Are you or someone you know a member of an interfaith family or involved in an interfaith relationship? A Jew-By-Choice or a member of the LGBT community? Would you/they like to have an impact on Temple Bat Yahm’s policies and programs that involve and/or impact these members of our community? If so, please read on.
Temple Bat Yahm is reinvigorating its effort to include and embrace these members of our community (our temple community as well as the community at-large) through the re-creation of an Interfaith & Outreach committee and a Board of Trustees appointment. I’m proud to serve as committee chair.
• Outreach is an effort by the Reform Jewish community to welcome and include those seeking a stronger connection to Judaism.
• Outreach does not seek to convert non-Jews. Rather, it enables them to explore, study and come to understand Judaism, thereby providing an atmosphere of support in which a comfortable relationship with Judaism can be fostered.
• Outreach encourages people to make Jewish choices in their lives through community support and adult education, and by making Jewish resources readily available. Outreach also educates and sensitizes the Jewish community to be receptive to, amongst others, Jews-by-Choice, interfaith couples, members of the LGBT community.
• A final goal of outreach is to enable children and young people to clarify issues, to strengthen their Jewish identity, and to examine the implication of interfaith dating and interfaith marriage.
Temple Bat Yahm is committed to being a meaningful spiritual home for all our members, regardless of background, age, stage of life, gender or sexual orientation.
Is my non-Jewish spouse expected to convert upon joining Temple Bat Yahm?
Non-Jewish spouses and other family members are welcomed with open arms at TBY. It is a simple truth that without the support of non-Jewish family members it would be difficult, if not impossible, for us to have the thriving community we currently enjoy. While non-Jewish family members are welcome to participate in almost every way that a Jew may, there are some roles and responsibilities that can only be performed by members of the Jewish faith. Examples include being a member of the Board of Trustees at the Temple and accepting certain honors during worship services. Conversion to Judaism is a very personal decision and, although we are delighted to support anyone on that journey, it is not a prerequisite to becoming a valued person in our community.
Will my non-Jewish spouse be allowed to participate in our children’s life cycle events?
Absolutely! We regularly invite non-Jewish parents to participate in the life cycle events of their Jewish children. After all, non-Jewish parents are often the key to their children’s participation in this life celebration and it is only fitting for them to be included and recognized for their support for Jewish life.
Will non- Jewish grandparents be included in Bnai Mitzvah?
Similarly, non-Jewish grandparents can participate in many ways in the celebration of their grandchildren’s life cycle events. We hope that the experience will ensure that they know what it is to experience naches (pride in the achievements of one’s Jewish children or grandchildren)!
Are there any programs available at Temple Bat Yahm to increase my non-Jewish spouse’s comfort level?
From the array of adult learning offerings to the regular worship services we hold at Temple Bat Yahm there is a wealth of opportunity for non-Jews to gain familiarity and to feel comfortable in our community. You are welcome to participate in all of our learning opportunities. From time to time we hold sessions more specifically geared towards non-Jews or Jewish adults who have not had much formal Jewish experience growing up. A particularly good place to start is Coffee Talk on Sunday mornings during JCAL (our Sunday school). During these sessions we cover a wide range of topics including the nature of Torah, Jewish belief, practice and raising Jewish children. No question is off limits! You are also encouraged to make an appointment with one of our rabbis to discuss your own particular interests and to tailor a learning program just for you.
Will a Rabbi of Temple Bat Yahm marry us?
A wedding is one of the most exciting transitions in life and it is a celebration not only for the couple, but also for their families, friends and community. It is the beginning of what we all pray will be a lifetime of loving marriage. Mazel Tov on your momentous decision!
If you are planning to get married we encourage you to make an appointment to meet with Rabbi Zylberman as early as possible to find out how we can best help you in your exciting new journey. We are here to support all those who wish to explore building a bayit b’yisrael, a Jewish household. Each couple will be treated with great sensitivity keeping in mind their own individual circumstances and dreams for their future together. Please contact Debbe Katz, the assistant to the rabbis, to make time to talk at (949) 644-1999 x113.
Do you recommend any websites or literature to prepare our family before getting involved at TBY?
The best advice is just to jump right in! For those wishing to explore further reading we would recommend the following resources:
www.urj.org (the website for the Union for Reform Judaism, which represents Reform Jewish communities throughout North America)
www.myjewishlearning.com (a non-denominational resource for Jewish learning for all levels of inquiry)
“Living Judaism”, by Rabbi Wayne Dosick
“To Life”, by Harold Kushner