Honoring the Non-Jewish Spouse Biennial Initiative
A 68th Biennial Initiative
...we need to do far more for the non-Jewish spouses in our midst. We welcome all such spouses, of course, including those who do not identify as Jewish. But when a spouse involves herself in the activities of the synagogue; offers support to the Jewish involvements of husband or wife; attends Jewish worship; and, most important of all, commits to raising Jewish children, he or she is deserving not only of welcome but of our profound thanks.
These spouses are heroes--yes, heroes--of Jewish life. While maintaining some measure of attachment to their own traditions, and sometimes continuing to practice their religion, they take on responsibilities that, by any reasonable calculation, belong to the Jewish spouse. And very often they do all of this without recognition from either their Jewish family or their synagogue. -- Rabbi Eric Yoffie, November 19, 2005
Parents who are not Jewish but are welcome members of our congregations are often lovingly and supportively raising their children as Jews. They give us the priceless gift of future Jewish generations. What kind of support and education does your congregation offer them? How do your lay leaders, clergy and religious school teachers ensure that they have the tools to create a Jewish home? And just as importantly, how does your congregation honor and recognize their dedication to raising children in a tradition that is not their own?
Educating your members to understand and address the often difficult issues that are faced by the non Jewish parent is the first step to supporting interfaith families in your synagogue. The resources below were created to help you in this area, including new programs that that can be adapted for use by your congregation, as well as links to Union publications and resources that your congregation can use to build programming this year and in the years to come.