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Interfaith Families


At Shir Hadash we welcome families that include non-Jewish members and those who consider themselves half-Jewish to actively participate in our congregation. We regularly hold discussion sessions and events designed to help interfaith couples and families share common experiences and explore solutions to typical challenges.

We periodically run Grandparents' Circle programs for grandparents of interfaith families and Mothers' Circle programs for mothers raising Jewish children who were not raised Jewish themselves. For interfaith questions, please contact Rabbi Nico Socolovsky

Not Jewish? Partners of Jews— Your Opportunities Here

You ARE a member! Congregation Shir Hadash opens our doors and our hearts to all of our members: Jews, partners and spouses of Jews, children of a Jewish parent. Whether you are affiliated with another religious institution or Congregation Shir Hadash is your only affiliation, Shir Hadash is a place you can call “home.” You are part of our Shir Hadash family. Your questions are always welcomed by our clergy and leadership.

Who May Be a Member

Membership at Shir Hadash includes adult Jewish members, their spouses or partners, and their children. If a Jewish spouse dies, or a couple is divorced, the non-Jewish partner is welcome to continue participating as a member. The parents or guardians of Jewish children are always welcome to join our congregation.

Membership Has Its Privileges!

We hope that you will find meaningful opportunities to participate at Shir Hadash. All adult members of Congregation Shir Hadash have voting rights at congregational meetings.

Shir Hadash committees and groups are open to all of our members. Partners of Jews often serve as committee members and may take on more responsible leadership roles as committee chairs, board members, or officers of the congregation. The Shir Hadash Men’s Club and Sisterhood invite all men and women in the congregation to become active members.

All of our members are welcome at every service. When you attend our worship services, you are invited to participate with the congregation in the way that you feel most comfortable. Please pray along with us, whenever the spirit so moves you. You are included!


All members, Jews and non-Jews alike, are often given opportunities to participate in services and prayers by lighting Shabbat candles, reading a prayer, participating in the Torah service, or leading the Kiddush following services. Directions are provided in advance to help you feel comfortable. Certain ritual honors are reserved for adult Jews, such as being called up for the Torah aliyah and wearing a tallit. If you have any questions, please contact the clergy.

If you or a loved one, Jewish or not, are in need of prayers for healing, we will gladly include their names on our Prayer for Healing (Mi Shebeirach) list. Please contact the office to advise the clergy of your needs.

Adult Study

Our congregation’s adult study opportunities are open to all members of our community. We offer a wide variety of educational and entertaining programs throughout the year. Several programs may be of particular interest to you.

A Taste of Judaism provides an overview of the central tenets of Judaism in just three free classes.

Introduction to Judaism is the class for you if you are interested in a more comprehensive study of Judaism and an introduction to Hebrew. Though conversion candidates do take this course, it is not designed exclusively for them; at any time, the class consists of Jews, partners of Jews and members of the local community interested in learning more about Judaism.

Adult Hebrew offerings will help you participate in our worship services. And, if you have children who are learning Hebrew, you will be more able to help them with their homework!

You may wish to attend Introduction to the Worship Service, which explains the structure of the service and the meaning of many prayers. This understanding can enhance your worship experience at Shir Hadash.

Our Youth Education Programming

If you are a parent of a Kulanu (religious school) student, you will find that Jewish parents and partners of Jews are treated similarly. Please participate with your child in our family education programs and other opportunities for parental involvement in with Kulanu such as helping in the classroom, serving on committees, and participating in family education programs.

Our faculty is sensitive to the fact that many of our Religious School students have a non-Jewish parent and many of our students have at least one non-Jewish grandparent. If any questions arise, please contact Rabbi Walden.

Considering Conversion?

Perhaps you are interested in becoming a Jew. While non-Jews are more than welcome to continue their Congregation affiliation and involvement for a lifetime, we encourage and support conversion for those who are interested.

