Category Archives: Jewish-Interfaith

Educational activities for children and inspiration for adults, by Lauren Zinn at ZinnHouse.

How to Teach Religion Today – With Purim as an Example

photo of poster called Spring Rules!Matt, the Jewish father in an interfaith family with two young girls, shared with me this story:
His mother, the girls’ Jewish grandmother, asked if he would raise the girls Jewish. “Yes,” he said, “but it won’t look like the Jewish I was raised with, or the Jewish you, Mom, were raised with. It will look like the Jewish they will be raised with.”

Now more than ever we need models for teaching religion to today’s youth in ways that lay the foundation for a new form of religious identity in a safe, loving, and just world. And I mean World. Education is no longer a singular ethnic communal concern. Today we must consider how we fit with others on our shared planet. How are we —the grown ups in the room— supposed to do that?

Religious and secular educators need good examples of lessons that work. Continue reading How to Teach Religion Today – With Purim as an Example

The Times of Interfaith


The Times of Israel
writes about this year’s convergence of Hanukkah and Christmas. You can read their article here: Is the Jewish Community ready for a very merry interfaith Chrismukkah?

The article raises the very discussion we can imagine took place in Judea in 165 BCE. How much of “not Jewish” — whether Hellenistic culture or interfaith marriage — is too much? How much of “what is not Jewish” endangers “what is”?

These questions are loaded with assumptions — about what it means to be Jewish, about what it means to live with others — assumptions that lean heavily towards exclusivity. And it is these very assumptions that need to be questioned if Judaism is to evolve as a viable source of meaning and purpose and as a resource for wisdom in a global, world culture.

With 28 years in an interfaith marriage, most of my life has been dedicated (I choose that word intentionally) to discerning my relationship with Judaism in light of living in and raising children in a multi-faith society. I won’t go into the story of my ever-evolving struggle, one which perhaps defines my Jewishness more than anything else, but I will share what I’m doing tomorrow.

When Christmas Eve and the first night of Hanukkah, not to mention Havdalah, all coincide tomorrow evening, I will be leading a Home Service for my husband’s extended family.

While his family has religious roots in Presbyterianism and Quakerism, like many American families today they are now an ecumenical bunch. Past and current affiliations within the family include Mormonism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Judaism. My nieces and nephews include agnostics and atheists, believers and seekers, and poets.  We gather every year to attend a Christmas Eve Service at a particular Presbyterian Church. But this year that tradition has been foiled by a change in the church schedule.

The situation couldn’t have presented a better opportunity to create a service that speaks to all of us. And I am thrilled that I get to design and lead it. I won’t give it all away here but I can tell you it will be interactive, participatory, multi-sensory, religious, scientific, and philosophical. It will be meaningful and appealing for all ages. (And it will be short-ish.)

But what will make our Family Home Service successful is not the design as much as the openness with which it will be received and the joy with which it will be given. So when The Times of Israel asks if the Jewish Community is ready, I hope the idea of our Family Home Service shines some light on the answer.

Read more about turning December’s Dilemma into December’s Delight here.

December: The Most Interfaith Time of the Year

December: INTERSPIRITUAL COMMUNITY links to connect you to the global movement.The joys and challenges of interfaith life are amplified in December —the most interfaith time of the year.

This December that volume goes up as THREE MAJOR HOLIDAYS overlap.

Hanukkah,  the Jewish festival of light, begins this year on Christmas Eve (Dec 24) and ends on New Year’s Day (Jan 1).
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, & its official observance run from December 24-26.
Kwanzaa, celebrating African heritage and culture, begins Dec. 26 and ends January 1.
• Plus, December is populated with  Winter Solstice on Dec. 21, the Swedish holiday of St. Lucia, bearer of light, on Dec. 13, and in Mexico and the Americas, the Catholic Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12, and more.

The month is so loaded it’s called December Dilemma. Partners can get tied up in knots deciding what holiday to celebrate with which family group and how. So the confluence of three holidays this year could be a recipe for December Disaster. As an interfaith coach, I’ve seen the season cause conflict and anxiety but also compassion.

With December here, if you’re in an interfaith relationship, you may be feeling a little sensitive right now.

Continue reading December: The Most Interfaith Time of the Year

3 New Buzzwords Changing Religion — Buzzword #1: INTEGRAL

PREVIEW. I’m sitting on the floor, a foot from the TV, turning channels. There is no remote, no recording device. An animated figure appears on the screen. The narrator explains it will experience eight significant crises in its lifetime. Each will occur around a major developmental issue such as trust, identity, intimacy, etc., according to psychologist, Erik Erikson. I SPRINT for pen and paper. AHA! The key to my future. If I study these stages of development, I’ll be prepared for Life. I am 14. And I want to know more.

What other life maps are out there to show what lies ahead?

Erikson's stages of growth Continue reading 3 New Buzzwords Changing Religion — Buzzword #1: INTEGRAL

Listen: Becoming a New Kind of Religion Teacher

Challenges1How do we become ourselves?

(and not who our parents, principals, preachers, or presidents tell us to be?)   

The 18th century Rabbi Zusya of Anapoli, said he feared that when he died, the angels would ask not “Why weren’t you more like Moses?” but “Why weren’t you more like Zusya?”    

Contemporary Quaker educator, Parker Palmer, gives this advice:
Continue reading Listen: Becoming a New Kind of Religion Teacher

Why I’m Coming Out as a Religion Teacher Who Doesn’t Teach Religion

Photograph of 8 hands in the air with thumbs up. Behind the hair, skin, gender, status, culture, class, language, fashion, and faith, who am I?

I am my message. I am the unique world-view I’m yearning to share. But I’ve been scratching at its surface, poking around the edges, unwilling to fully embrace it. Why?  Continue reading Why I’m Coming Out as a Religion Teacher Who Doesn’t Teach Religion