Much of the conversation in the Jewish community with regard to those who are not Jewish is about intermarriage. The conversation evolves around this question: What roles can those who are not Jewish and yet married into the Jewish community play in the Jewish community? We at the Jewish Outreach Institute believe that the role of these folks is significant, but the Jewish community has to be more welcoming and supportive in order for such roles to make a difference and have the impact we all desire. And while we know that it is more than just welcoming (since our recommended approach includes a lot more than just welcoming), there is an insufficient amount of that too.
In some corners of the community, there is also a discussion about those participants who aren’t Jewish who take advantage of what the Jewish community has to offer. These include those who might join the Jewish Community Center because of its superb fitness facilities or camp. Or those who might send their children to a Jewish preschool because of the reputation it enjoys in the community. These are what we often call “community non-Jews,” those who have no family link to the Jewish community.
But there is a third category that it is time to consider—those who are not Jewish who are put into places of education and influence in the community, such as preschool teachers and camp counselors. I think that it is time to make sure that we provide a program of education for this group of people who are helping to extend our efforts in securing a Jewish community, particularly for the generation in front of us.