If you are interested in exploring conversion, the process might begin by consulting with a clergy member or participating in an educational program to learn more about Judaism (such as A Taste of Judaism and Introduction to Judaism). Candidates for conversion are encouraged to attend worship services and to begin living a Jewish life. Our clergy is delighted to consult with you on this significant step.

Your Marriage

Our congregation honors and recognizes every marriage, whether between two Jews or between a Jew and a non-Jew, whether between a man and a woman or between two people of the same gender.

All couples are invited to participate in a prenuptial blessing ( aufruf) on the bimah, during a worship service prior to the wedding. Please reach out to Rabbi Nico with your questions.

Your Jewish Baby

The child of a Jewish parent and a non-Jewish parent, by birth or by adoption, who is raised exclusively as a Jew, is considered to be Jewish here at Congregation Shir Hadash and by the Reform movement. The fact that the child has a non-Jewish parent does not make the child less Jewish in our eyes. Please ask any of the clergy if you have questions about standards for raising one’s child “exclusively” as a Jew, or if you wonder about how your child’s Jewish status is perceived among Conservative or Orthodox Jews, or in Israel.

Non-Jewish parents and grandparents may enjoy significant roles in raising a Jewish child, beginning with the baby naming or b'rit milah (covenant of circumcision). Our clergy are eager to make all of these occasions joyous for you and all members of the family.

Please contact  one of the rabbis to discuss these rituals as soon as you know that you are expecting. We can be your guides.

Your Child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah

We want your child’s bar/bat mitzvah to be a joyous occasion for the entire family.

We honor your commitment and support. While there are differences between the roles of Jewish parents and partners of Jews, our congregation strives to provide meaningful opportunities for everyone to participate. Grandparents and other relatives also are invited to take part in the ceremony in significant ways.

On Friday night, you may be asked to bless the candles or to lead Kiddush. On Saturday, we hope both parents will participate in the parents' remarks during the presentation of the tallit, be present on the bimah for the passing of the Torah, stand together for an aliyah (Torah blessings) during the Torah reading, and recite the Shehecheyanu (prayer of thanksgiving) as a family in celebration of the event.

Times Of Difficulty

When times are difficult, the rabbis and cantor provide counseling to all of our members. During times of illness, the rabbis and cantor visit all of our members, Jews and partners of Jews, at home, in local hospitals, and at convalescent facilities. Through our Caring Community, members assist with food, transportation, visitation, and other needs. Please contact the office to discuss your needs with the clergy.

When A Loved One Dies

Congregation Shir Hadash, your community, and the clergy are here for you in your hour of loss. Whether your loved one is Jewish or a non-Jewish relative, we will seek to provide comfort during your time of need. Contact the clergy to advise them of your loss when the time comes.

What Happens When I Die?

Our clergy will officiate at all funeral services for burial or cremation for partners of Jews if the wish of the deceased is to have a Jewish service. Congregants are encouraged to clarify this desire with their loved ones while they are living. Funeral or memorial services for members may be conducted at Congregation Shir Hadash.

Our clergy also will participate in the non-Jewish funeral of a non-Jewish partner in a way that is religiously appropriate and which supports the Jewish family members.

Website Resource

Brochure Resource

Book Resources

  • Morris N. Kertzer and Lawrence A. Hoffman, What is a Jew?
  • Andrea King, If I’m Jewish and You’re Christian, What are the Kids?
  • Wendy Mogel, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children
  • Stephanie Hubert Schneider, Ph.D., Raising a Spiritual Child: A Jewish Perspective
  • Mindy Avra Portnoy, Mommy Never Went to Hebrew School (illustrated by Shelly O. and Jacqueline Haas)
  • Nancy Fuchs and Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, Parenting as a Spiritual Journey
  • Jim Keen, Inside Intermarriage: A Christian Partner’s Perspective on Raising a Jewish Family
Mon, July 22 2024 16 Tammuz 5784