WSTHZ provides a warm, welcoming community for interfaith families. We believe that our congregation’s spiritual needs—and the needs of our families who have members from other faith or no faith backgrounds—are better served through meaningful and active inclusion of interfaith families.
We embrace spouses and children who are not Jewish in all areas of synagogue life. We want family members from other faith backgrounds to feel comfortable and engaged, and to that end, our clergy and staff welcome questions and conversations about how we include interfaith families in our community. Children of interfaith families are welcomed in our preschool and religious school. For life cycle events, the participation of a spouse or other significant family member who is not Jewish is invited and encouraged, including the following as examples:
- Birth – Parents and other family members from other faith backgrounds may share blessings or readings from the bima (pulpit) during a child’s baby-naming ceremony (simhat bat or brit milah).
- Bar/Bat Mitzvah – Spouses from other faith backgrounds are welcome to stand with their child on the bima and encouraged to participate in select areas of the service where they feel comfortable. Family members from other faith backgrounds may be invited to read a prayer in English or participate in other select honors.Following Conservative Jewish law, children of a mother who is not Jewish must undergo a ritual conversion before their b’nai mitzvah. Our clergy will ensure that children have a beautiful and meaningful conversion experience that fits where they are in their Jewish journey.
- Marriage – Conservative Jewish law allows WSTHZ clergy to officiate only marriages between two Jewish individuals. At those weddings, family members from other faith background may offer words of blessing at the signing of a ketubah (marriage contract) and stand next to the huppah (marriage canopy) during the marriage ceremony.
- For interfaith couples wishing to marry, our clergy is glad to provide counsel and support.
- Death – Clergy will counsel and support all bereaved family members, and invites family members who are not Jewish to participate in traditional Jewish mourning rites and rituals, such as shiva, kaddish, and yahrzeit.
In recognition of the unique journeys of and challenges faced by interfaith families, we periodically offer programming designed specifically to support and acknowledge them. These complement our efforts to include interfaith families in every facet of our congregational life.
Interfaith Family (Chicago chapter) offers information and assistance that may useful to interfaith families.