Interfaith Couples To Visit Israel

In the past, we have blogged about Mitch Cohen and his organization, Israel Encounter. Last year, he led a trip to Israel designed for those who have chosen Judaism. It was a way to support them as they began their Jewish journeys.

Cohen, a Jewish communal professional in Atlanta, is again leading a trip to Israel, but this year he is targeting another segment of the Jewish population. The organization is leading a trip for interfaith couples, and in order to lower the cost barrier, the non-Jewish partners get to travel for free. This is also a way to thank them for opening themselves up to Jewish life.

According to an article in The Jewish Times, the trip will introduce husbands and wives of a different religion to the Israeli and American Jewish communities by “helping them recognize the role Judaism can play in their family, and teach them the joy and beauty of Jewish customs, holidays, and beliefs.” The goal of this trip is for the families to “make a commitment to raising Jewish children in a home imbued with Jewish values and practices.”

Cohen, who founded Israel Encounter with Steven Chervin, said:

“This program is especially important when the woman of the interfaith couple is not Jewish. Women are the spiritual backbone of the family. They usually determine the spirituality of the couple, and it’s important they understand the importance of the Jewish experience.”

We couldn’t agree more. At JOI, we have created numerous programs to support and educate interfaith families, such as Mothers Circle, designed for women of other religious backgrounds raising Jewish families, and Empowering Ruth, for women who have recently chosen Judaism. Like Israel Encounter, our goal is to create a warm and supportive environment for everyone who desires a welcoming and inclusive Jewish community.

Good luck, Mitch, and we are confident your trip will be a success!


  1. sounds like a great trip.

    i think it’s important to offer excursions to Israel for interfaith couples so they can see what Judaism has to offer them (and there’s no better place to do that than Israel, of course). the lower cost is probably very attractive to many of these couples, especially those who may not be able to afford such trips.

    many of the participants on my Birthright trip came from interfaith families, and none of them felt awkward or inferior to their peers who came from in-married or conversionary families. everyone got along (for the most part) fairly well.

    hopefully this trip will be a success and other major metropolitan cities will follow suit and incorporate this program into their organizations. in addition to married or engaged couples, perhaps couples who are dating seriously (for example, they need to be together for a minimum of 1 year to qualify) can also have the opportunity to travel to Israel as well. just a thought.

    Comment by h. — February 26, 2008 @ 9:11 pm

  2. By the way, our deadline for enrolling participants has been extended to Mar 28 and we can now invite interfaith couples throughout the southeast. If you or anyone is interested, then go to:

    We will be expanding to other cities in the next two years, so keep posted!

    Mitch Cohen
    Asst Dir
    Israel Encounter

    Comment by Mitch Cohen — March 7, 2008 @ 11:17 pm

  3. Israel is not tolerant to interfiath couples and with good reason. Jews should be marry other Jews. Even secular Jews in Israel have strong attitudes against intermarriage. Non-Jewish mothers can not successfuly raise Jewish children. It’s delusional to think otherwise.

    Comment by anti-intermarriage — March 18, 2008 @ 6:51 pm

  4. It’s unfortunate to read comments so counter-productive to the growth of the Jewish community. We live in a pluralistic society where interfaith marriages have become a fact of life, and a low cost trip to Israel is a great way to encourage these couples to embrace a Jewish life. Women raising Jewish children in a faith that is not their own should be applauded for their efforts, not denigrated. Rather than spreading messages of intolerance, it’s better to spend our time welcoming and engaging interfaith couples.

    Comment by Levi Fishman — March 19, 2008 @ 10:06 am

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