For those of you who read Julie Weiner’s monthly column in the New York Jewish Week, I am sure you were touched as much as I was by the poignant description of her relationship to Rabbi Josh Simon, who died last year from a brain tumor. It is hard to celebrate with joy in the shadow of death. Perhaps that is what makes the joy of the birth of a child so profound.
What was clear to me in Julie’s retelling of the story of arranging for a baby naming for her first child and now her second was simple: rabbis play pivotal roles in the welcoming of interfaith families into the community. It might even be inferred from Julie’s experience that personal and charismatic leadership is so often the ultimate deciding factor for intermarried families in participating in synagogue life. Programs are important, as are policies, but the attitude that is expressed by professional and volunteer leadership seems to trump them all.
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