Thursday, January 22, 2015

Naming Day and More: Birth Ceremonies for Interfaith Families

Marriage should be a joyous celebration of the combination of two individuals into a cohesive family unit. When those two individuals commit their lives to one another, they are also bringing together their two families. However, interfaith families often face a number a hurdles in selecting a ceremony that suits both sides. As if a wedding ceremony wasn't difficult enough, couples often face a secondary hurdle when a child is born into that interfaith family. Which religion will take center stage? Which religion will dictate that birth ceremony for the child? What about naming?
In this piece, couples in interfaith relationships can read about options for birth ceremonies that will satisfy both sides or offer a neutral solution that does not offend either side. Before you select a christening outfit for your child from a source such as, read these tips to select the perfect ceremony for your family.
Please Both Faiths at Once

The first option you have as parents is to select an interfaith ceremony that is not directly linked to one religion or the other, but integrates facets of each religion. In a post on the On Being Both website, parents learn about the process one interfaith community uses to welcome children of interfaith couples. Religious leaders from both religions (in this case Judaism and Christianity) develop a ceremony that includes a Bris as well as a Baptism.
Use One Ceremony at Birth and Another Later in Life

Interfaith Family points out that Jewish families can circumvent conservative and orthodox movements within the Jewish faith in a birth ceremony. Traditional Jewish teachings state that a child is not Jewish unless he or she has a Jewish mother. However, that does not mean the child could not become a member of the faith. Mohels will perform circumcisions for little boys with the understanding that immersion in a ritual bath occurs later to introduce the child to the faith.
Other mohels, usually from progressive movements within the faith, will perform a brit milah without an expectation of later rituals or steps toward conversion. In either event, interfaith parents can satisfy the desires of one side of the family in the short term, while leaving the door open to full conversion at a later point in life.
Chart Your Own Path

A unique option that is new to many congregations and families is to have the parents write a letter to the child. Rather than following any traditional naming ceremony, the parents write the child a letter about the name they have chosen. In it, the parents explain where the name came from using stories, memories, and (when applicable) qualities of a person that served as the source for a name. The parents read the story aloud to their family during the child's naming ceremony and give it to the child later in life at a Bat or Bar Mitzvah, or other important life event.
With the proper mixture of faith and creativity, you can select a birth ceremony that respects both faiths and pleases both families, while paying homage to the unique circumstances of your expanding interfaith family.

Steven Volz has three children and is a family counselor. He enjoys learning about the different family ceremonies throughout the world. Look for his enlightening articles on various websites and blogs today.

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lil_lady_dz said...

Great post to highlight couples that are in interfaith relationships and options for birth ceremonies. Picking out a christening outfit is the best part I think.

Gingi Freeman said...

Great post, thanks for sharing!

Anyhoo, I found your blog through a fellow blogger, and just wanted to stop by and say hi! It would totally make my day if you did the same.. or better yet, keep in touch! <3 -

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