“Interfaith.” It’s so early aughts.
For decades, the label connoted a family with one Jewish spouse and one of a different background. In 2001, an entire organization called “InterfaithFamily” was created. Now many such families are done with using a single label to describe themselves, so the group has followed suit and renamed itself “18Doors.”
It also has a new website and has redesigned its Jewish clergy referral service, it announced on Thursday. These and other changes are the product of a strategic review process that started back in 2017, said CEO Jodi Bromberg.
“We often talk about these people as if they were one monolithic group and they’re just not,” she said.
Which is obvious, if you take a look at the slew of alternatives for “interfaith” Bromberg has collected, from the almost-synonymous (Mixed Faith”) to the amusing (Jew-ish, Jewish Adjacent) to the slightly snarky (A Modern Family) and even “half-Jewish.” That one has sometimes carried stigma, Bromberg said, so she discourages its use by Jewish professionals and organizations. “But some families love the term,” she said. “And if it feels right to them, they should use it!”
You’ve also got lots of portmanteaux in which two words are joined together to create a new one — the way a family is born. Black and Jewish? Try Blewish.
Here’s a curated list of some other options:
Jew-theran (Jewish Lutheran)
Jewnitarian or Jewniversalists (Jewish Unitarians)
Bromberg doesn’t intend to jettison the term “interfaith” altogether, and she used it several times during a conversation with this reporter.
“Old habits die hard. But also, it’s part of our vernacular,” she said. “It’s a term of art, particularly in the Jewish community. I just want the flexibility to use all the different terms out there.”
Contact Helen Chernikoff is The Forward’s senior news editor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follower her on Twitter @thesimplechild
Blewish,’ ‘Jew-ish’ and ‘Jew-theran’: interfaith families group renames itself
Helen Chernikoff is the Forward’s News Editor. She came to the Forward from The Jewish Week, where she served as the first web director and created both a blog dedicated to disability issues and a food and wine website. Before that, she covered the housing, lodging and logistics industries for Reuters, where she could sit at her desk and watch her stories move the stock market. Helen has a Master’s of Public Administration from Columbia University and a BA in History and French from Amherst College. She is also a rabbinical school dropout. Contact her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @thesimplechild.