About Susan Katz Miller

Okay, stay with me now. I am both an interfaith child and an interfaith parent. My father is Jewish, my mother is Protestant: they raised me as a Reform Jew. Then I married a Protestant working for a Catholic organization and went off to spend three years in a Muslim country. We are now raising our children in an interfaith community, where they learn about both Judaism and Christianity alongside over 100 other interfaith children. We are part of a growing national movement of interfaith families choosing to educate our children about both religions. Most religious institutions discourage this choice, to say the very least. But for our family, it has been an inspiring pathway.

My book on raising children with two religions, based on hundreds of survey responses and interviews, has just been published by Beacon Press. It’s called Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family. The controversial Op-Ed I wrote for the New York Times on raising children with both religions received more than 600 comments and was the most e-mailed NYT story for most of two days. You can also find my interfaith essays at interfaithfamily.com and on NPR’s All Things Considered. I have served as an expert on interfaith children at national conferences, and chaired the Board of the Interfaith Families Project of Greater Washington DC, the interfaith group with the largest religious education program in the country. I often speak on educating children in two religions, and on the relationship between interfaith families and interfaith understanding.

I am a former reporter for Newsweek and New Scientist magazines, and a former parenting columnist for a local newspaper chain. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Discover, Science, National Wildlife, Health, Moment, and many other publications.

Email contact:  susan@onbeingboth.com

16 Comments on “About Susan Katz Miller”

  1. elisheba Says:

    My father was a Jew, my mother a Roman catholic. She was willing for him to raise me in his religion. When he did not, I went to church with a neighbor’s family.
    Her I am now , all grown up. I have intensely studied the Christian and Hebrew bibles, and the Quran. Making allowances for translation problems…I see the same teaching in all 3 books. Now what do I do? Where do I go? Very few people are interested in my scriptural discoveries. Today is Yom Kippur. I am certainly sorry for my sins, all year round.
    May anyone reading this…seek truth, not affected by fear or media programming or religious leaders not wanting to lose their social power.

  2. Dana Says:

    I am so glad to have found your blog! My father was also Jewish and my mother Christian. Because my Dad was not a practicing Jew, he and Mom decided that it would be better for me to be raised as a Christian. Judaism was presented to me as a major component of my cultural identity, however, and for that reason I was raised to identify myself as “Half-Jewish= Christian by Faith, Jewish by Heritage.” This declaration has earned me many a raised eyebrow! At the end of the day, though, I feel blessed to know that I am a child of a loving G-d…regardless of what I call myself! Blessings to you and your family!


  3. Welcome Elisheba, Dana, all…

    Interfaith children are a growing cohort. There are people who will raise their eyebrows at us, no matter what choices we make. But we can be a positive force in society, bridging cultures and religions.

    Sue

  4. seeker2008 Says:

    Its nice to read your posts. I really like your progressive spirit. Lately seeing people argue and fight over religion has really tore me up inside. I currently live nad grew up in NYC. As kids its so strange how we used to in our innocence all play together on the playground but somewhere along the way we have become in many ways esp. religiously cut off from each other.

    As you like Rumi and are part of an interfaithcommunity, you may enjoy this post I put up the other day from Rumi on Jesus.

    http://caravanofdreams.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/jesus-the-sufi-teacher-from-the-fihe-ma-fihe/

  5. Ruth Says:

    I am very glad that I found your Blog. I came to in through Charlotte Gordon’s. Though I am not an interfaith child, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family and extended family that encourage learning about other faiths. Eventually we had someone in the family from many different faiths. My childhood church, Methodist was sold to the Jewish community who made in into a synogogue. As congregations we remained tied in a very special way and I remember that we often attended services at the Temple and they came to visit with us too.

  6. petya Says:

    Hi Susan,
    I just discovered your blog and felt compelled to drop you a note.

    Religion is not a significant part of my life but I am in a bi-cultural marriage (I’m Bulgarian and my husband is American) and relate to a lot of your experiences of negotiating and celebrating the differences we have with our loved ones!

    Looking forward to reading more!


