From the community

Interfaith Unions: A rich topic for discussion

Posted April 21, 2014, at 4:33 p.m.

Thursday, May 1, 2014 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Location: Adas Yoshuron Synagogue, 50 Willow St., Rockland, Maine

For more information: 207-594-4523

ROCKLAND, Maine — Interfaith couples involving one Jewish partner are invited to attend a discussion group at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 1, at Adas Yoshuron Synagogue, 50 Willow St., to meet other couples and share experiences, concerns, and wishes.
What has been your experience with the Jewish community? With your families? How have you dealt with religious issues? Cultural differences? Holidays? If you are raising children, how have you approached their religious identities? These and other questions are all welcome topics for a wide-ranging and open-ended discussion that will be moderated by Adas Yoshuron’s visiting rabbi, Natan Margalit.
Coffee, tea, and refreshments will be served. For more information please call the synagogue, 594-4523, or email info@adasyoshuron.
There is a high rate of intermarriage among people of different faiths in the United States. Estimates are that over 50 percent of Jewish men and women intermarry. These facts point to the high degree of assimilation as well as ethnic and religious tolerance in this country. Some see this as part of the declining role of faith and religious identity in the minds of many young Americans.
What is an “interfaith marriage”? It could be between one person who is Jewish and another who is Christian, but may also include Christians of different denominations or people of any different religions intermarrying. A few generations ago a Jew from Lithuania marrying a Jew from Poland might have been considered an “interfaith marriage!”
Secular Americans welcome the rise of interfaith unions as a sign of societal progress. As part of this phenomenon, it is not uncommon for interfaith couples to skirt discussion before entering into a relationship. Many interfaith couples feel that having the same values is more important than having the same religion in making a marriage work. Yet often, couples find out later that there are many areas where discussion is important.
Issues that may raise conflict or uncertainty include:
• How to deal with children’s religious identities and education;
• How individual faith and religious identity will be affected;
• Conversion of one partner to the other’s religion;
• How to address marriage and other life-cycle events;
• How to embrace/respect both religions;
• Acceptance (or lack of acceptance) as a couple to attend worship services in the other’s community;
• How best to learn more about the partner’s religion without necessarily converting;
• Joining a synagogue or church without converting;
• Acceptance (or lack thereof) by each partner’s family;
• If religious identity involves making a choice, how do partners choose?
If any of these topics are relevant to you, please consider attending the Interfaith Couples Discussion Night at Adas Yoshuron on May 1, which will be the first in a series of discussions and forums for interfaith couples.

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