We recognize that the decision of interfaith couples and families to join and participate in synagogue life may not be easy. We are grateful, therefore, that you are exploring Congregation B’nai Emunah.
In using the term “couple”, we include any two individuals in a committed relationship who undertake important decisions together and choose to become part of the community in accordance with their commitment.
We welcome interfaith couples and families, just as we welcome all singles and families to Congregation B’nai Emunah. People with faith backgrounds other than Judaism and those with no faith background pray with us, study with us, share in holiday celebrations and participate in lifecycle events. We encourage you to become full, active members of the congregational family, and we invite non-Jewish partners to participate fully in the life of the synagogue. As a Conservative synagogue, we strive to include everyone in building a close-knit and personally interconnected community based on Jewish tradition, learning and observance.
Congregation B’nai Emunah prides itself on being a welcoming synagogue. The following are a sampling of policies designed to make interfaith couples and families feel included. In defining policies, we have engaged diverse members of our community in dialogue, learned from other synagogues locally and nationally, and have sought guidance in Jewish tradition to define positions that are both inclusive and consistent with the letter and spirit of Judaism.
- Interfaith couples and families are eligible for membership in the Congregation on the same basis as other couples and families. Each adult has the same right of voting and Congregational participation.
- We strive to include and integrate interfaith couples and families into all of our programs – study and worship opportunities, social and volunteer activities.
- Adult “patrilineal” Jews (Jewish father, non-Jewish mother) are regarded as Jewish for membership purposes. After becoming a member you are encouraged to undertake a process with the Rabbi resulting in affirmation of your Jewish identity.
- Congregation B’nai Emunah clergy can only officiate at the weddings of two Jews. For interfaith couples, we want to keep you in our Congregational family by referring you to the services of an officiant who can accommodate your needs for a Jewish wedding ceremony. All couples married under the auspices of Congregation B’nai Emunah are offered a one-year membership in celebration of your simcha.
- In preparation of children from interfaith families for bar/bat mitzvah, the Rabbi will consult with the family regarding affirmation of the child’s Jewish identity; this may entail immersion in the mikvah (ritual bath) at the conclusion of this process.
- In all life cycle events, such as welcoming newborn babies and bar/bat mitzvahs, all family members are invited to the bima (pulpit) to join in celebration, offer congratulatory remarks, and lead English readings from the siddur (prayerbook). Synagogue honors expressed as commandments to Jews (blessing candles or wine, or reading from the Torah) will be offered to Jewish family members.
- We reach out to our members to assist in preparations for the burial of their interfaith loved ones. Similarly, we invite our members irrespective of their faith background to observe traditional Jewish post burial mourning rites such as shiva and kaddish, for all relatives.
Because no written policy can account for the specific circumstances of each family, please speak with the Rabbi about your personal questions and accommodations that might be made.
For those who choose not to convert but who desire to be active members of our community, we welcome you and are grateful for your presence. Your commitment is inspiring, and we as a community are truly indebted to you. While never pressuring anyone to convert, we welcome those interested in exploring Judaism to contact us for more information.
Wherever you find yourself in your journey toward Jewish life and community, it is our commitment to make you feel welcome at Congregation B’nai Emunah. In addition, if you would like to meet similar couples and families within our B’nai Emunah community, we would love to connect you; simply give the Rabbi a call.