What does a Hebrew school teacher or a Jewish camp counselor tell a Jewish child who is upset at the prospect of attending a wake for someone on the Christian side of his or her side of the family?
How should a teacher or counselor respond when a student or camper says, one of the things we had for Passover dinner was ham?
My mom and dad fight over where we are going to go for the holidays. I am confused. How does a teacher or counselor respond?
Questions like these and many others similar are asked at schools and camps around the country. The responses to these questions can be inspiring or damaging and detrimental to the development of our young Jewish children who are members of interfaith families.
The teachers are on the frontline; they are the first adults to see the children of interfaith families and interact with them. Their words and body language will go a long way to determine the future of these children as far as Judaism is concerned. These interfaith families choose to bring their children up Jewish and we must make sure they feel part of our culture by welcoming them with open arms.
The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC), through the Keruv/Initiative has provided expertise and education in working with interfaith families by creating workshops to train teachers, administrators, and for the first time camp counselors, on how to speak to children of interfaith families.
This fall Jewish educators in Cincinnati will have the opportunity to participate in one of those workshops.
Dr. Gary Smith the international co-chair of the Keruv/Initiative and Michael Sullivan, a junior consultant—together with the help and support of the Cincinnati Jewish Educators Council—have brought something collaborative and innovative to our community.
Keruv comes from the Hebrew word meaning to bring closer or to draw near.
The initiative runs seminars and training sessions for new consultants as well as think tanks for rabbis to help them acknowledge and welcome intermarried couples into their synagogues.
The workshop will be on Sept. 5 at Adath Israel from 6:30-8:30 p.m. C.E. credits are available. Lynn Wolfe will be coming in from California to be the centerpiece of the training. She previously started and directed Pathways—an outreach program for interfaith families—in the New Jersey area. She is currently a mentor for FJMC-Keruv/Intiative and runs all the training workshops. For more information or to sign up for the sensitivity training, contact Dara Wood, Dr. Gary Smith or Michael Sullivan at Adath Israel.