This new issue of The Reform Advocate includes moving stories from three interfaith families who have found spiritual homes in Classical Reform congregations. All were drawn to these congregations by the unconditional welcome they received, as well as the accessibility of the worship Services, the attraction and power of Classical Reform values, and the full inclusion of the non-Jewish spouses and their families in congregational life. In each case, the non-Jewish partner led their Jewish spouse into a more deeply meaningful and active Jewish life. Here are the titles, photos and some excerpts from their articles.
MY CHRISTIAN WIFE LED ME BACK TO AN ACTIVE, FULFILLING JEWISH LIFE, by Alec Harris, Chicago Sinai Congregation
The Harris Family
Carollina, Alec’s wife, is the daughter of Korean immigrants, and Alex’s mother is a Holocaust survivor. Early in their relationship, Alec and Carollina talked about having children and about how they would raise their children religiously. They are not only an interfaith couple, they were also a inter-cultural and interracial couple. Where would they find a congregation that would affirm both of their cultures and religious backgrounds?
Alec writes: “I realize it might sound odd, but the emphasis of (Classical Reform) Judaism as a religion made it much easier for Carollina to buy into. She is Asian, after all, and can’t quite so easily convert to becoming a Jew ethnically any more than she could transform into being white. We were fully embraced (at Chicago Sinai Congregation) as a couple…there was no question that Carollina could participate right from the beginning, in everything she wanted.” Read more
OUR CONGREGATION’S WARM EMBRACE… OF OUR ENTIRE INTERFAITH FAMILY… HAS MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE by Susan Lucas, Chicago Sinai Congregation
The Lucas Family
Susan says: “… when each of our children became Bar and Bat Mitzvah, each saw all of their grandparents, and both their mother and father, on the bima singing the blessings before their Torah portions (my parents in Hebrew, Stuart’s parents in English), and when the Torah was passed from my parents to Stuart’s parents, to me, to Stuart, and then to each of them, they experienced a family enthusiastically providing unconflicted support for their Jewish upbringing and identity.” Read more
AUDACIOUS HOSPITALITY IN BOSTON: ONE INTERFAITH COUPLE’S JOURNEY by Todd Katzman and Marc LaCasse
The Katzman/LaCasse Family
Todd, who grew up in a Conservative congregation, says: “I attended High Holy Day Services at a number of different temples in Boston but I never thought to bring my husband, who was not then Jewish, with me because I did not feel that the Services would be accessible to him.”
Marc, who was raised a French Canadian Catholic comments: “In the fall of 2004, I attended Jewish services (with Todd, at Central Reform Temple in Boston) for the first time in my life. I quickly understood the prayers, the teachings and the sermons – because they were in English. The more I learned, the more it just seemed obvious to me that much of what I was hearing is what I already believed anyway: the ethical teachings, the practices, the spirit of community, the obligation of community service.” Read more
Also in this issue of The Reform Advocate, is a compelling new approach to the evolution of Reform Judaism, presented by Rabbi Howard Berman in his new introduction to the 50th Anniversary Edition of W. Gunther Plaut’s Rise and Growth of Reform Judaism. Reform Judaism is often seen by non-Reform Jews and some Reform Jews themselves as a less authentic expression of Judaism. This new introduction, titled HISTORIOGRAPHY AND POLEMIC IN THE STUDY OF REFORM JUDAISM is a refreshing celebration and affirmation of Reform Judaism, in its uniqueness. Read more
Two other timely pieces in this Reform Advocate are:
- BEYOND THE WARM WELCOME: REFLECTIONS OF A CLASSICAL REFORM RABBI, by Rabbi Nadia Siritsky
- INTERFAITH FAMILIES AND JEWISH LIFE SURVEY!
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