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September 24, 2014 | 29th Elul 5774
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Supporting Interfaith

My house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples. (Isaiah 56:7)

Ahavat ger, welcoming the stranger, is among the most important tenets of Reform Judaism. We welcome interfaith families into our communities and encourage their participation in our congregations.

For over 30 years, the URJ has been developing innovative resources to help individuals, interfaith couples and families, particularly the non-Jewish partner, feel more comfortable in a Reform setting. We work to empower people to make Jewish choices for themselves and their families and strive to provide resources to inform educated decisions.

We also offer numerous resources to help our congregations become welcoming places for people of diverse religious backgrounds, sexual orientations and ethnic backgrounds. The definition of what constitutes a “Jewish family” has changed. Whether both partners are Jewish or not, your congregation can educate and encourage families to make Jewish choices and support them along their journey.

Read about Rabbi Yoffie's Biennial Initiative to support interfaith families by recognizing and honoring the non-Jewish spouse.

According to the 2000 National Jewish Population Study, about half of contemporary North American Jews today will enter interfaith relationships, one third of them will affiliate with a synagogue and one third of their children will be raised as Jews. Your congregation can be a welcoming spiritual home for these families.

Parents who are not Jewish are often lovingly and supportively raising their children as Jews. They are the heroes of Jewish life, giving us the priceless gift of future generations of Jews. It is vital that your congregations support these parents in their noble work.

Sometimes non-Jewish partners in interfaith relationships feel drawn to Judaism and want to explore our religion. If they choose to become part of the Jewish people, our community must make the effort to welcome and support them.

Simple Steps to Strengthen Interfaith Outreach in Your Congregation
  1. 18+ Ways to Welcome and Support Interfaith Families

  2. A Two Year Action Plan for Your Congregation To Recognize and Honor Non-Jews Raising Jewish Children and to Invite and Support Conversion

  3. Display our brochure Intermarried? Reform Judaism Welcomes You in your lobby and in your prospective membership packet. Take a look at our other resources that can be ordered and displayed in your synagogue.

  4. Make sure that your congregation is aware of Union for Reform Judaism policy:
  5. Consider hosting an interfaith couple's group to explore the unique issues that these couples face. Working with Interfaith Couples: A Facilitator's Guide provides group facilitators with different models for working with interfaith couples: single-session, drop-in, synagogue group and eight-week psycho-educational. Included are program goals, recruiting tips, choosing a facilitator, support materials, group exercises and tools for evaluating success.

  6. Make sure that your congregation has clear policies written out to address the role of the non-Jew in your synagogue. Defining the Role of the Non-Jew in the Synagogue: A Resource for Congregations can help in this necessary task.

  7. Implement programs in your synagogue to welcome, educate and integrate interfaith families. Check out our publications such as the Outreach and Membership Idea Book and the Outreach and Membership Idea Book Volume II for additional ideas.

  8. Become an Alexander Schindler Interfaith Fellow!

  9. Communicate with other lay leaders working in Outreach on our TalkingOutreach Listserv. Make sure your Outreach Chair is receiving our monthly Outreach newsletter to receive the latest information on programs and resources to assist you in working with interfaith families in your congregation. 
 
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