October 10, 2006
A few months ago, we asked a handful of young adults, all children of interfaith marriages, a question: has your interfaith identity been positive or negative for you? We didn't receive the answers we were expecting; almost none of the respondents answered the question directly.
But as we read through their essays, we noticed a common thread: those who were raised Jewish identify strongly as Jews, and those who were not raised Jewish have a much weaker Jewish identity. It's not exactly rocket science, and it's something we've been saying for years. But it was inspiring to read multiple testimonies to the power of raising kids Jewish in interfaith families. So if you're looking for reassurance--or proof--that raising a child Jewish will have a lasting impact, read the articles in the new issue of our Web Magazine .
Take Sarah R. Heilbroner. Her mother is not Jewish and her family lives in an overwhelmingly Christian community. The odds would seem stacked against her. But late in her childhood, her family adopted Reform Jewish practice. Now she's an adult with a firm Jewish identity: she fasts on Yom Kippur, she attends weekly Shabbat services and she's even toying with eating kosher. Read more in How I Programmed My Life .
Jason Bortnick, on the other hand, was raised with no faith. Neither his Catholic mother nor his Jewish father saw any point in organized religion. He'd like to raise his children Jewish, but his spiritual viewpoint has little relation to the tenets of Judaism. Find out more in What Would Superman Do?
Josh Fischel's Jewish mother and non-Jewish father made a choice, and raised their son Jewish. He says, "I'm just as Jewish as my rabbi," but he's not sure what he would do about children if he marries his non-Jewish girlfriend. Read more in An Interfaith Child Thinks about His (Hypothetical) Interfaith Children .
Growing up, Jennifer L. Gordon and her sister were told "that they were Jewish and Christian and that neither religion was better than the other." But raised with both, she ended up with neither. Read more in Mixed Blessings: A Religious Journey That Has Led Nowhere .
The story of Maya Gottfried is a little different. When she was younger, she embraced her half-and-half identity. But as an adult, she longed for a firmer, deeper religious identification. She began exploring her Jewish identity until a rabbi's wife told her, "You're not Jewish." Now she's a practicing Christian. Read more in Untitled .
Rachel Sarah was raised Jewish by her interfaith parents. Now 33 and raising a Jewish child of her own, she's looking for a Jewish man--so long as he doesn't mind that her mom wasn't Jewish. Read more in JDate Here I Come...
Joanne Catz Hartman is on the other end of the spectrum. Born Jewish, she's now working on raising her daughter as Jewish with her non-Jewish husband. But she wonders how much of her husband's heritage they should offer their daughter, in Interfaith Doesn't Mean Having to Say Goodbye to My Jewish Heritage .
From Our Article Archive
Eric Lesser's father is an Eastern European Jew and his mother is an Italian Catholic. As a child, he was told, "Judaism is a culture and a religion. Italian is a culture, so you can be Jewish and Italian. To be raised Catholic and Jewish, however, is more difficult." Read more in How My Italian-American Catholic Mother Strengthened My Jewish Identity: Lessons in Intermarriage .
Wondering how the children of interfaith marriages turn out? Read about the findings of a recent study on interfaith children, in Study Finds Surprising Facts about Children of Mixed Marriages .
Arts and Entertainment
Lauren Storm, one of the stars of Flight 29 Down, talks about getting beat up at Catholic school for having a Jewish mom, in Shmoozin' with... Lauren Storm. And learn a bit about The Conrad Boys , a story of a gay Chinese-American Jew, written by, directed by and starring a, um, gay Chinese-American Jew.
For more on dealing with interfaith identity, visit our Growing Up in an Interfaith Family Resource Page .
We'll return on October 24 with our issue on outreach success stories.
Micah Sachs, Online Managing Editor
Write for Us!
We're looking for writers on the following topic:
We're looking for parents to address how their family's celebration of the December holidays affected their children's religious identity. Interested? Contact Web Magazine Editor Ronnie Friedland at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Connections In Your Area--Featured Events
Parenting Children in Interfaith Families
Sponsored by BRIDGES/UJF
What are the core values you want to teach your child? Join BRIDGES/UJF and other parents in Stamford, Conn.,as they look at the values that underlie every culture and faith on Wednesday, October 25 at 7 p.m. Contact Elise Klein for more information, to RSVP and the event location, (203) 321-1373 x112 or email@example.com .