Since 9/11: Interfaith Families, Interfaith Unity

Every year at the start of September, the memory of the trauma of 9/11 impels us to seek out community. And every year, I write about 9/11 from my perspective as an interfaith child and an interfaith parent obsessed with building bridges and making peace. During the first year of this blog in September, I wrote about the healing power of singing together, and the Jewish and Christian lullabies I sang to my children. Last year in September, I wrote about my relationship with Islam, and the convergence of Muslim and Jewish holy days.

This year, I wrote for Huffington Post about raising interfaith children in the decade since 9/11, and the two communities that have sustained my family in our search for harmony and understanding

I am encouraged to see a flood of essays and posts on the importance of “interfaith relationships,” inspired by the 9/11 anniversary. At the same time, it remains frustrating that virtually none of these essays acknowledges or mentions the reality of the growing number of interfaith families who have chosen radically inclusive love over tribalism and sectarianism, in spite of pressure from society and religious institutions. For us, thinking about preserving diversity while achieving unity, about celebrating both our differences and our common ground, is a way of life, not something we do once or twice a year in an interfaith worship service on 9/11 or Thanksgiving. The “interfaith movement” and the even more controversial “interfaith families movement” share goals, but often it feels like we are on parallel tracks.

A new study from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research found that interfaith worship has doubled in the decade since 9/11, from less than 7 percent of congregations, to almost 14 percent. The study tracked churches and synagogues and mosques that occasionally meet to worship together. Of course, I celebrate this trend. More knowledge, more outreach, more unity, it’s all good. But I continue to maintain that the growing “interfaith activism” movement might benefit from including, rather than avoiding, those of us who walk and talk interfaith relations from the moment we are born into, or choose, our interfaith families.

This Sunday, hundreds of members of our interfaith families community will remember 9/11 together with songs of peace, and the Kaddish. I invite clergy and the ambitious and energetic new interfaith activists to join us, to witness how a community that lives and breathes interfaith throughout the year comes together to sing and reflect in profound communion.

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