Today marks eight years since Beacon Press published my first book, Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family.
As more young couples continue to move away from institutional religious affiliation, some people have wondered if there is any need for a book (or two) on interfaith families.
And then, just yesterday, I realized once again how relevant this book still is. Mya Guarnieri Jaradat, an author and religion reporter for the Deseret News in Utah, published a lovely and moving piece centered on her Jewish and Muslim family. And I was honored to serve as a source of ideas, counsel, and affirmation, for that piece.
And then, this morning, a new study of the Jewish community in Chicago found 21% of (Jewish) interfaith families raising kids with two religions, as well as 12% of single Jewish parents, and even 1% of Jewish/Jewish parents. (This last category intrigues me. Presumably both parents identify as Jewish, but one or both also practices Buddhism or Paganism, or one or both parents are interfaith kids themselves).
So, even after eight years, and even in the pandemic, new people continue to discover the idea that you can honor more than one religious heritage. And I continue to be invited to engage with new communities, and new experts, as a consultant and speaker sharing my personal experiences as an interfaith kid and adult, and my research on #BeingBoth and #DoingBoth families.
In 2021 alone, here are just some of the marvelous opportunities I have had, all online, and in spite of the pandemic:
- I gave a Shabbat talk on the interfaith family in the Yitro portion (the story of Jethro), for a community with the delightful name, Wandering Jews of Astoria, in NYC.
- I made a second appearance on the Interfaith Alliance’s State of Belief radio with Rev. Welton Gaddy, speaking on Love Across Differences, for Valentine’s Day.
- I was on the Array of Faith podcast with J. Dana Trent, recorded for her World Religions course in North Carolina. Listen in to Susan Katz Miller: Interfaith Practitioner.
- I spoke on a panel called Personal Perspectives on Intermarriage, hosted by Nisa-Nashim, the Jewish-Muslim Women’s Network in the UK.
- I gave a guest lecture in a Jewish Studies course taught by Rabbi Vanessa Ochs at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville.
- I was a guest expert at an Interfaith Couples Workshop, sponsored by the Jewish outreach organization 18doors, in NYC. (They used to be interfaithfamily.com).
- I co-facilitated a workshop with Aisha Hauser on Supporting Interfaith Families in Our Communities, at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly (UUAGA).
- I was a guest on the Tattoos and Torah podcast with Rabbi Iggy Gurin-Malous at the T’Shuvah Center in NYC. We had a marvelous conversation on interfaith, intercultural, bilingual, and LGBTQ relationships, in the contexts of spirituality, addiction and recovery.
And coming up, I have the honor of co-teaching a workshop with Rabbi Mark Sameth, entitled “Non-Binary God, Non-Binary Spirituality.” Watch this video in which we get all excited about the workshop, and register now to join us!
So, yes, Being Both still feels relevant, and important. People from interfaith families are setting new tables, creating new spaces, and changing the way religion and spirituality will be practiced in the United States, and around the world, going forward.
This work is not done. And this work still brings me joy.
Susan Katz Miller is the author of Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family, and The Interfaith Family Journal. She works as an interfaith families consultant, speaker, and coach. Follow her on twitter @SusanKatzMiller.