Reflections on an Interfaith Upbringing

I had a unique upbringing for a few reasons, one of those reasons being that I was raised in an interfaith home, or rather two homes between my divorced parents. My mom is Jewish while my dad is Mormon, an uncommon mix. According to an article by The New York Jewish Week, the rate of intermarriage among non-Orthodox Jews continues to rise, and so do the amount of Jewish children. Stuart Silver, a vice president at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, said the fact that 66 percent of intermarried parents are raising their children Jewish is “really exciting news and gives us reason to believe we can engage those families.”

Reflecting back on my upbringing, my parents took a very hands-off approach to my engagement with religion and left everything up to my choice. As a result, I remained relatively distant from both religions throughout my childhood and adolescence. However, I am so thankful to have found UF Hillel in college after so many years of little to no engagement with my religion and spirituality. UF Hillel has given me so many positive memories since I started volunteering/interning here over 3 years ago. For example, I have made many friends at Shabbat, as an intern and at High Holiday events. A National Jewish Population Survey conducted in 1990 found that only 25 percent of intermarried couples were raising their children to be Jewish. Ten years later, that figure rose to one-third. This rise is attributed to “a lot of Jewish programming” for children from an interfaith household. Previously, it was understood that the rise of interfaith marriages would be bad for the Jewish people, however recent trends tell a different story. My personal story is a testament to that.

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