Our Upstairs Neighbors

Most American Jews have the sense that Canadian Jewry is in a much different place than American Jewry. While this may be true, it’s not necessarily the case for the reasons they think. It is true that the Jewish community in Canada is more traditional in most cases. And it is also true that its social politic may be more liberal (for example, gay and lesbian marriages are legal in Canada). But Canadian Jewry is not as distant from the impact of interfaith marriage as previously thought, or as often assumed by the American Jewish community. Perhaps that is what is heartening about the fact that the Canadian Jewish community is learning from American Jews—and organizations such as our own Jewish Outreach Institute—about how to respond to interfaith marriage, transforming the challenge into an opportunity for growth, as seen here in the Canadian Jewish News in an article called “JOI helps interfaith couples raise Jewish kids” (.PDF document).

We see it in their response to our Mothers Circle program for women of other religious backgrounds raising their children as Jews. And we see it across the board (Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal, Orthodox, Chabad; Federation, JCC, JFS, etc.) in response to our work in communities such as Ottawa—which is leading the way in its response to the current demographic challenges facing the Canadian Jewish community.

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