An Inclusive Journey to Adulthood

Congratulations to Rabbi Karen Bender of Temple Judea in the greater Los Angeles area for an inspiring congregational column addressing the congregation’s efforts to create a more welcoming environment for interfaith families.

In the column, Rabbi Bender expresses her belief that the act of welcoming congregant’s family members of other religious backgrounds is not only a moral responsibility, but a matter of Torah.

No less significant is the moral principle that is put forth thousands of years ago by the prophet Isaiah: “My House will be called a house of prayer for all Peoples.” In other words our commitment to Torah and its values includes a welcoming attitude towards non-Jews in our house of worship. We are not threatening Jewish ideals by welcoming non- Jews into the synagogue, we are fulfilling them.

This congregation is fulfilling these Jewish ideals by taking full advantage of Call Synagogue Home, a JOI project in partnership with STAR (Synagogue: Transformation and Renewal), generously supported by the Samuel Bronfman Foundation. Call Synagogue Home is designed for congregations of all denominations to use life cycle events to reach out to and nurture the relationship with interfaith families. Congregations can use these events—which range from the traditional, such as birth or marriage, to non-traditional, such as moving into a new home –to foster the relationship (and retention) of those who are already part of the synagogue community. Temple Judea has created a committee of invested lay and professional leaders who have dedicated themselves to look closely at how welcoming the congregation is toward interfaith families as they approach the Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience.

Now with their research behind them, we at JOI look forward to working with the Call Synagogue Home Committee to further their efforts in helping Temple Judea create a religious home for interfaith families and everyone else who has chosen to be a part of the Jewish community.

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