Should We Draw Attention to our Differences?

Why draw attention to differences?

In interfaith homes there can be a strong desire to focus on what is the “same” between two faiths. This focus can become extreme when the adults teach the children that there “really is no significant difference” between say, Christianity and Judaism; they share universal values. It is quite true that there are shared values and these should be pointed out. However, there are also significant distinctions. Trying to blend everything together or to brush aside glaring differences fails to see and honor diverse viewpoints and ways of life. Yes, it will take something extra effort to teach your child about the unique aspects of each of your faith traditions, but not only will it provide them with a deeper understanding of life, but it will also teach them to embrace the richness of variety. True love of diversity does not demand that everyone be diverse “just like me” or in the way that makes me feel comfortable. Embracing diversity means accepting those with whom you disagree or who don’t conform to your idea of correct.

This means finding a way to both give your child a secure identity in a tradition and teach him that this way of life, this identity, is not for everyone.

It shouldn’t be too difficult here in the bay area to see which of your child’s classmates are different from your own family. Are there devout Christians and practicing Muslims? Are there children of other races?  Is there a child who loves the violin while your child loves soccer? Are some of the kids vegetarian and others meat eaters?

Use these very obvious differences to help your child both value their own family and family’s chosen customs while accepting, and perhaps even admiring, the customs of others. Do any of the children have parents who are serving in the military?  Are any of the parents day laborers? There is so much diversity, so many people who are different from your family, that it should be easy to identify some interesting people to use as examples to your children.

But first, you must be comfortable with difference. If you’re having trouble attaining comfort with the differences between you and your partner, don’t beat yourself up. Give me a call and let’s look at where the sticking points are.

It is important that you and your partner create a true common ground and find a way to accept that people can be completely different from you and you can still love them. Your children need that foundation.



Sherith Littles Shabbat Dinner (San Francisco)
First Friday Shabbat in the Round (Oakland)
Family First Friday: Crazy Hair/Hat Shabbat (Walnut Creek)
Interfaith Mixer and Salad Bar (Pleasanton)
Counting the Omer (San Rafael)
100 Most Jewish Foods Shabbat (San Francisco)
Resistance and Democracy: The Jews of Uganda (San Francisco)



Sherith Littles Shabbat Dinner
Welcome Shabbat and share the warmth of being together for a vegetarian pizza and pasta dinner with Rabbi Samantha Kahn. For families with children ages 5 and under on the first Friday of every month.

Date:   Friday, April 5
Time:   5 pm
Place:   Sherith Israel, 2266 California St, San Francisco
Cost:    $18 per family.


First Friday Shabbat in the Round
Join Rabbi Mates-Muchin, Cantor Keys, song leader Isaac Zones, and the First Friday Players to welcome Shabbat with a new song-filled worship service celebrating the richness of Kabbalat Shabbat and the spirit of community.

Date:   Friday, April 5
Time:   6:30pm
Place:   Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland


Family First Friday: Crazy Hair/Hat Shabbat
Do your best hairdo! Dust off your top hat!
Come at 6pm for hearty snacks like angel hair pasta, followed by a Tot/Family Combo Shabbat at 6:30pm. It’s going to be super fun so bring a friend.

Date:   Friday, April 5
Time:   6pm
Place:   B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek


Interfaith Mixer and Salad Bar
Join your neighbors from the rich variety of Tri-Valley congregations and faith groups as we gather to celebrate our many blessings and our unity as people of faith. Enjoy informal conversation with people of other faiths and unaffiliated faiths in facilitated conversations over a salad bar supper.

Date:   Sunday, April 7
Time:   Doors open at 3:30 and program begins at 4:00pm
Place:   Muslim Community Center East Bay, 5724 West Las Positas Boulevard, #300 Pleasanton
Details here 


Counting the Omer
with Rabbi Elana Rosen Brown and Sylvia Boorstein
The Counting of the Omer is a period of seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot when we symbolically learn for the first time what it means to be free, with all of its requisite joys and struggles. The course will incorporate mindfulness meditation, prayer, chant, and text study.

Dates:  Consecutive Tuesday mornings from April 9 to May 23
Time:   9:30–11:30 am
Place:   Rodef Sholom, 170 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael
RSVP here.


100 Most Jewish Foods Shabbat
Celebrate Shabbat at Spark Social SF with JCCSF Pop-Ups!
This April the San Francisco JCC is taking Second Friday Shabbat series on the road to Mission Bay. We’ll celebrate in a fun community space with live music, local food trucks, a happy hour, fire pit, s’mores and more! And Alana Newhouse, Tablet Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, joins us to share stories and tastes from the hit new release The 100 Most Jewish Foods.

Date:   Friday, April 12
Time:   5:00 – 8:00 pm
Place:   Spark Social SF, 601 Mission Bay Blvd North, San Francisco
Look for the SF JCC Pop-Up!
Free • All Ages Welcome
Details here


Resistance and Democracy: The Jews of Uganda
With Rabbi Gershom Sizomu
A special presentation with Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, the first native-born black rabbi in Sub-Saharan Africa, the chief Rabbi of Uganda and the leader of the Abayudaya, a 100-year-old community of eastern Ugandan Jews.

Date:   Friday, April 12
Time:   6 pm Kabbalat Shabbat Service; 7:30 pm Community Dinner & Presentation in Newman Hall
Place:   Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., San Francisco
Cost:    Presentation is free, dinner is $36 per adult
See details here.