Naming the Issue

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I believe that if engaging interfaith families is going to be a priority, it needs to be called out. It needs to be named. So I’m very attuned to omissions – when I think golden opportunities to refer to engaging interfaith families are missed.

Two weeks ago Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the excellent leader of the Reform movement, wrote that Synagogue Innovation is the Key to Strengthening Jewish Life. It’s a fine article, and I personally agree with the major point – that innovation is needed, and that it is happening not only in small start-ups but also in many congregations. I just wish that the examples of synagogue innovation – new dues structures, family engagement and retention, leadership and governance, disabilities inclusion, engaging Jews of color and millennials – could have included engaging interfaith families.

Today Rabbi Daniel Schiff wrote There’s No Place Like Home. Again the major point – that strengthening the Jewish home, in addition to institutions, is an important strategy – is well taken. But there’s not even a mention of all of the Jewish homes headed by interfaith partners, or the opportunity strengthen the Jewishness of more of those homes. That may not be surprising, given the author’s praise for the Statement on Jewish Vitality, which is terrible for what it says and doesn’t say about intermarriage, as I’ve explained before.

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