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Interfaith Families

Welcoming your interfaith family at WCT

At Woodlands, we want to make Judaism exciting and meaningful for ourselves and those we love. We believe that an understanding and appreciation of differences -  age, color, disability, sex, race/ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression – lead to healthy and inclusive communities. We also believe in respecting all people and hearing all voices in order to celebrate our shared humanity.

You may wonder what this all means for someone who is part of our temple community but isn’t Jewish. Do we welcome you as well? We respond with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” If you want Woodlands to be your spiritual home, so do we.

Some frequently asked questions:

How do I fit into the ritual moments at temple?

Because Woodlands is your spiritual home, we love having you participate in any aspect of worship and ritual. Please join in wherever and whenever you feel comfortable. If you like, wear a kippah (head covering) and/or a tallit (prayer shawl), offer names during Mee Sheberakh (our healing prayer), say Kaddish (the Mourner’s Prayer) for those you miss and, if you love to sing, join our Woodlands Singers. If you’re invited to come up to the bimah (from where our services are led), you are welcome to read in English or Hebrew, light candles, carry the Torah, and so much more. The only exception is reciting words that comprise a formal declaration of Jewishness (this includes any “asher kidshanu” prayer or Torah blessings).

Is my child Jewish? Can he/she/they attend religious school at Woodlands?

In the Reform Movement, any child with one Jewish parent is Jewish if they are raised Jewish (celebrating Judaism at home and in the community for holidays and significant life-cycle moments, as well as receiving a formal Jewish education) and practice no other religion. Since 1983, the Reform Movement has asserted that Jewish identity is no longer merely determined by the religion of the mother. While your child should only be enrolled in a Jewish religious school and living a Jewish life, they may learn about and share in their non-Jewish parent’s family traditions in sensitive, appropriate ways. At Woodlands, we teach our children that they can honor and cherish all members of their family (Jewish and not) as well as be wholly Jewish.

Am I permitted to participate in religious school events?

Absolutely. Not only do we welcome your support and involvement in your child’s Jewish education, we need it. Your encouragement will mean the world as your child’s spiritual development evolves.

What about when my child becomes a Bar/Bat/B’nai Mitzvah?

This is such a powerful and significant moment in the life of your family, and we want you to celebrate it fully. As with all B’nai Mitzvah parents, you will be invited to present a D’var Torah, a message for your child based on the morning’s Torah reading. You will also be invited to participate in the Chain of Tradition, during which the Torah is passed from generation to generation, for you too have played a major role in seeing Judaism passed down to your child. Because we respect your choice not to formally choose Judaism as your religion, you will not be asked to recite Torah blessings (whose words formally identify the reader as Jewish).

What if the unexpected happens and my Jewish partner is no longer in the picture?

We hope your inclusion at Woodlands will be permanent. If some unexpected scenario finds you assuming religious responsibility for your child, Woodlands will guide you in maintaining a Jewish home and life, and we’ll be on-call for you when questions and concerns arise. In the event of divorce, we hope you will continue to be an active participant in your child’s Jewish education and life.

Way down the road (God willing), may I be buried in the temple cemetery?

Yes. As with any temple member, our clergy will be available to you, as will the Woodlands section in Sharon Gardens Cemetery.

May my children recite Kaddish in my memory?

Kaddish (the Mourner’s Prayer) is a Jewish act of remembering. It need not be recited for someone who is Jewish nor by someone who is Jewish. If Jewish acts of mourning are meaningful and feel helpful, you are welcome to take part in them.

I love this temple! Can I be part of temple leadership?

Yes! We’d love to see you involved in temple leadership. If you’re committed to preserving and celebrating Jewish values throughout our community, by all means join our committees.

What about conversion?

While we won’t ever suggest that your religious choices are insufficient, if you are interested in formally choosing Judaism for yourself, we welcome your inquiry. Come sit with one of us and together we can explore what it might mean for you, for your family at Woodlands, and for your extended family of origin. We’re honored that you’d even think about it.

Still have questions?

We’re eager to meet with you to discuss any range of issues that are on your mind. Just let us know. We truly want Woodlands to be your Jewish home. Let us help you find a path that’s right for you. 

Tue, July 23 2024 17 Tammuz 5784