Abraham .
Don't miss our issue on Multicultural Interfaith Families on June 6.
Micah Sachs, Online Managing Editor
Write for Us!
We're looking for writers on the following topics:
1) Do you feel that the most difficult obstacle between you and a stronger Jewish identity comes from your interfaith background/relationship, or do you not have a strong Jewish identity because the Jewish community doesn't adequately recognize your situation and needs?
2) Tell us about what your interfaith family does for the High Holidays, and if you are in a Muslim-Jewish relationship, tell us about the High Holidays and Ramadan in your family.
If you want to write on these topics, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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