Interfaith Families at Or Ami
Are you looking for a synagogue where your interfaith family will feel welcome and comfortable? If so, Or Ami is the perfect synagogue for you!
The majority of our families are interfaith, so you will be able to meet and make friends with people from a similar background.
Non-Jewish family members are welcome to participate in all events and hold positions of leadership on our synagogue committees and board. At the same time, we recognize and respect that there may be some Jewish rituals in which a non-Jewish person may not wish to participate for whatever reason. We leave these decisions up to the individual to decide what they are comfortable doing in our synagogue. Everyone is welcome to be who they are at Or Ami.
Part of our children’s Religious School curriculum is specifically designed to foster understanding and respect for other religious and cultural traditions. Our eighth grade students spend an entire year learning about different religious communities and visiting local churches, mosques, and temples as part of their learning experience. This program’s most popular field trips tend to be to an African American church and a Hindu temple. Let us know if you are interested in being a parent chaperone.
Adults are also invited to participate in our annual Interfaith Trialogue event, co-hosted by the Islamic Center of Virginia and numerous churches in the Bon Air/Southside area of Richmond. Over a hundred people (mostly adults, but also some teens and younger children) come together to share food and learn about other people and religious traditions in our community. This three-part series generally takes place in April or May and focuses on a different topic each year. Past topics have included: religious extremism, how to love your neighbor, and finding hope in challenging times. We invite you to attend the Trialogue this spring.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can my non-Jewish partner and I get married at Or Ami?
A: Our rabbi is available for premarital counseling and wedding preparations and may officiate at weddings or offer wedding blessings when one member of the couple is not Jewish, depending on her availability and on the circumstances of each family. During your meeting with the rabbi, you can discuss in more detail how to create a ceremony which reflects your unique marriage and family backgrounds.
Q. Will my children be considered Jewish?
A. According to Reform Judaism, as long as a child has at least one Jewish parent (no matter the parent’s gender) and is raised as a Jew, then your child will be considered Jewish.
Q. Can I be buried near my loved ones?
A. Our cemetery routinely buries Jewish and non-Jewish partners next to each other as a matter of principle. Our rabbi is here to give comfort and support to you and your family. This includes counseling and conducting funeral services that are respectful of a loved one’s spiritual beliefs and practices.
Q: As a non-Jew, would I ever be pressured to convert to Judaism?
A: We value and respect every individual for who they are and where they are in life. We will never pressure you to convert to Judaism. If, however, you are interested in pursuing a journey toward conversion, our Rabbi is always here to serve as your guide. She teaches a wonderful Introduction to Judaism class, which is great for anyone who wants to learn more about Judaism in general.
Q: Are there specific prayers or rituals that only Jews should do at a prayer service?
A. There are a few blessings we recite in services which talk about being religiously obligated as a Jew to perform certain actions. These prayers include the blessing for lighting Shabbat candles and the aliyah blessing over the Torah. Due to the traditional wording of these prayers, we require that a Jewish person be the one to lead these Hebrew blessings. However, interfaith family members are invited to come up along with the Jewish family member and offer corresponding English readings so that everyone plays an equally important role in our services.