The Jewish Journal has a well-written article on interfaith families called “Jewish parent + Christian parent = Jewish kids” by Amy Klein. (Thanks to InterfaithFamily.com for the link.) The article talks with number of couples, discussing what it means to be an interfaith family. It goes on to make an excellent point:
“…despite the Jewish community’s decades-long panic that shrinking population figures are a direct result of intermarriage, recent studies and anecdotal evidence are finding that interfaith families could be more of an asset than an enemy.”
As part of an interfaith family myself, I think this point cannot be overstated. Too often, discussions about interfaith marriage focus on the fear of what might happen instead of looking at the reality of what is. I believe that interfaith families are a rich and dynamic resource for any community. The decision to intermarry is not a simple one, requiring thought, discussion and self-awareness. This means that interfaith couples often have a better understanding of the importance of their traditions than many non-interfaith couples. Ever since my wife and I first met, we have had more and better discussions about religion, family, tradition, and spirituality than we ever had before. The idea of marrying someone from a different background forced us to reconnect with our traditions, examine long-held assumptions, and began to determine what is really important to us. This conversation has continued as our children have been born, continually enriching our lives and (hopefully) enriching our children’s lives. Interfaith couples are actively engaged with their religion like few others, and I believe that any religion that openly accepts interfaith families will only become the richer for it. I’m glad to see that more Jewish communities are realizing this.