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10.31.17: Celebrating Interfaith Family Month

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By Rabbi Robyn Frisch, Director of InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia
 

 

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In 1973 CBS executives cancelled the TV show Bridget Loves Bernie in response to hate mail from viewers who opposed the show’s portrayal of the couple’s interfaith marriage. To this day, Bridget Loves Bernie is the highest rated TV show to be cancelled after only one season.

 
A lot has changed in the nearly 45 years since Bridget Loves Bernie’s interfaith marriage was too controversial for primetime television. The number of Jews in interfaith marriages has greatly increased (according to the Pew Research Center’s 2013 Portrait of Jewish Americans, 71 percent of liberal Jews who are getting married are marrying someone who isn’t Jewish). As I wrote in a blog a few years ago, it’s no longer “a shock when Bridget loves Bernie (or, for that matter, when Bridget loves Bernice).”

 
At InterfaithFamily, we welcome and celebrate all of the “Bridgets” and “Bernies” out there – and we empower them to engage in Jewish life and make Jewish choices. We have a free clergy referral service for interfaith couples and families looking for Jewish clergy to officiate life cycle events, and our website provides resources and personal stories of people in interfaith relationships. Additionally, as part of our Your Community Initiative, we have offices in several cities, including Philadelphia, where we offer workshops and programs for couples in interfaith relationships as well as individual consultations. InterfaithFamily also works with synagogues and Jewish institutions to help them welcome and embrace people in interfaith relationships, so that they can contribute to Judaism’s enduring strength and continuity. Here in Philadelphia, InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia provides Professional Development for local Jewish organizations, as do our local offices in other communities.

 

And in Philadelphia, each November we celebrate Interfaith Family Month. In the month of Thanksgiving, we show our thanks to all of the interfaith couples and families in our area. This November, 77 Philadelphia area synagogues and Jewish organizations, including the National Museum of American Jewish History, are participating in Interfaith Family Month. The participating organizations join us in making a bold statement that we will continue to build an inclusive Jewish community.

 
As I have written: “Bridget and Bernie are ready for primetime. And for [InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia] ‘primetime’ is the month of November, when we celebrate Interfaith Family Month. [During this month we join together with other organizations to let people in interfaith relationships] know that we don’t just tolerate them, but we are grateful to them for their commitment to Judaism and Jewish continuity. [We] let those Jews who have partners who aren’t Jewish know that …we hope that they will fully engage in the Jewish community, and that we don’t see their choice of a life-partner as a reflection on their Jewish commitment. [We] declare that rather than fighting against intermarriage, we are working for a vibrant Jewish community—and we welcome anyone who wants to join us. [During] Interfaith Family Month [we] let all of the ‘Bernies’ out there know that we don’t love them any less because they love ‘Bridget. And [we let] all of the ‘Bridgets’ out there [know that] we hope that just as you love ‘Bernie,’ you will come to love his Jewish community too, because we are committed to building a Jewish community where the two of you can truly feel at home.”

 
I hope that you’ll join InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia and all of the organizations participating in Interfaith Family Month 2017 in showing your gratitude to the interfaith couples and families you know that are engaging with the Jewish community. And if you yourself are in an interfaith relationship, we would love to connect with you. Visit interfaithfamily.com/Philadelphia to learn more.


 
NMAJH is proud to participate in Interfaith Family Month. Throughout the month, a special visitor guide geared toward Interfaith Family experiences will be available at the front desk.

 


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