Our hearts are open to you!
Beth Miriam, like all Reform Jewish congregations, holds the mitzvah (religious responsibility) of ahavat ger (welcoming the stranger) among the most important tenets of our faith. We actively welcome interfaith families into our community and encourage their participation in our synagogues. We work to empower people to make Jewish choices for themselves and their families and strive to provide resources to inform educated decisions. We strive to be welcoming places for people of diverse religious backgrounds, sexual orientations and ethnic backgrounds.
Many couples that begin with two individuals from different backgrounds need to integrate separate lives into one family. And for interfaith couples and their families that integration also includes differing religious traditions and cultures. Remember: you are not alone. Beth Miriam, our Rabbi Cy Stanway and the entire staff at the temple, in fact, the entire Reform Movement, welcome you. Beth Miriam is already proud to be a home congregation for many interfaith couples and families, and we welcome you to share in the warmth of our community. We invite you to begin a conversation with Rabbi Stanway to share your hopes or questions about being an interfaith family at Beth Miriam.
You may be wondering about…
What You Can Expect at Services…
Every Shabbat is different but you can expect a service that is understandable and spiritual. You will not be lost during the service as pages are announced and everything is transliterated (Hebrew in English characters) as well as in Hebrew and translated.
The services are filled with music, as well. Any given Shabbat you will keyboard, guitar, perhaps a flute, vocals, choirs and even bongos, tamborines and saxophone. We have even had an accordian and a tuba on the bima! We encourage singing and love when the congregation ‘sings a new song to the Lord.’ Come sing with us!
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Services:
Because you have decided to raise your child as a Jew, we at Beth Miriam strive to ensure that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience is welcoming to all members of your family. We invite both parents to participate fully in the service, from the ceremony of passing Torah down through the generations to standing up at the Torah during the aliyah (Torah blessing) to the opportunity to bless your child. Our creativity allows family members of other faiths to help celebrate your simcha (joyous moment) as well. Click here to begin a conversation with Rabbi Stanway about your family’s questions about Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Shabbat and Holy Day Services:
Being a welcoming community is central to who we are. From the moment you are greeted at the door with a smile, we strive to make you feel that Beth Miriam is your spiritual home. Our love of music ensures that everyone can enjoy inspirational moments in our services. Original English songs and mixed Hebrew/English singing allow maximal participation. Page numbers are frequently announced. All Hebrew prayers are also transliterated (Hebrew written in English letters); translations and commentaries of all prayers are featured in our siddur (prayerbook). Of course, Rabbi Stanway are more than happy to offer a quick tutorial on “tip-toeing through the tefillah (worship service).” We invite you to read about our services or to email Rabbi Stanway.
Learning More about Judaism:
Without pressure, we invite you (whether you are Jewish or not) to enjoy our programs and classes. Adult learning activities occur throughout the year and include weekly study sessions such as Talmud and Jewish Theology to book groups, evening programs, holiday programs and other events. Children in the Religious School also have a Family Project once a year per grade where families participate in what is always a wonderful experience. We invite you to learn more about upcoming Adult learning opportunities or to email Rabbi Stanway for full details.
Our Religious School is one of the most progressive and active in all of Monmouth County. Under the direction of Stella Jeruzalmi Stanway and with active and knowledgeable teachers, our school is filled with incredible activities of learning, sharing, caring and respect. You need not be a member of the temple to attend Pre-K through 2nd Grade. For information about the school, please go to the Religious School link or contact Stella Stanway.
Resources for Interfaith Families
In case you were interested in more…
The Color of Water by James McBride, a book about a young black man’s search to uncover his white Jewish mother’s past and his own identity.
Every Person’s Guide to Judaism, a book by Rabbi Stephen Einstein and Lydia Kukoff
Bechol Lashon, an eNewsletter celebrating multicultural, multiethnic and multiracial Jews
Jewish Outreach Institute’s Questions and Answers
Judaism 101: Everything You Wanted to Know about Judaism But Were Too Embarrassed to Ask
Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) Outreach Pages