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?
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 OneSmallChild.com,
read these tips to select the perfect ceremony for your family.
Please Both Faiths at Once
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
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.
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
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.
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.