Faith and Family: A New USCJ Initiative for Families with Young Children


When you establish a home and start a family, there are so many decisions to face. Do you want to live in the city or the suburbs? House or apartment? Urban farmhouse décor or shabby chic? What about your child-rearing style? Are you into attachment parenting or the free-range variety? Of course, there are real estate websites and parenting blogs that can help with all of these choices. But where can a young family find guidance for the spiritual, emotional and ethical decisions they have to make as they figure out how to create a Jewish home?

USCJ’s new initiative, Faith and Family, is a resource that synagogues can use to support parents of young children as they face the choices and challenges of raising a Jewish family. Faith and Family will engage couples and individuals raising Jewish children in a series of dynamic learning experiences that will help them address complex questions and incorporate Jewish beliefs and practices into their family lives. Each synagogue implementing Faith and Family will hold five learning sessions that will engage participants in a multidisciplinary exploration of Jewish concepts. Each session will include text study, discussion, reflection on a brief prayer or blessing, and a hands-on learning experience like baking challah or creating a piece of Jewish artwork.

Faith and Family is designed for parents who are seeking to balance the different parts of their personal and family identities in a meaningful way – couples that are mixed-faith, couples in which one or more partners has converted to Judaism, and couples or single parents that were born Jewish but are searching for a more substantial connection to their Jewish backgrounds. The Faith and Family curriculum offers a framework within which all of these individuals can explore Jewish values and traditions within a community of their peers while strengthening their relationship to a synagogue community.

Faith and Family approaches Judaism from a parenting angle, empowering participants to leverage Jewish values and rituals as they face the challenges of raising children in a complex world. Through the Faith and Family curriculum, parents will have the opportunity to address “big-picture” questions about living as Jewish family in the 21st century:

  • How do you manage holiday and life-cycle celebrations when extended family members practice different religions, or practice Judaism in different ways?
  • What boundaries do you create for your children in terms of how your family observes and experiences Judaism? How do you create a home environment that honors Jewish values?
  • How do you talk to your kids about God when you are not sure what you believe? What does it mean to live a life informed by spirituality?
  • How can the daily rituals and rhythms of Judaism help your family deal with the demands of its busy schedule?
  • What happens when Jewish values and teachings conflict with the values espoused by pop culture and by American society? How can you use Jewish values to make parenting decisions and to help your kids make good choices?

By creating opportunities for honest, open discussion about Judaism and parenthood, Faith and Family aims to help families find a place for Judaism in their lives, and a place for themselves within the Jewish community.

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