Jews Talk About their Multiracial Families

Parents, siblings, aunts and cousins may be white but when their family includes racially diverse members they too are impacted by racial assumptions in the Jewish community. What do white family members have to share with us about how we can be more tuned in to their family? Join us for a dynamic and exciting panel; the this year’s opening program for What Color Are Jews?

Date: Sunday, Nov. 11
Time: 10am to 11:45am
Place: Temple Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland
Free to Temple Beth Abraham members; $5 to non-members

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Don’t let anyone tell you that being in a family is always easy! But when you add more than one religion or culture there can be confusion and upsets that you couldn’t anticipate. Family gatherings, holidays, lifecycle events all take on a new color. How can you navigate your role as child, spouse, parent or grandparent in a loving and respectful way? How can you be yourself and create warm family circle? Join Dawn Kepler to discuss the challenges and the solutions in an intercultural (yes, Judaism IS a culture as well as a religion) family.

Date: April 24
Time: 7 to 8:30pm
Place: Temple Beth Torah, 42000 Paseo Padre Parkway Fremont
Cost: $12
For information contact Andrea Fleekop, Director of Education, or (510) 656-7141

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When your child marries someone not Jewish you may adore your new daughter/son-in-law but still worry about how you should be interacting with them as a Jew. You may worry, will my grandchildren be raised Jewish? Will I say the wrong thing if I express my feelings? Or you may feel they are ‘overdoing’ the Jewish stuff. What about the other set of grandparents? What do you have in common with them? Perhaps you want to do Jewish activities with the grandchildren but don’t want to over step your children’s boundaries. Join other parents and grandparents to explore how to be TERRIFIC grandparents to your intermarried child and their family.

Date: Friday, October. 21, 2011
This talk will follow the 6:30pm Shabbat Service at Temple Isaiah, 3800 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette during dinner.
You can sign up for the dinner here.

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Grandfather at play

Last week I talked about the things we will do for our children – essentially the power that our love for our children will teach us to do. On the other side of our lives are our parents. Parents too do more teaching than simply the words they speak – do your homework, don’t tease your sister, stand up straight, tell the truth, be respectful of your teachers. Parents demonstrate love, sacrifice, devotion. In doing so, we see how to be better people. We love and respect them; we hope to emulate them. In a healthy parent – adult child relationship each person understands the limits. The adult child must make their own decisions about child-rearing, religious observance, family balance. But after these decisions are made, and hopefully respected, we can have compassion for our parents sense of loss when our choices are not theirs. The grandchild who will not be raised in the same religion as the grandparent, the child who chooses to convert from their birth faith, the family that no longer spends certain holidays with the grandparents – these are painful and unexpected losses for our parents.

What can we do?
Remember to express love and respect.
“Mom, my love for you will never fade.”
“Dad, I hope to be as good a dad as you have been to me.”

Affirm what is good, sincere, decent, and honorable about your parents. Point out the things that they taught you and tell them how you value those things.

“Grandma, I really and truly learned to stop and smell the roses from you. Remember when we walked past that big climbing rosebush in front of the hardware store and you said, smell this! I learned to value every bit of nature from you.”

Let them know that you carry a part of them in you. Give them a hug, a kiss, a handwritten card. All these can ease a parent’s fear that they are losing you. In years to come you will be glad you took a moment to express your love.

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Your child has married someone not Jewish. You love their new spouse but you worry. Will my grandchildren be Jewish? Will I say the wrong thing if I express my concerns and feelings? Should we invite the non-Jewish in-laws to Jewish celebrations at our home? Can we do Jewish activities with the grandchildren without over stepping our children’s boundaries? Which holidays will they celebrate and how? Join other parents and grandparents to explore how to be TERRIFIC grandparents to your intermarried child and their family.


Monday, Feb. 22


In a cozy Oakland home

Free to members of Temple Sinai; $7 for non-members.

Call Dawn if you have any questions.


I was asked if non-Jewish grandparents could attend.  YES!  I had a lovely Zoroastrian couple who shared their thoughts and heritage with the group.

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A number of parent/grandparent groups have developed in the bay area.  These groups are for individuals and couples whose children have married non-Jewish partners.  That is YOUR parents. 

Our parents may feel guilty – “I should have done more Jewish things at home; sent the kids to Jewish summer camp, etc. and then my child would have married a Jew.”  Or, “I love my new son or daughter in law, but I didn’t realize I would be upset that they aren’t Jewish.  Am I a bad father/mother in law?”  They wonder about how to act with the other in-laws, “Should I invite them to seder?”

When children (grandchildren) arrive the picture gets more complicated.  They want to know, “Are you raising the kids Jewish?”  “I’ll pay for Hebrew school, why won’t you take the money?”  “Are the other grandparents taking them to church?”

These questions arise out of love for you.  But they can be hard on you, the couple.  Suggest that your parents join others in the same life experience to discuss positive choices for themselves and their family.

I am always happy to talk to parents too if they want to discuss whether the group is for them or if they want to talk privately before going to a group.  I had one set of in-laws (the non-Jewish, Asian parents) who just did not believe in speaking publicly about any family concern.  Be sensitive to your parents.  You may understand them better than they understand themselves.  And remember that your children, will be the same way with you.  Role model the love of parents that you hope to instill in your children.  Respect their differences and send them information on the groups so they can do the same for you.


Grandparents’ Circle
Are you a grandparent whose grandchildren are being raised in an interfaith family? Do you wonder how you can cultivate your grandchild’s Jewish identity while respecting your adult child’s choices?
Join us for an education and support program for Jewish grandparents whose adult children have intermarried. This five session course, taught by Beth Am member Louise Stirpe-Gill, offers grandparents the skills and techniques to nurture their grandchildren’s Jewish identities while sharing Judaism in a fun way with their adult children and grandchildren.

Dates: March 21, April 4, 18, May 2 and 16
Time: 3:00 – 5:00 pm
Place: Congregation Beth Am, Conference Room, Upper Campus.
Free and open to the community
Please RSVP by March 15th to secure a space. We’ll send you the details. Contact Pam Lerner at or  650-625-8725 

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