  7. Petya and all–

    Much of what I write about “being both” can apply not only to interfaith people or couples, but to almost anyone in America. Almost all of us have a mixed identity in one fashion or another. I feel a blog post coming on…Sue


  8. Hi, Susan, I’m so glad I found “On Being Both.” I’m Curator of the Week for April 18-25 at She Writes, and I’m definitely going to review your blog. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, a mix of Traditional and Orthodox Judaism, with some Reform mixed in. Both my parents were Jewish, but my father was a determined, rebellious atheist, and my mother was glad to go along. So I had the sickening experience of growing up as the odd kid out in spite of my roots, including being sent to school on the High Holidays, the only child in class on those days. My maternal grandmother “slipped” me a little Judaism when my parents weren’t around in the form of the prayer over the Sabbath candles, etc. Thanks so much for your wonderfully corrective blog posts.

  9. John Sinisi Says:

    I wish I’d known about this before getting together with you last night! Bridging the gaps of faith is a very forward thinking endeavor and one that will, taken to its logical conclusion, will pave the way for an end to ideologically based mistrust and hatred. your children are lucky to have they two of you!

  10. Michael Turner Says:

    I saw the IFCMW video and read a transcript of the discussion that followed. I’m Michael Turner, also with IFCMW. I am a Baha’i, as is my wife (Barbara), so in that narrow sense we don’t qualify as an interfaith couple. On the other hand, I was raised Unitarian-Universalist, while Barbara was raised Roman Catholic; our childhood experiences of religion were very different, and we discover those differences at unexpected moments. And of course, it happens that all of our relatives have a very different perspective.

    Another problem, we take religion seriously, as you do, and we often find ourselves in conflict with values and attitudes expressed by the ‘outside” culture. I sometimes think that people who are of different religions but each try to live that belief on a daily basis would discover, if they opened up to each other, that they had a lot more in common than they realize.

    We have some other friends; he is American, Jewish, and she is Kenyan, Baha’i. I have only seen the children in Baha’i settings, but i am certain they are being brought up with considerable awareness of their Jewish heritage. My impression is that kids like to identify with one identity-source. My kids, see themselves as Baha’i (currently) though their actual beliefs have not yet solidified, but they are still anxious about celebrating Christmas. All this may change when they reach their teens. I can hardly wait….

    I have a notion that historically, it may be more accurate to speak of Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as being three sects of a common western religion. At the time of the arrival of Islam, neither Christianity nor Rabbinic Judaism had assumed the forms that we now associate with them, and all three of them had considerable influence on each other in their development. One interesting note is that a number of the Christians resident in Arabia at the time of Mohammed would have been Monophysite or other groups regarded as heretical by the mainstream of Orthodox Christianity as it was taking form. One of the issues had to do with the nature of Christ; Orthodox eventually settled on christ being both Divine and human, but their were a considerable number who rejected the humanity of Jesus. If once sees Islamic pronouncements on Jesus’s humanity in that context, it puts the later conflict between Islam and Christianity about the nature of Jesus in a different light.

    I am looking forward to hearing more from your Blog. Certainly, if we don’t answer the question about how to raise interfaith children in a positive way (not rejecting either, both or all traditions) our children will not have so strong a role to play in their pluralistic world.

    Yours in service,

    Michael Turner

  11. Beth Says:

    Thanks for the cool column. I’m a Reform Jew married to an ex-Catholic; my daughter’s Bf is Christian; who knows what the grandkids will be!


  12. You’ve got a very interesting blog over here! We’re currently living in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, and it’s wonderful to see so many cultures blending together, as well as learning about the strong influence the jewish community/culture left/is leaving here. I learned, for example, that Recife houses the first official synagogue in the Americas, and we were lucky/fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit it, and travel through history… thanks for sharing your stories – right now, we’re in a happy city, getting back from colorful & full-of-joy carnaval… Kind regards, http://3rdculturechildren.com

  13. chelsea Says:

    I love your blog and your message. As someone raised Christian and now married to a Muslim it is great to have resources like this as we prepare for children and our life together. I’d love to see you have more followers, so I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award. If you are interested in accepting the award please check out my blog post on it. (It’s sort of like a chain blog to help gain more readers to your blog.) I’m excited to get a copy of your book when I get back to the States!

    http://lifegoneexpat.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/the-liebster-award/

  14. Laney Bell Says:

    Hi, do you have any knowledge of marriages between religious and atheist people, and how they raise their children?


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