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Learning to Engage Interfaith Families


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“I’m a talker, which is part of why I am pleased to have a job where I get to talk about Judaism every single week. It also means that, in addition to my public conversations, I find myself in lots of regular, day-to-day conversations about Judaism. Over the past many years, it became quite apparent that Jewish intermarriage (or interfaith marriage, or interfaithless marriage, depending on who you ask!) was on almost everybody’s mind in the Jewish world. Nearly all of the conversations I had around that issue were conversations focused on feelings, or inclinations, or pre-dispositions, or emotions. They often were about fear and trauma. But facts? Data? Historical context? Feh. Those didn’t come up so much. I realized that, as much as I had lived experience as a person in an inter-relationship, I didn’t really have all that much practical knowledge about the history of Jewish intermarriage, or even its vast array of contemporary manifestations. So when I heard that a program existed in which I could immerse myself in precisely that set of questions, I was stoked! When I learned that it was led by Keren R. McGinity a professor whose scholarship had already influenced me in a variety of ways, I was even more thrilled. I signed up. It was the right decision.”

One story I would share from my experience in the IFJE program is that in the second semester of our program, each week looked at one or two organizations working to engage interfaith families in a variety of different ways. One lesson highlighted IFC (Interfaith Community), an organization that provides religious education to children with one Jewish parent and one Christian parent. As a result of perusing their website and materials, I stumbled across the book Being Both by Susan Katz Miller and end up contacting the author. We exchanged dozens of messages about interfaith topics, and have re-connected digitally on a number of occasions since. On Judaism Unbound, the podcast I co-host, we invited her to be a guest on our show, and as part of my final project for that semester, I interviewed her once more. Miller’s work to amplify the voices of those couples raising children within a “both-and” framework of Judaism and another religious tradition, a large group whose voices are often overlooked, helped me think expansively about what a “Jewish family” can look like and signify. Without IFJE, it is probable that this connection would not have occurred. It’s one example of many regarding how IFJE has helped me re-think, re-evaluate, and re-vision Judaism today and for the future.”

(Lex Rofeberg, an online student in the Interfaith Families Jewish Engagement program at the Shoolman School of Jewish Education at Hebrew College, is co-host of Judaism Unbound.)

Learn more about Hebrew College’s IFJE program at

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