Earlier this summer, we blogged about two interfaith trips to Israel – Mitch Cohen’s Israel Encounter, and Interfaith Connection, run through the JCC in San Francisco. Next spring, according to Portland’s Jewish Review, interfaith families will have even more options.
Marisa Brown is chair of the Invitation to Israel, a trip for interfaith couples that aims to “deepen their understanding of each others religious heritage through a shared journey to Israel.” Couples qualify for the trip as long as they identify themselves as interfaith – they don’t have to be married. Brown, who said she came up with the idea while on a trip to Israel in 2007, explained:
“While I was there, I wanted my husband to be there with me,” she said. “Ron’s not Jewish, but I thought how great it would be if we could see it together and that would deepen and strengthen our relationship in a number of ways. He could see the importance of Israel from a Jewish perspective and there’s so much he would be interested in.”
It’s exciting to see this proliferation of interfaith trips to Israel. One thing all three trips have in common is their efforts to keep costs down - or, in the case of Israel Encounter, offer free travel for the non-Jewish spouse. Lowering the cost barrier is a great way to encourage interfaith couples to participate in the trip, where they will hopefully be inspired to embrace and celebrate the heritage of the Jewish partner. We applaud these groups for working to give interfaith couples more access to Israel, which we believe will lead to greater Jewish engagement when they return and a stronger North American Jewish community.