Welcoming Interfaith Families
Congregation Shaare Emeth is a welcoming community for interfaith couples and families. Today a large number of interfaith couples and families participate in all aspects congregational life. Our clergy and staff serve as guides to interfaith couples and families, helping them cultivate their own positive connection to Judaism.
Welcoming interfaith families and ensuring opportunities to fully participate in Jewish life is a natural part of our Congregation’s mission which states, “Congregation Shaare Emeth is a compassionate and inclusive community that makes Judaism relevant, meaningful and joyful.” Below please find answers to some frequently asked questions.
Do Shaare Emeth’s rabbis and cantor officiate at interfaith weddings?
Mazel tov to those getting married! We have clergy who officiate at Jewish wedding ceremonies for interfaith couples. Please contact Stacy Jespersen (email@example.com) who can help connect you with a member of our clergy or, if you have a specific rabbi or cantor you would like to work with, you can contact them directly.
My spouse or partner is Jewish and I am not. Will I be welcomed at Shaare Emeth?
Yes! All family members are warmly welcomed at Shaare Emeth, whether you come alone or with your family.
Do you have other interfaith families at Shaare Emeth?
Shaare Emeth has many couples and families who identify as interfaith. We welcome and believe the presence of members from different faith backgrounds can enrich us all. Non-Jewish members of Shaare Emeth serve as leaders in our congregations, including serving as members of our Board of Trustees.
Will my child(ren) be considered Jewish if one us is not Jewish?
As a Reform synagogue, we recognize both patrilineal and matrilineal descent. This means any child who has a Jewish parent is Jewish when they are raised and educated as a Jew. Our clergy welcome the opportunity to work with interfaith families on lifecycle events include brises, baby namings, and bnai mitzvah as well. We have many interfaith families in both our preschool and religious school and all parents are encouraged to join in all aspects of their child’s learning experience.
As the non-Jewish parent in an interfaith family, will I and our other non-Jewish family members be able to participate in our child(ren)’s bar or bat mitzvah?
The entire family is included in these celebrations including non-Jewish family members and friends. All family members are encouraged to participate as they are comfortable in this sacred lifecycle ceremony including by joining the Bar on Bat Mitzvah on the bima and reciting the aliyah blessings before and after the reading of Torah. Families will have the opportunity to discuss these opportunities further during the bar or bat mitzvah process.
Will I ever be pressured to convert to Judaism?
We value every individual for who they are and where they are in life. We will never pressure you to convert to Judaism. If, however, you are interested in learning more about conversion, our Rabbis and Cantor are always here to serve as your guides. If you are interested in learning more about Judaism, an Introduction to Judaism class can be a great way to gain a deeper understanding of Jewish life whether or not you’re considering conversion.
Are your services all in Hebrew? Will I be able to follow along as a participant from a different faith background? Am I allowed to participate if I am not Jewish?
Our prayer book (siddur) has Hebrew, transliteration into English and an English translation of the prayers. Throughout the service we read and sing prayers in English and in Hebrew. We strive to make our service accessible by announcing pages and sharing explanations of different parts of the service. We welcome everyone, both Jews and non-Jews, to participate in our worship services and other rituals however they are most comfortable including by reading, singing, meditating and celebrating with the rest of our congregation.
Does Shaare Emeth have any special programs for interfaith families?
Shaare Emeth’s commitment to serving interfaith couples and families also include ongoing opportunities to connect with the Jewish community through Shabbat and holiday celebrations specifically for interfaith families and educational opportunities to help make informed religious decisions and building a Jewish home. To learn more about these opportunities, contact our main office at 314-569-0010 and ask to speak with a clergy member.
My child is in an interfaith relationship and I want to help them find a meaningful Jewish connection. How can I help them find the right opportunity for them at Shaare Emeth?
Today Jewish families are more diverse than ever and many Jewish families include members who are not Jewish. All family members are warmly welcomed at Shaare Emeth and we have many opportunities for them to explore our community. We have found that interfaith couples and families often feel most comfortable when they learn and experience Judaism on their own terms without additional pressures. We encourage you to consider inviting your family to events which you think might be of specific interest to them either with you on own their own. We are happy to reach out to folks who might be interested as well if we have a way to connect with them. Our clergy welcome the opportunity to hear people’s stories and learn more about their needs and interests.