Notes on an article on Interfaith Teens that I read in the Jewish Standard newspaper, March 11, 2011.
<<Felicia Sparozic gets presents for both Chanukah and Xmas. While she says, ‘I make out pretty well,” at times she wishes she could talk with other teenagers about being between two worlds.>>
This is the same sort of feeling that children like the Mendelssohns and other families that converted might have had, back in the Salon world of pre-war Germany and Austria.
On the interfaith teen discussion event:
<<Dr. Michael Goldberg: “We hope they will learn more about Judaism in this forum, and it might give them a seed to look further into their Jewish identity. But we can’t do that by lecturing to them; they have to come to that conclusion themselves.
The idea was inspired by his own experience as a teen, when at times he feared embracing Judaism might mean rejecting the Christian side of his family.
“I had grandparents in another culture and 65 cousins in another culture. You want to respect the Christian side of your family but you also want to feel comfortable in your own skin (as a Jew). It will be a forum for kids to come and discuss how they balance the two cultures." >>
<<"The evening will not be a lecture about the dangers of assimilation, but a chance to listen to teens and provide them with a forum to share feelings, as well as to give them guidance in how they can address their question s about being Jewish."
What does it mean if their family goes to church and synagogue? If they are feeling Jewish does it mean that they can’t go to their Christian family for Xmas? Do they have to minimize their experiences with the side of their loving family that is not Jewish? This is about being able to address their questions and challenges. >>
This is the kind of openness I want to encourage. My project offers stories of composers who were "between worlds," the experiences of people who had chosen a world and were told that they belonged to another; and the story of my own decision to choose Judaism.
One final quote, from an article in the NY Times, 11 October 2015: A Search for Identity Leads to Religion, by Elizabeth Weil
A 12-year-old from a home that’s less than observant asks for a bat mitzvah.
“I guess because being both feels like being neither?” she said.