Har Shalom has a distinguished history as an egalitarian and inclusive Synagogue.  If you are the non-Jewish spouse or partner in a Har Shalom household, we encourage you to be an active part of the Har Shalom family. Here are some of the opportunities we offer:

  • Adult learning classes to help you gain a comfortable understanding of our services and Jewish traditions.
  • Full involvement in the volunteer projects, educational activities, and all non-ritual committees.
  • Full access to and assistance of our clergy.
  • Participation in the religious school activities and life-cycle events of your family members.

Our staff and officers will be happy to discuss with you the many opportunities available that will help you to become a vital participant in our Synagogue’s community.

For more information or further questions, please contact the Rabbi or Hazzan in the Clergy Office.

 

Resources for Interfaith Households

Our clergy are pleased to direct you to additional resources related to your specific interests. The following is an initial list of resources which provides a good starting point.

As you will understand, although we identify these organizations as a resource for learning, information and opinions found on external web sites may not represent the views of Congregation Har Shalom or its members.

Interfaith Community – www.interfaithfamily.com

Jewish Social Service Agency – www.jssa.org

The Jewish Outreach Institute – www.joi.org

The Mothers Circle (JCC) for non-Jewish moms – www.themotherscircle.org

There are many ways that the Rabbi and the Synagogue provide support, even though the Rabbis and Hazzan cannot marry an interfaith couple. The Clergy provide counseling support for the couple as well the extended families. They help them plan for and discuss work through a variety of religious and spiritual issues. There are two reasons why Har Shalom clergy cannot conduct the wedding ceremony of an interfaith couple. The first is that the Jewish wedding creates a contractual relationship through the ketubah (contract) under Jewish law, and Jewish law can have no authority over non-Jews. The second is that while Har Shalom is supportive of the people in an interfaith marriage, it is not appropriate to give religious sanction. As expressed above, however, withholding religious sanction does not mean withholding acceptance and support.
Har Shalom, like most covenant-based religious institutions, wants to be welcoming to all who come. At the same time, Judaism, like other faiths, has certain privileges and responsibilities that are available to those who are born into, or convert into our faith. It is for this reason that only Jews are allowed to perform certain rituals and blessings, much like only Catholics can accept communion. In order to be a member of a Conservative synagogue and partake of certain rites and rituals, one must be born a Jew or convert into Judaism. For more details on these halakhic reasons, please read on.
Har Shalom, like most covenant-based religious institutions, wants to be welcoming to all who come. At the same time, Judaism, like other faiths, has certain privileges and responsibilities that are available to those who are born into, or convert into our faith. It is for this reason that only Jews are allowed to perform certain rituals and blessings, much like only Catholics can accept communion. In order to be a member of a Conservative synagogue and partake of certain rites and rituals, one must be born a Jew or convert into Judaism. For more details on these halakhic reasons, please read on.
When it comes to the participation of non-Jewish spouses or partners in Synagogue life there are three areas of limitations.

  • Committee involvement. We are happy to have non-Jewish spouses or partners actively participate in all Har Shalom committees except those with ritual and Jewish educational responsibility.
  • Participation in services. There are many opportunities for non-Jewish spouses or partners to participate in important family milestones such as baby namings and b’nai mitzvah, and they can have a reading role during Shabbat services. At the same time, there are also some halakhic constraints. In accordance with the rules of the Conservative Movement, with which Har Shalom is affiliated, a non-Jewish spouse or partner may not have Torah-related honors, nor recite blessings.
  • Voting. On occasion, congregants may vote on major Synagogue issues. This opportunity to vote on such issues is only available to the Jewish spouse or partner.
Honors are often awarded to people celebrating a life-cycle event. These events involve a core family as well as the community at large. We wish to have every member of the core family share in the joy. In these situations, such as a birth or a b’nai mitzvah, the non-Jewish family member often accompanies the Jewish family member to the Torah (following the blessings), as someone who enables this moment of joy to take place. While the Jewish family member recites the covenantal blessings, the non-Jewish family member is very much part of the occasion.  Har Shalom also creates opportunities in the service that are not strictly Jewish ritual. These may include readings, the presentation of a tallit to a child, or saying some words to the child that do not have covenantal significance.