The VT Interfaith Initiative
We are more than half-way through our year-long Interfaith Initiative, sponsored by a grant from the UJA. Here is the list of events that are part of our efforts to extend our existing efforts and pilot new programs to welcome interfaith families, as well as deepen the entire congregation’s awareness of the connections between Judaism and other faiths.
Nov. 17, 2013
An interfaith brunch /discussion with our Rabbi, parents and temple leadership covered a wide range of issues that families contend with and inspired many suggestions for future conversations. Our Rabbi discussed her evolving thinking on the subject of performing interfaith marriages and other interfaith issues.
Nov. 27, 2013
The Village Temple co-hosted the annual Greenwich Village Interfaith Thanksgiving service, in honor of the convergence of Thanksgiving and Chanukah. Participants from many diverse congregations and faiths gathered for poetry, song and reflection, in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation of October 3, 1863, declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday celebrating “peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
In the Religious School, our religious school Director, Alex Tansky, initiated class holiday discussions in December centered on trees by sharing his personal story of the use of trees in Russia to celebrate Chanukah and then followed this with a discussion of how different religions use nature as part of religious ceremonies and celebrations.
April 6, 2014
Interfaith Havdalah with our rabbi and temple leadership, for interfaith families. This will be a social event; however, it will also include a brief service and discussion by the Rabbi about the relationship between Passover and Easter. This discussion will be designed to address the request from the interfaith families at the brunch to provide support in navigating holidays and integrating discussion/elements of other faiths without watering down Judaism. This event is for the entire family.
May 16, 2014
As part of The Prayer Connection initiative and end of year celebration of diversity, the Rabbi will host an Interfaith Shabbat service. Reverend Donna Schaper, minister at Judson Memorial Church (a Co-sponsor of the Thanksgiving Interfaith Service) will participate and speak about her family’s interfaith experience of herself as a minister, her husband as a Jew and her son who’s marrying a Rabbi. (See attached article by her son http://www.interfaithfamily.com/relationships/growing_up_in_an_interfaith_family/My_Wifes_a_Rabbi_My_Moms_a_Minister_and_Im_OK.shtml)
May 20, 2014
Interfaith Training for the Religious School Instructors, Clergy and Board Members and Shabbat Ambassadors. The Religious School instructors and assistant teachers will participate in a mini workshop/training to increase their awareness/sensitivity toward interfaith families when working with students in the classroom. This mini-workshop will be conducted by the Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI). Immediately following the instructor workshop, the Village Temple Board Members, clergy and Shabbat ambassadors will then participate in a 2-hour workshop conducted by JOI that will explore how to improve the Village Temple culture to engage members of Interfaith families, how to encourage interfaith families to engage in more meaningful Jewish connections and consider additional creative approaches to holidays, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, conversations and other key moments of engagement.
Recent articles of interest: