Viewing “Interfaith” Family Formation through a Progressive Jewish Lens

Our Little Minyan Kehilla has always been a welcoming home to those of us who wrestle with what it means to be Jewish in 21st Century America. Many of us have both danced intimately, lovingly with Judaism and also found “being Jewish” a dance that can conflict with ideas, people, and activities we value in our significantly secular lives.

Recently, a number of us have found the podcasts of Judaism Unbound to be both an outstanding resource and wonderful fodder for ongoing conversations. As their website explains, “Judaism Unbound … is a project that catalyzes and supports grassroots efforts by “disaffected but hopeful” American Jews to reimagine and redesign Jewish life in America for the 21st Century.” Eleven years after our founding as an independent minyan, eight years after our affiliation with the Jewish Reconstructionist movement, and well into our collaboration and affiliation with Jewish Renewal, Judaism Unbound has created a national forum for the type of Judaism we “do” at The Little Minyan Kehilla. 

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6 yr. old Asa fondly remembers LMK Yom Kippur services held at Columbus Mennonite Church in Clintonville.

Efforts to create regular opportunity for dialogue about the subjects and ideas raised through the podcasts were initiated by LMK member Nina Thomson after listening to three sequential programs on interfaith relationships. Nina and her husband, Jake Boswell, were raised in the same town and with different approaches to religion, and, as is the case with nearly all of our young families, their family is engaged in Jewish communal life as much (and, truth be told more so) because of the efforts of the partner who was not raised Jewish than the Jewish partner. Even with all of the reports of the decline of Judaism (and religion in general) in American homes, and the fears raised by Jewish grandparents and others about the negative impacts of intermarriage, the fact in our admittedly small sample population is that intermarriage can absolutely strengthen a family’s commitment to seeking Jewish community and experiencing Judaism in a very meaningful way.

To be clear, neither Little Minyan Kehilla or Judaism Unbound is “Judaism lite.” Both are committed to connecting people with Judaism in deeply meaningful ways. Whether through rituals steeped in millennia-old traditions or through entirely new LMK.Simchat Torah Sunshineparadigms that ancient Jewish texts could not have imagined, whether one’s Judaism is part of daily practices or a once or twice a year happening, and regardless of how one’s relationship with Judaism is perceived by halakha (Jewish law) or the statements of Judaism’s major American movements, Jewish wisdom tradition and sacred spiritual technologies are as relevant as ever in the 21st century, and as necessary to one’s psychological, intellectual, spiritual, and physical health.

In the spirit of the season, our next gathering on Saturday, December 3, Motzei Shabbat from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m., at the Clintonville home of Beth Conrey and Yutan Getzler will center on these questions:

  • What does a 21st Century “interfaith marriage” look like through a progressive Jewish lens?
  • How does Judaism manifest itself in an “interfaith marriage” in the age of what author Shaul Magid calls American “post-ethnicity,” where many of us are more likely to resonate with “spiritual humanism” than religious specificity?
  • In what concrete and constructive ways can we frame our languaging and practice of Jewish values within our homes and how does that interface with other values we hold dear?

Earlier this year, the Judaism Unbound’s podcast hosts and chief re-imaginers extraordinaire, Dan Libenson and Lex Rofes, explored these issues in 3 different still-jewish-mcginityepisodes (#15, #16, and #17), speaking with Dr. Keren McGinity and Paul Golin, and drawing on scholarship, studies and the lived experience of podcast hosts and guests to re-examine an age-old question. Please listen to the podcasts before you come (we envision this as the 21st century version of a book club). They can be accessed at http://www.judaismunbound.com/find-any-podcast-episode/. Consider taking notes about ideas you want to share or questions/concerns that arise as you listen.

Join Little Minyan Kehilla members for desserts, drinks and discussion at the home of Beth Conrey and Yutan Getzler.  Please note that the discussion is ADULT ONLY, however CHILDCARE will be provided on site with RSVP essential to ninathomson@yahoo.com. For further location information: contact bethconrey@gmail.com or littleminyan@littleminyan.com.

This entry was posted in Calendar, Family, Hagim/Holidays, Lifecycle Ritual, Mini Minyan, Spiritual Seeking, Tikkun Olam, Torah. Bookmark the permalink.

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