My Interfaith Declaration

I’m an interfaith child. I’m not confused or lost. I embrace my Jewish and Christian family. I explore the history and rituals of both religions. It is natural for me to switch off between my Jewish and Christian lenses, the way I switch between my reading glasses and my distance glasses. Each pair is useful. I carry them both with me. I need both perspectives.

I’m also an interfaith parent. My children are not confused or lost. They have been raised to celebrate both their family religions.  They have learned about both traditions in a religious education program with over 100 other interfaith children in Washington, DC. Our interfaith community here is part of a growing, international movement of interfaith families who do not want to choose one parent’s religion over the other. My children know that this choice is still unusual and highly controversial. They take pride in being different, in learning both Hebrew and parables. They wear the progressive lenses that fuse two ways of looking at the world.

I have hesitated for years before launching this blog, in part because I know it will attract some anger from both individuals and institutions. But as I advise interfaith families and groups around the country, as we forge this hybrid universe together, I wanted to create a forum to share our stories. I invite you to be brave, and do just that.

14 Replies to “My Interfaith Declaration”

  1. Christianity is the child of Judaism. In my humble opinion, Christianity, Orthodoxy, and Catholicism would gain much authenticity by a return to Jewish spirituality and practice. Christianity is, at its deepest core, an expression of Judaism. We are all related. Mitakuye Oyasin. Tikkun Olam.

    Dean Leh, M.A., M.S.Ed.

  2. Dean–
    Thanks for stopping by. Your blog on teaching American Indian high school students is fascinating. Some people object to the idea of Christianity as the “child” of Judaism and prefer metaphors that place them on the same plane, but personally, I appreciate your deep appreciation for Jewish spirituality and practice. Sue

  3. I am a Lutheran pastor, married to a Reform Jew, with two young sons whom we are raising in both faiths. Right now, I am working on my PhD – something to the effect of Christian theologies of Judaism through a lens of hybridity, interstitiality and postcolonial theory, and so I am fascinated, both professionally and personally, by your blog and your posts. I will certainly be reading your posts closely for tips on how to raise our two boys, and for how to articulate more clearly my own thinking. One thought I have been having recently, and would appreciate your input: I sometimes wonder about the term “inter”faith, which to me seems to imply stuck between two faiths, like someone in a boat stuck between two islands. I am wondering if “multi”faith might work better, at least for my family, to imply the presence of more than two faiths, both of which exist together…

  4. Your website is the biggest breath of fresh air I have come across on intermarriage. As you note, most of the books and articles out there are penned by individuals that are anti-interfaith marriage for various reasons. As a scientist, I can tell you that the empirical standards most of these individuals use are laughable. They seem to believe that the plural of (biased) anecdote is data, and they make far-reaching claims with little to no support. These arguments have become so accepted because there have been far too few strong, reasoned voices willing to oppose them. I applaud you for not only taking a stand with your intelligent commentary, but also for leading by example by showing how multiple faiths are not just some problem to get around, but the potential basis for building community.

  5. Welcome Peter–great to have more scientific perspective here. As a (more-or-less former) science reporter, I am all too aware of the soggy statistics and general paucity of research in this area. I love your phrase “the plural of (biased) anecdote is data”!

  6. Susan,
    Read about you in the Washington Post article. It is very gratifying to read about your experiences as a child of an interfaith family and to know that there is another voice on the web that views interfaith/intercultural marriage as an opportunity for building community rather than a problem to be reckoned with…
    [Paul’s comment “I applaud you for not only taking a stand with your intelligent commentary, but also for leading by example by showing how multiple faiths are not just some problem to get around, but the potential basis for building community.”] I’m in agreement on this!!!

  7. I’m all for intermarriage, and allowing children to learn, explore and choose. But as for embracing both faiths, there are areas of mutual exclusivity. Jews do not believe Jesus was the son of God. Followers of Christ believe He was God-in-flesh, not just a wise Rabbi. Jesus, himself, claimed to BE God. He was either exactly that, or a crazy heretic. You cannot believe Him to be both.

  8. Ginny–As an interfaith child, I answer the “either he was God or he wasn’t” binary challenge with a lot of questions. What is God? What does it mean to be God? How do we know what Jesus actually claimed, or was? Does it matter? How did Christianity break off from Judaism in terms of the politics, history, theology? For more, read my many posts addressing the Jesus issue, starting here:

  9. I’m happy to find this blog. I’m part of an interfaith couple and we embrace the idea that our kids are raised as Christian and Jewish people. It’s very difficult to find a group that even if accepting interfaith groups do not push to a single religion. I would love to find a group where we could feel comfortable enjoying both religions. Do you know if there is any organization in the Sacramento area that celebrate the idea of a interfaith family? Thanks.

    1. Sarah Beth–Interfaith people can be found in virtually every religion now. It is important that we create spaces to have our own conversations about both the joys and challenges of our interfaith heritage, rather than simply responding to the concerns of others who do not have a “gut” understanding of what it is like to be born into an interfaith state. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Hi Susan,
    I am so glad to have found you. I am intermarried and started a congregation (Jewbilation: Jewish Roots with Interfaith Wings) years ago that then morphed into an independent hebrew school for children of intermarriage along with other interfaith services that I offer as a jewish-born but interfaith minister. I recently met some colleagues of yours at an interfaith educators conference. What we (Jules, Beth, myself, and the group in Chicago who were not there) are doing, was underrepresented and barely acknowledged at the conference. I applaud your efforts and hope that we can talk sometime. I feel supported when I come across people like you who can articulate what so many of us are feeling. Thanks.

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