Your Background is an Asset

Tell them. Tell them so that they can engage with the reality that many interfaith children, whether or not they were raised with Judaism, whether they have a mother or father (or grandparent) who was Jewish, want to be part of the Jewish community. Tell them, because demographically, a significant percentage of their clients, staff, and donors in the future will come from interfaith families. Tell them, so that they understand the ways in which you are an asset to their organization, because you provide an increasingly important perspective.

Your employer may or may not have a policy on the religion of the people they hire, and on how they determine Jewishness. Some organizations that span all Jewish movements (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and others), have felt in the past that they must default to the most exclusive definition of “Who is a Jew?” in hiring. I hope, instead, this organization will see the opportunity to revise and update any such policies for the interfaith reality of the 21st century.

Any savvy Jewish organization should be glad to have your expertise as someone from an interfaith family. How did you end up being drawn to work for a Jewish organization? What barriers do you experience in connecting to Judaism? How can people who were not “raised with much Judaism” go about obtaining more Jewish education if they want to do so? Do you experience benefits, as well as challenges, as part of an interfaith family? Your answers to all of these questions will help to educate your employer.

In the end, if this organization sees your background as a problem, rather than an opportunity, why would you want to stay? But it is best to know where everyone stands. Hiding this information reinforces the false idea that interfaith parentage is some dark secret. That outdated attitude is not good for you, or Judaism, or society.

Susan Katz Miller is both an adult interfaith child, and an interfaith parent. She is a former Newsweek reporter, and the author of “Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family” (Beacon Press).

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Your Background is an Asset

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