New research shows that interfaith couples who have a rabbi officiate at their weddings do raise their children Jewish – and they join synagogues, too.
By genuinely embracing interfaith families, more of the spouses from other faith backgrounds are likely to adopt Jewish identities.
The future of liberal Judaism depends on engaging interfaith families in Jewish life. Because we live in a celebrity-driven culture, the wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky offers a rare opportunity to influence more interfaith couples to make Jewish choices. Yet instead our Jewish leaders’ responses seem almost calculated to push those couples away.
There is extraordinary news from Boston’s 2005 Jewish Community Study: 60% of its children in intermarried households are being raised as Jews, compared to the national rate of 33%. The significance of the 60% figure cannot be overstated. First, it should end the debate over the effectiveness of outreach. Second, every local Jewish community can duplicate Boston’s pioneering approach to intermarriage — at a cost of just 1% of the community’s annual spending.