Congregation Shir Ha-Ma'alot warmly opens our doors and hearts to our non-Jewish members. We are committed to couples with one Jewish partner to welcome them as a couple within our community, to embrace them and their children, and to offer support and education for their extended families.
- My spouse/partner is Jewish and I am not. If we join will I be welcomed at SHM? Yes, all family members are warmly welcomed at all SHM Temple events and services. We encourage members to attend as a family so that the family unit can become closer and understand Jewish history, traditions, and culture.
- I don’t read Hebrew. How can I possibly follow the Shabbat/worship service? Our prayer books are written for all levels of understanding. The text is written in three types of wording: Hebrew, English transliteration, and English all on the same page. (A transliteration is a phonetically written version of Hebrew.) Throughout the service the clergy will guide the congregation through the prayer book and say the page numbers so that the congregant may follow the service in the wording that is most comfortable to the individual.
- When we join SHM, will my non-Jewish spouse be expected to convert? No. We are grateful for the support given to the Jewish spouse/partner and the participation at SHM. Conversion is a personal decision made only after heartfelt consideration. Our Rabbis will guide you through the conversion process and the congregation will joyfully celebrate if and when the decision is made to convert to Judaism.
- When we join SHM, will my non-Jewish spouse be considered a member? Yes. When a family/couple joins SHM all immediate family members/partner are considered full members. All non-Jewish spouses/partners are welcomed and encouraged to participate on all levels including our committees, attend classes and holiday events.
- Do you have other interfaith families at Shir Ha-Ma'alot? Yes. Shir Ha-Ma'alot has many couples/families that are interfaith. Our goal is to welcome and include all members regardless of their religious upbringing.
- What will be the status of my children in the Jewish community? Since 1983, the Reform Movement has recognized the children of either the Jewish parent (mother or father) as Jewish if they are raised and educated as Jews. There are many children in our congregation’s Religious School who have other religions in their extended families and our teachers have been trained to be sensitive to this.
- We are considering enrolling our child in SHM’s Religious School. Are parents who are not Jewish welcome to participate in Religious School classrooms and events? Jewish tradition puts a high value on family life. We encourage both parents to be involved in their child’s Religious School experience and we welcome your participation. We offer rabbi/parent study designed to help parents learn and understand what their child(ren) are learning at Religious School. In addition, each grade level has two “Family Camp Sundays” designed for students and their parents to “learn by doing” together as a family.
- Will my non-Jewish spouse be able to participate in our children’s bar/bat mitzvah? Yes. At Shir Ha-Ma'alot we include the entire family. Both parents pass the Torah to their child as a concrete symbol of their support for Jewish education.
- What about non-Jewish grandparents? Can they be a part of my Jewish child’s life? Yes. A child who knows his/her grandparents is a fortunate child. All grandparents are welcome to attend services and events at the Temple and Religious School. Grandparents add another dimension to a family and are an important part of a family’s history, values and traditions.
- I have more questions. How can I learn more? Call Rabbi Steinberg for a time to meet at (949) 857-2226 or email us HERE.
For more general information about Judaism and to learn more about interfaith relationships, the following are excellent resources:
www.interfaithfamily.com/ - A website and community calendar for programs for interfaith couples
www.urj.org/outreach/ - The Union for Reform Judaism Department of Outreach and Synagogue Community
www.projectwelcome.org a website the reaches out and welcomes interfaith couples/families, unaffiliated Jews and those seeking a stronger connection to Judaism.
Inside Intermarriage: A Christian Partner's Perspective on Raising a Jewish Family, by Jim Keen, URJ Press, New York, 2001
Living a Jewish Life, by Anita Diamant and Howard Cooper, Harper, 1991
How to be a Jewish Parent: A Practical Handbook for Family Life, by Anita Diamant and Karen Kushner, Schocken Books, 2000