Here’s something: More than half of Jews who got married over the past eight years wedded a non-Jewish spouse, and one third of intermarried families are not raising their children Jewish at all.
Interfaith families are certainly a hot topic, and the conversation was only amplified last October when a new study on American Jews highlighted the sharp rise in intermarriage over the recent years.
While access to statistics and percentages like those in the above study can be incredibly helpful in understanding the current trends of American Jews, the avalanche of articles from various outlets (and oh there were many) focusing on these numbers seemed to forget one very important thing: interfaith families are not a collection of numbers and statistics. They are real, live families made up of (you guessed it) real, live people.
In an effort to put a face on the numbers, Kveller is excited to kick off a photo series for the next month. We’ll be highlighting interfaith families through photographs and interviews to hear what it’s actually like to be in an interfaith family, or part of an extended interfaith family–no statistics required.
Stay tuned, and if you’re part of an interfaith family and would like to be involved, drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a list of the families we have featured:
1. Rachel & Scott Stein: On a road trip she fell in love with her husband–and his love of Judaism.
2. Sarah & Carl Chen: He agreed to raise the kids Jewish. She agreed to refer to soda as “pop.”
3. Gen & Max Tolsky: The most difficult part was finding a rabbi and a priest to officiate their interfaith wedding.
4. Alina & Scott Wickham: Their son is named for Ehud Barak. Their daughter, for Martin Luther King, Jr.
5. Maria & Steve Broutt: They are raising the kids Jewish, but celebrate Christian holidays with Maria’s Catholic family.
6. Jessica & Derek: They are raising their daughter with both Jewish and Christian faiths.
7. Victoria & Dmitri: This family celebrates with moon cakes during the autumn festival and matzah ball soup on Passover.
8. Laura Robby & Shawn Gaiero: What happens when your future non-Jewish husband offers to bring a challah to your parent’s seder?
9. Melissa & Marc Cohen: December can be difficult when you are the only Jews who have a Christmas tree.
10. Stacie & Andrew Garnett-Cook: When they met, he was skeptical about organized religion. Her love of Judaism helped him see the positive side.
11. Mayim Bialik & Family: When Mayim and her boys visit their Mormon relatives in Utah, they talk about who celebrates what and why.
12. Courtney Naliboff & William Trevaskis: They met at a rock club in Boston, where both of their bands were lined up to play. Now they live on an island.
13. Ben & Meida Tolsky: There isn’t much Jewish life in their area of China, so on Passover, they made their own matzah.
14. Adina Kay-Gross & Family: Sometimes they brought their menorahs or matzah to Christmas and Easter at Grandma’s.
15. Carin & Mike Mrotz: Mike’s not “letting” her raise the kids Jewish, they’re doing it together.
16. Elizabeth & Matthew: She still has unresolved feelings about Christmas and feeling left out of things.
17. Tamara Reese & Family: Since her extended family is not Jewish, things got complicated at the baby naming ceremony.
18. Michelle Tirella-Ventura & Andre Ventura: The biggest obstacle that this blended family has faced? Other people.
19. Amy Ravis Furey & Brian Furey: Though he has no intention of converting, this Catholic dad drives Hebrew school carpool and volunteers at temple.
20. Ali & Patrick McDonald: Tragedy forces this mom to wonder if she could be endangering her children by raising them Jewish.
This series was made possible in part by the UJA-Federation of New York.