Interfaith marriages are happening more and more often. I myself am in an interfaith marriage, and I must admit it has had its challenges. Trying to find a Rabbi to assist with our marriage ceremony was an eye opener for this Midwest girl. To be told that what we were doing (getting married out of our respective faiths) was wrong and that it was not supported by the Jewish community hurt, both me and my Jewish husband. (For the record we did encounter a few nice supportive Rabbis, but the nos, especially the one that said that he and no one that he knew would EVER perform such a ceremony, still sting.) And to have it put on my shoulders that, because of me, any children we have would be considered almost like second class Jews in a sense, if they were considered Jewish at all, was a hard pill to swallow. This sent me into a great deal of research. The general consensus is that the child can be ‘converted’ as a baby in the Reform sect and as part of their Brit Milah ceremony (ceremony for the coven with God preformed with males at 8 days old) and the Bris Bat (the baby naming ceremony for girls, also preformed at 8 days old). I do know that the Reform sect is a much more accepting sect and that they welcome interfaith couples and families, and that that is the sect that we would have to belong to if we decide to join a synagogue.
I feel that it is harder if it is the man that marries out of the faith because to have ‘truly Jewish children‘ the mother must be Jewish. This future mother is not converting. It is something that I have put a great deal of thought into to be honestly. My sister-in-law converted when she married my husband’s oldest brother, so there is precedence. I believe that to convert, one must truly feel the calling to that religion. I do not believe that conversion should be done on a whim or to appease someone else. This is YOUR faith, YOUR beliefs. If you don’t believe in the faith to which you are converting, then it is a sham. Mind you, this is all just one humble Midwestern girl’s opinion.
Back to Jewish kids and a non-Jewish mommy. My husband and I believe in raising our children in both traditions. I say traditions because I am not particularly religions, and my husband is a non-practicing Jew. I believe in God and being a good person etc. but never got on the organized religion band wagon. Anyway, husband would like our children raised in the Jewish faith. That is fine with me, as long as I can take them to other religious groups to expose them to other cultures and to explain that just because people practice their faith different does not make it wrong or that we should be afraid of them or be mean to them. Having different faiths in the world makes the world a more beautiful place.
I have a link below to an article from a group called Inter Faith Family out of Boston. I am hit or miss on the articles that they post, mostly because as the non-Jewish partner of an interfaith union I do not always feel supported by the articles that they write. (Because it is almost always the Jewish partner who is writing it.) But this article had some nice points. So if you have the time, give it a read: