I love Unitarians! Some of my best friends are Unitarians! I grew up in New England, where Unitarians are very active, widely respected, part of the cultural norm. When the Unitarian Church in our town studied Judaism each year, my father, the local nice Jewish guy, would put on a Passover seder for them. And I am grateful that what has become the Unitarian Universalist (referred to as “UU”) Association has provided a home for countless wandering interfaith families.
I am aware of the lively debate on whether Unitarians are more “post-Christian” than Christian. I know that the Christian flavor of any given UU congregation varies greatly from church to church. And I also know that interfaith families have brought an active “Jewish UU” subculture to many of these churches. But still, it is a church, and some Jewish parents of interfaith children have trouble getting beyond that. Me, I feel comfortable, even inspired, in many UU churches.
But it is unlikely that a church (or synagogue) of any stripe will ever provide what I have now: an entire community of interfaith families on a journey together, an entire Sunday School filled with interfaith children dedicated to exploring both sides of their heritage. And we are dedicated to delving as deeply as we can into both the Jewish and Christian traditions. So, for instance, our program teaches the Hebrew alphabet and has a rabbi on the staff, which is not likely to happen in a UU Church.
My family is one of over a million interfaith Jewish/non-Jewish families in America now, and that number is growing by 40,000 new families each year. We need all the options to stay open for us. We need Jewish institutions to welcome us. We need churches to notice and try to understand us. And we need to continue to develop new models of how to be true to ourselves and give our children access to their rich inheritance.
5 Replies to ““So Why Aren’t You a Unitarian?””
This is such a thoughtful and well-written blog! I look forward to reading it regularly!
I loved loved this. Thank you for Not being a Unitarian. And writing about these issues so carefully and intelligently.
River Road UU Congregation (Bethesda, MD) changed its name from “church” last year, to my liking. We’ve been members about 8 years, along with a broad mix of people with diverse backgrounds looking for a spiritual base with social justice commitment. I tried a couple of Jewish affiliations with much less satisfaction, and consider myself Jewish–as much as that those who go to Synagogue once a year, and gladly serve on the Board of the Jewish Peace Fellowship, and as its delegate to the Center on Conscience and War.
Thanks for posting this link. I am aware of Rabbi Berman’s groundbreaking work in and with churches, and remember reading this story at the time it was published, almost a decade ago. I wish there were more institutions collaborating like this.