By Jennifer Gorovitz, CEO
I was pleased to see the article in last week’s Times op-ed section Interfaith Unions: A Mixed Blessing. In some religions, Interfaith marriages represent the majority of unions. Despite that dominance, it is a topic that still needs some unpacking. It is so important to note that although the paradigm is shifting, many people in interfaith marriages are still unsure of how to preserve their cultural and religious heritage within a modern family.
As CEO of the JCF, I have watched this community go from shunning such relationships to celebrating them and yet, we are still at the very beginning of understanding how we can best embrace this new family dynamic, and how these families want to interact with our diverse community and its organizations. More than half of all married couples within the 2,400 square miles of our service area are interfaith, and in some communities that figure is as high as 75%.
In recognizing the pressing need to engage these families, the JCF is partnering with InterfaithFamily by providing them with a three-year grant to bring their innovative programs to the Bay Area. InterfaithFamily/Bay Area workshops range from Love and Religion for seriously-dating interfaith couples to Preparing for a Bar Mitzvah for families with 4th-7th grade children. These workshops are run by experts on the complexities of interfaith relationships, and help keep family discussions open and productive. In addition, the JCF has made grants to innovative organizations seeking to be more inclusive.
Our goal is to help our community reach out to these new families and celebrate their diversity, using new technologies to break down any barriers that might get in the way of happiness, togetherness and meaning.
While we agree that interfaith relationships are prone to their own unique challenges, we know that access to the right support can help interfaith couples successfully explore their respective religions, as they do with Judaism at InterfaithFamily. Diversity helps makes the Bay Area a great place to live, which is why we proudly support our Bay Area Jewish community with the programming tools they need to help maintain loving, supportive, and diverse families.