They Get It. They Just Don’t Agree

I correspond regularly about religion with a wonderful Evangelical Christian friend. In our always-respectful dialogue, we each understand our commonalities, and where our faiths are mutually exclusive. For me, the Torah has the last word 365 days a year. For him, Jesus is messiah and son of God 365 days a year.

For your children, however, you have chosen a construct where the Torah is the last word in one building twice a week, while Jesus is messiah and son of God in a different building once a month. I personally marvel at homes where parents don’t hesitate to choose what clothes their children wear, what foods they eat, yet defer decisions about a child’s religious identity until they are safely out of the house.

Nevertheless, my views are irrelevant. This is your family, and you are entirely privileged to raise them in your home as you see fit.

However, the issue here is not what happens in your home, but the attitudes encountered in synagogue and at church. These are hardly religiously neutral institutions. No matter how respectful of other religions, neither exists to foster dual faith homes. Nor is it reasonable to expect them to.

Some (such as Seesaw co-contributor Susan Katz Miller) have created communities premised on a “dual faith” model. While many of us question their approach, it is their right to create their own communities. In contrast, you are using a synagogue and a church — each based on certain religious premises — to further your individual goals, which happen to be at odds with those very premises. You can expect people to respect your family’s own internal decisions. But you should not expect automatic approval or agreement from institutions whose goals are very different.

You ask how to “explain ourselves so that people get it.” People quite possibly do get it, but simply don’t agree.

Harold Berman is a veteran Jewish communal professional, and the Director of, which provides mentoring and support for intermarried families exploring the possibilities of observant Jewish life. Harold is also, with his wife Gayle, the co-author of “Doublelife: One Family, Two Faiths and a Journey of Hope,” about their “intermarriage gone Jewish.”

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They Get It. They Just Don’t Agree

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