Lisa Robbins, director of outreach and engagement initiative “Let My People Know” at the Tampa Jewish Community Center and Federation, recently spoke to JOI associate executive director Paul Golin about intermarriage and what the Jewish community can do to support intermarried families who are raising Jewish children.
The interview, which you can watch on YouTube, is a great starting point for anyone who wants to not only understand the work we do, but also understand why we feel so strongly that being open and inclusive toward intermarried families is vital to our future as a Jewish community.
Robbins spoke to Golin at length about his new book “How to Raise Jewish Children… Even When You Are Not Jewish Yourself.” Written with JOI executive director Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky, Golin explained the motivation for the book was born from what JOI had been hearing from intermarried couples who are trying to create Jewish homes. Many of these folks, Golin said, are “inventing it themselves as they go because they are unaware that they are not alone in this mission of raising Jewish children.”
The book, which covers everything from particulars like how to light Shabbat candles to broader discussions about intermarriage, is a way to show that intermarried couples can successfully create a Jewish home. “There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who aren’t Jewish who are helping to raise Jewish children,” Golin says in the interview, adding that we need to support them on their journey or else they won’t continue to make Jewish choices when it comes to their children, their family and their future.
During the interview, Golin and Robbins also discussed the evolving notion of who is a Jew, the sometimes negative connotations that come from being a child of intermarriage, and how we can do a better job of welcoming all newcomers to the Jewish community. Whether through intermarriage or conversion, what are we doing to help these folks feel comfortable once they take that first step into Jewish life? How are we creating deep and lasting connections that will engage newcomers for years to come?
Ultimately, Golin’s message is that in order to create these connections, we need to do a better job of sharing the meaning and relevance of being a part of the Jewish community. If we truly believe there is value in engaging in Jewish life, why keep it on the inside when instead we can go out, share it, and encourage unaffiliated Jews to join us underneath our Big Tent?
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