The recent Pew Survey of Jewish Americans confirmed what the 2013 Pew Study told us: Interfaith couples are now the majority of Jewish couples in our community. As Jewish professionals, clergy and lay leaders, interfaith families are our constituents—our congregants, our volunteers, our students, our community members. The message of the Pew Survey is loud and clear: We must tell them our community is strengthened by their participation!
Tu B’Av this year will take place on Shabbat, July 23-24. Many of our communities do not do much to mark this day, but it is an excellent opportunity to honor the love shared by interfaith couples and families. Celebrating with them can show that you don’t just welcome them, but embrace them and consider them fully part of your community.
How can we do this? 18Doors has five suggestions that you can implement this year.
Share “love stories” from your community, featuring interfaith couples and families.
Celebrate the partner of a different background with a special mention or blessing during your Shabbat morning services, in any communications you send to your community or with a special phone call or personalized email to the interfaith couples you currently work with or have worked with in the past.
Host a special Tu B’Av program for couples in your community, and make it clear that interfaith couples are invited—and encouraged—to attend.
Take this opportunity to look through your community’s policies and audit them to make sure they align with your values. What are your membership policies regarding interfaith families? How can people who are not Jewish participate in ritual observances in your community?
Invite interfaith couples in your community to start an affinity group, where they can build relationships with each other in an informal meet up.
Tema works in partnership with Jewish professionals, educators, clergy and lay leaders to help them develop the skills and tools they need to fully embrace interfaith couples and families. Before joining 18Doors, she was a synagogue professional, most recently as membership director of a large congregation, and completed a certificate in Interfaith Families Jewish Engagement at Hebrew College where she was a fellow.