This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with one of our enthusiastic Mothers Circle facilitators, Rabbi Adrienne Scott, the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel of Houston, TX about her Mothers Circle group and its successes. In our conversation, Rabbi Scott noted the many benefits of the program both for the participants and the congregation, as well as indicated her hope for the continuation of such programming.
Why? Since participating in the class, The Mothers Circle women have felt more comfortable creating Jewish homes, getting involved in synagogue life, and considering new options for their children’s Jewish education. In turn, Congregation Beth Israel has created a community for these women to join, and the synagogue can now pride itself on actively welcoming non-Jewish spouses/partners into their community. These women are not only being acknowledged, but actually served! As Rabbi Scott explained in the March 2012 Congregation Beth Israel bulletin:
The participants in The Mothers Circle and I have enjoyed our time together. It has been helpful for each woman to learn from one another in a safe place, where previously each person felt alone. By gathering together to discuss issues that are shared by everyone, tensions are diffused and questions are answered…. It is my hope that The Mothers Circle is a program we will continue to offer. These sensitive religious issues are important for every member of our congregation and most especially our non-Jewish congregants who are equally dedicated to raising Jewish children with strong morals and ethics.
As a native Houstonian, I feel especially proud to be working with Rabbi Scott and Congregation Beth Israel, a synagogue that embraces intermarried/interpartnered couples in the community and helps them create Jewish homes. Because the congregation has offered programming that creates a safe space, actively invited participants (not just though emails!), and publicized the importance of non-Jewish members in the community, intermarried/interpartnered couples know that Beth Israel can be a home for them. I hope their work in creating a big Jewish tent continues to foster Congregation Beth Israel’s leadership and growth in the Houston Jewish community.