On behalf of our Board, Clergy, membership, and staff, welcome to Beth Shalom Congregation. Everyone here at Beth Shalom is on a journey. We are all growing as human beings and as part of a holy community. Our synagogue welcomes everyone who wishes to enjoy the sweetness and beauty of Jewish life. Interfaith couples and families represent a significant part of our congregational family, reflecting the diversity and growth of interest in Jewish life.
We seek to provide opportunities for—and access to—Jewish study, prayer, and tradition for those who are born Jewish, who have chosen Judaism, who are part of a Jewish couple or a Jewish family, and who are exploring Judaism. As part of our congregation, you will be invited to participate, encouraged to ask questions, and supported in your personal and/or family journey. Whether you are seeking a spiritual home, an opportunity to celebrate Shabbat, Jewish holidays and a range of lifecycle experiences, or simply a place to build friendships and enjoy a variety of cultural and educational activities and a community in which you and/or your children can learn and grow, you can find your place here at Beth Shalom.
I invite you to call, e-mail, or visit with me so we can begin a dialogue about your own journey and how the wonderful opportunities Beth Shalom offers can provide a warm and caring community. Also, please feel welcome to attend a class, Sabbath service, or any our scheduled programs. All are welcome at all of our events.
With blessings for simha (joy), shalom (peace), briut (health) and hatzlahah (success),
Rabbi Susan Grossman
Keruv is the Hebrew word meaning “to bring close.” Keruv is the Conservative Movement approach to reaching out to interfaith couples and families and bringing them close to the joys of Judaism. Spearheaded by the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (a constituent arm of the Conservative Movement), Keruv congregations seek to welcome Interfaith couples and families and support them on their journey of Jewish exploration and engagement.
If you are an interfaith couple or family, or are related to one, and would like to learn more about interfaith Keruv opportunities at Beth Shalom Congregation or be matched to a buddy who is also part of an interfaith couple, please contact Rabbi Grossman. ([email protected])
Interfaith Involvement at Beth Shalom
All members of the family can have a role in your upcoming simha (happy event) at Beth Shalom:
Brit Milah and Brit Banot (Covenant Ceremony for a Girl)
Rabbi Grossman and Beth Shalom can welcome the new addition to your family with either a Brit Milah (ritual circumcision) for a boy or a Brit Banot (Covenant Ceremony or Baby Naming Ceremony) for a girl. Brit Milah for a boy takes place on the eighth day after birth under the supervision of a certified Mohel. Brit Banot can take place at a mutually convenient time, often with the first few months of birth. Both ceremonies welcome the baby into the Jewish community and bestow upon the child his or her Hebrew name. Rabbi Grossman can officiate at these celebrations and help you plan how to involve Interfaith family members in meaningful and moving ways. Either ceremony can take place in the synagogue or in your home.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony is an important rite of passage as a Jewish child becomes a Jewish adult at the age of 13. Interfaith parents, grandparents and other significant family members are important parts of the Bnai Mitzvah experience and can be included on the bimah during the service in a variety of ways.
On Friday night at the completion of services, Jewish and non-Jewish parents participate in recessional march with clergy out of the sanctuary and in the reception line following services. On Saturday morning, non-Jewish parents and relatives may take part on the bimah in the presentation of the tallit and by reciting an English blessing for the student after the Torah Scrolls are returned to the Ark during the service. Interfaith parents can also choose to stand together with their child on the bimah to jointly recite a parental prayer especially composed for our Interfaith parents.
The union of a couple is always a celebratory event. Rabbi Grossman will be happy to meet with all couples contemplating marriage, provide the same pre-marital counseling offered all couples, if desired, and can discuss opportunities for involvement in Judaism and the synagogue. Please be aware that Rabbis and Cantors in the Conservative Movement are only permitted to officiate at a marriage between two members of the Jewish faith. Nevertheless, Rabbi Grossman and Beth Shalom can provide support and resources for all those considering marriage and for interfaith newlyweds.
Illness and Tough Times
Rabbi Grossman and Beth Shalom are there for our Jewish and non-Jewish Beth Shalom family. Rabbi Grossman provides the same pastoral visits and counseling to both Jewish and non-Jewish family members. Jewish and non-Jewish family and friends can also be included in our weekly congregational prayers of the healing of the ill.
Funerals and Memorials
Judaism offers much in the way of mindful mourning practices. Many Jewish traditions are universal in their ability to provide comfort at a time of loss. In the event that someone affiliated with our congregation loses a non-Jewish loved one, Rabbi Grossman and our Religious Committee will be available for comfort and support. Mourners who are not themselves Jewish can also choose to avail themselves of these traditions. Rabbi Grossman can discuss with you your options for choosing which, if any, of the available rituals and observances may be helpful in your time of mourning, including the option of having a memorial service in your home, attended by the congregation and your friends and family. Non-Jewish family can also be memorialized annually by Rabbi Grossman from the bimah on the anniversary of their passing.
All members of the family can enjoy what Beth Shalom has to offer:
One need not be Jewish to take advantage of the many educational opportunities offered by the synagogue. Everyone is welcome to our adult education programs and classes. A child need not be Jewish to attend our tots and Shorashim programs. Children of interfaith couples may be enrolled in our Religious School, provided that the child is Jewish or that parents intend to have the child converted to Judaism.
Social and Volunteer Opportunities
One need not be Jewish to enjoy the spectrum of social programming and volunteer opportunities at Beth Shalom including but not limited to social action projects, social events, Religious School and Sisterhood programming, and even holiday events. Non-Jewish members have been active in our Membership Committee; helped coordinate Social Action aide for the needy and Religious School class programs, helped raise funds for our Religious School through our bagel sale, sang in our Interfaith choir, played an instrument as part of our Purim Silly Symphony, and more.
Missions to Israel
Non-Jewish family members are an essential part of our congregational family. Therefore our congregational Missions to Israel also include visits to Christian holy sites so that everyone in the family feels a meaningful connection to the Holy Land. Bnai Mitzvah and Confirmation ceremonies celebrated in Israel include opportunities for the participation of non-Jewish family members.
Your family is invited to worship with us
We welcome both Jewish and non-Jewish family members to worship at all services. Weekday, Shabbat and holiday services are open to members of all faiths.
Life Cycle Honors
Interfaith families affiliated with Beth Shalom Congregation are welcome to participate in our services and are entitled to be honored and included in life cycle events in ways that respect the faith choices they have made:
- Interfaith parents and family can participate in a Baby naming in the synagogue on the bimah.
- Interfaith parents and family can participating in a home ceremony for a Brit Milah or Brit Banot (baby naming).
- Interfaith parents and family can present the tallit to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child on the bimah.
- Interfaith parents and family can recite a personally selected English prayer over the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child on the bimah.
- Interfaith parents can standing together on the bimah to recite a special prayer for Interfaith parents of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
- When experiencing the loss of someone who is not Jewish, Beth Shalom can provide memorial services (similar to shiva) in your home and can include your loved one’s name during memorial prayers and Mourner’s Kaddish