Morristown Jewish Center

Inclusion Is Our Jewish Responsibility

Image with empty voice bubbles, each framed with rainbow colors MJCBY is committed to being an inclusive community where all are welcome and made to feel at home. Towards this end, we focus on:

  • People with Disabilities — ensuring that our facilities are as barrier-free as possible. This is the responsibility of our Facilities Committee. (need link)
  • Members of the LGBQTAI+ community ‐ ensuring that our services, programs, and members are sensitive to and respectful of gender language and affirming individuals, whatever their gender identity. This is the responsibility of the Inclusion Committee. (need link)
  • Non-Jews and Interfaith Families — many of our member families are interfaith and we take pride in welcoming them so that non-Jews feel at home here. Defining the roles of non-Jews in our services is the responsibility of the Rabbi and Ritual Committee. (need link)

People with Disabilities

(Need description of our accommodations for people with disabilities)

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LGBTQAI+

(Need description of our gender-inclusivity efforts)

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Interfaith Families

Morristown Jewish Center Beit Yisrael takes pride in welcoming all families at various stages of life. We know that synagogues can be confusing despite our efforts NOT to be so. Perhaps, you’ll find some answers to your questions below, and then you’ll feel more comfortable coming through our doors. If you don’t find the answer to your question here, feel free to reach out to (Is this correct?) Rabbi Nesson directly at ravdjn@aol.com.

FAQs

Generally, this term refers to a couple in which one member is Jewish and the other is from another faith community.  

No. At MJCBY we welcome all to join our community and participate in synagogue life. There will be no pressure on non-Jewish partners to convert.

Families find their own way to participate in synagogue life at MJCBY. There is no “cookie-cutter” model answer to this question. For some families, the non-Jewish partner is as active as, or even more active than, the Jewish partner. In some families, the non-Jewish partner stays home and chooses not to participate at all. Each family will discover what works best  for their family. Your family is welcome to participate in the way that feels right to you.  

Yes! We have several  interfaith families who are members of our congregation. While there are a few rituals that are reserved for our Jewish members, our non-Jewish members participate fully in all other areas of synagogue life. Please reach out to the rabbi for more information about specific rituals.   

If you believe that Judaism is something that can enrich your life, MJCBY is here to help you explore this venue. It is a place where you can enrich your life through study, spirituality and service to the community. It is also a place where your children  can also explore their Judaism. Most importantly, it is a place where you can meet other people who are on a similar journey.

MJCBY is a place where all members of your family can engage with the Jewish tradition in their own manner. Members at all ages and stages find something at MJCBY to meet their interests. For intermarried families looking to include Jewish traditions into their families, we have many ways to help make that happen.

If someone in your family is interested in converting, from another faith tradition or from no faith at all, should contact a rabbi directly. The first step is to engage in a period of study, lasting about a year, giving the individual the opportunity to experience an entire cycle of the Jewish calendar. Rabbis want to be sure that the individual is making an informed decision. After that year of study, the individual meets with three rabbis from a Beit Din (rabbinic court). Although this sounds intimidating, it is usually a cordial, welcoming and exciting experience. Once the rabbis determine that the individual seriously wants to be Jewish, there is an immersion in a mikvah (ritual bath). The person then receives a Hebrew name (s/he chooses it after some research) and is welcomed into the Jewish community.  

We welcome all members of the greater community to be a part of our Shalom Yeladim family.

Children from kindergarten through 3rd Grade, are welcome to participate in our school even if they are not fully Jewish according to Jewish law. From 4th grade on, a student must either be the child of a Jewish mother or a Jew-by-choice. Children who are going through the conversion process are asked to do so before the start of 3rd grade. Fourth grade is when we assign dates for bar and bat mitzvah, and a child must be Jewish to become a bar or bat mitzvah.  

We would  be thrilled to celebrate the arrival of your child with you. Even if you don’t have the ceremony here in our building, the rabbi would  be happy to help you choose a Hebrew name for your child or officiate at a baby-naming ceremony. If you need assistance finding a mohel (professional  who is trained to perform ritual circumcisions), the rabbi can help with that too.

Jewish children from an interfaith family may become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah – assuming that they go through all the education and preparation. There are two parts to a child being Jewish for Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The first is the child’s Jewish status. If a child was born to a Jewish mother or has converted to Judaism through immersion in the mikvah (ritual bath), then he/she is Jewish. [do we want gender neutral language here?] The 2nd part is that the child must decide that he/she wants to be Jewish. Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a public declaration of one’s intent to be a part of our covenant with G-d. It’s never too early to begin the conversation with the rabbi about this important lifecycle event.

At MJCBY, we  wish to include and honor the non-Jewish partners who make these moments possible. So, for baby-namings and B’nai Mitzvah, we gladly welcome non-Jewish partners up on the bimah in our sanctuary to join in appropriate parts of these sacred moments.

While Rabbi Gillman does not officiate at interfaith wedding ceremonies, Cantor Onigman might be able to do so. Please contact her to discuss this.

This question is complicated because it depends on who has passed away and how they are connected religiously in life. If the person who passed away was a part of another faith community, then the funeral should take place under the auspices of that other faith community. Of course, our community will be there to support an interfaith family during their period of mourning. Note that Jewish cemeteries have their own requirements for whether or not they will accept a non-Jewish member of the Jewish Community for burial.  

Although many people try to accomplish this, it is actually very difficult to accomplish. When children have parents from two different faith traditions, they should certainly be exposed to both. However, religions have differences and contradictions. At some point, a family needs to decide on one religion. We are always respectful of both faiths, but believe that it is simply not possible to be raised in both. So, in our congregation, we ask that you make the determination by the time a child enters 3rd grade.  

The rabbi would be happy to sit down with you and start discussing the issues. Religion and marriage are two of the most complicated things anyone will encounter in life. When you combine them, the degree of difficulty increases. So, please reach out to our clergy and start the conversation.

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