Yesterday, my debut column went up on Huffington Post. The debate in the comment section has been lively, to say the least, with disgruntled atheists, disgruntled Christians, disgruntled Jews, and disgruntled Pagans all weighing in. It is hard to encompass, in a single post, the entire philosophy of interfaith families communities. At Huffington Post, I will continue over time to present my perspective as a member of an interfaith community, as an interfaith child, and as an interfaith parent who has chosen to educate my children about two religions. Please join the conversation there! At the same time, no worries, I will continue to post at On Being Both.
The most urgent need is explaining to the world, again and again, that we are not attempting to mix two religions together, but to recognize and celebrate the differences. I think the terms “Interfaith Passover” and “Interfaith Easter” cue assumptions that we are creating mash-up celebrations, even though I stated otherwise. I explained this most recently, here, in my “Interfaith Purim” post. Purim is Purim. Passover is Passover. Easter is Easter. We celebrate these holidays together as an interfaith community, because we are a community, and because the experience of celebrating together as interfaith families is powerful. But the liturgy, the traditions, the contents of the celebrations may well be more traditional than you would find in some “monofaith” communities.
Please read my Passover and Easter post at HuffPost, and join me in explaining why we do what we do: become my HuffPost “fan,” click “like” on the article, and most importantly, post a comment and join the discussion there. To engender greater acceptance, we need to stick our necks out of the happy interfaith bubble we have created, and engage with the world at large.
Susan Katz Miller’s book, Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family is available now in hardcover and eBook from Beacon Press.
7 Replies to “Passover, Easter, Oy! Interfaith debate on HuffPost…”
I just wanted to say that I discovered your blog through Huffington Post (which I read regularly) and I am very inspired by what you are saying. I am a devoted Jew who found Buddhism offered me a deep spiritual path (a proverbial Jew-Bu) and my wife is devout Christian. We are both very engaged in and interested in the contemplative aspects of our traditions — and have grown immeasurably from exploring one another’s faiths. We are just beginning our family and plan to raise our children “both.” Actually, what we like to call “Interspiritual” — rooted in our own traditions and also open to all of the ways wisdom has manifested in humanity across time and place (see Brother Wayne Teasdale’s writings for a beautiful explanation of Interspirituality). We are running into many of the responses you have reflected on. We are inspired to know there are other “both” believers out there — and we will continue to track your blog and HuffPo writings. Just wanted to say thanks for putting yourself out there. And bring on that book!
So, the fact that you found “On Being Both” and are already contributing to our discussion here makes my HuffPost plunge worthwhile!
The various terms–interfaith, interreligious, intercultural, interspiritual–each represent a distinct possibility for connection and interaction. Each family finds one or more of these facets to be the most important to them. I sense a blog post topic coming on…
Susan, first of all, congratulations on your debut and your thoughtful column. I read some of the comments–interesting. How often will your column come out?
I, too, found your blog through the Huffington article. I think your perspective is refreshing and reassuring. I am an agnostic of Protestant heritage currently living in DC. I have fallen in love with a patrilineal Reform Jew (his mother is Catholic). As we have discussed marriage and family we have come to the decision to raise our children Jewish, but we intend to teach them about my family’s history (and my secular outlook) as well. I worry sometimes that I will struggle to find acceptance within the Jewish community, and hope that my future husband and I can tap into an inclusive congregation when I am older.
Who knows, you may see me in 10 or 15 years when I bring my kids to the IFFP 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful advice and support, and keep up the good work.
I think you will find most Reform synagogues, and smaller independent congregations, to be very welcoming at this point, since intermarriage is the norm. There will be moments where you feel out of place, but that is true anytime we immerse ourselves in a new experience or community. But do come visit IFFP down the road, if you want to explore that option. We run workshops for young (married or not-yet-married) couples, as do many local Jewish communities. Check out the Historic 6th and I Synagogue programming, to start. –Sue
While I see that most agree with your blog, I do not. If you are Christian, you are not Jewish. There are clear delineations between Judaism and Christianity. Now, one can be raised with both religions being taught – but one cannot go on as an adult practicing both. One can celebrate Passover and not be Jewish; however, Kol Nidre? Really? I don’t think so. Judaism allows for variations in belief – while Christianity does not. Many, for instance, are agnostic Jews. Many are active in the Jewish community because they believe in helping others. Many keep a kosher home not because they believe G-d is going to strike them dead- but out of respect for all those who have gone before… Many leave the “o” out of G-d out of respect, even if the word is a whisper in the ethernet. Judaism is more than being born of a Jewish parent (one or both), but is also a belief system.
If one of my daughters, for instance, chose to convert to Christianity, they would not be Jewish. They will always be loved by my husband (their Abba) and me (their Ema), and always welcome at our home to share in our celebration of our faith and our history, but it would no longer be theirs. They would have chosen a different path. It is not my job to choose the path for them, but it is my job to love them… No matter what belief system they choose, they should not think that they always have the option to sit on the fence. Life doesn’t work that way.
So, though my home is welcome to all who wish to join us for Pesach Seder – not all are Jewish, no matter how much they call themselves such.
Chaiah, I apologize for the belated reply, but I think your comment is important and deserves a response.
Re: “Judaism allows for variations in belief–while Christianity does not.”
This is simply not true. There is vast variation in the beliefs across a spectrum of Christian denominations (Roman Catholic, American Baptist, Unitarian-Universalist). And there is huge variation in belief even within many of those singular denominations. That includes variations in belief around Jesus (What happened at and after his death? What does it mean to be a messiah?).
Re: “…they should not think that they always have the option to sit on the fence. Life doesn’t work that way.”
Some who claim dual or multiple-faiths do not see themselves as sitting on fences, but rather as forming bridges between faiths that have historical connections. I understand that you do not approve of this perspective, and I respect your right to this opinion. And I absolutely support your right to raise your children with the beliefs, and in the manner, that you wish. But life does “work this way” for a growing number of Americans, as evidenced by recent Pew research documenting the rise in the number of people who attend more than one type of religious service, or incorporate more than one religious practice into their lives.