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February 10, 1995 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-02-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

FINAL WINTER
CLEARANCE SALE

Expert Addresses
Intermarriage Concerns

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ebrew school teachers
packed a Temple Emanu-
El classroom Sunday af-
ternoon to hear Lena
Romanoff speak on a topic of
growing importance to the local
education community, reaching
out to children of interfaith cou-
ples.
As the intermarriage rate for
Jews has grown to over 50 per-
cent, the teachers are seeing
more of the products of these
marriages, said Lila Zorn, a
teacher for 35 years at Adat
Shalom Synagogue.
"It is absolutely an issue. It is
getting more and more common,
for example, to see a child come
to Hebrew school every other
week because they are going to
church Sunday school the other
weeks," said Ms. Zorn. "And (in-
termarriage) is not going to go
away."
Ms. Romanoff, the founder and
director of the Jewish Converts
& Interfaith Network in Penn-
sylvania, was a participant in the
second set of Erev Limud work-
shops. The workshops are part of
Nirim, a professional enrichment

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18

Ms. Romanoff
offered practical
solutions to daily
dilemmas.

PHOTO BY EL LEN KRIVCHENIA

IT DOESN'T HAVE TO COST A FORTUNE...ONLY LOOK LIKE IT!

Using different scenarios, Ms.
Romanoff taught the teachers
how to handle situations that
arise in an interfaith situation,
such as when a child of an inter-
faith marriage expresses confu-
sion over having two religions in
his home.
"The child is telling you what
is going on at home. It is not your
position to pass judgment on that
child," she said. "Your job is to lis-
ten."
Another scenario she used was
non-Jewish grandparents at-
tending a Hebrew-school event
for their Jewish grandchild.
"Imagine how they feel. Hit is
a small community, all of the
Jewish parents and grandpar-
ents will know each other. You
don't want to leave them in a cor-

program for Hebrew-school
teachers that is offered through
the Agency for Jewish Education.
Ms. Romanoff talked in part
about the results of a national
study that she has conducted
with 2,000 intermarried couples
and 1,500 children of the mar-
riages.
She said the children were be-
ing raised with both religions, one
religion or no religion.
"Statistically, children who are
raised in a one-faith household
do best and children who are
raised with nothing feel like noth-
ing," she said.
The rest of her lecture dealt
with practical solutions to situa-
tions teachers have seen more in
their classrooms — children
whose parents are raising them
with both Christianity and Ju-
daism, parents who have reli-
gious custody of the children after
a divorce, the involvement of non-
Jewish grandparents with their
Jewish grandchildren.
"You as teachers make a dif-
ference. I wouldn't be here if you
didn't," Ms. Romanoff told the
teachers.

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Lena Romanoff with her interfaith doll, Rachel Christine.

ner," Ms. Romanoff said. "All you
need to do is be warm and wel-
coming. They are scared to be
there but they have come for their
grandchild."
She also warned teachers not
to pass judgment on a non-Jew-
ish spouse. Conversion, she said,
is not always an option and at
times can be destructive. A non-
Jewish parent who has commit-
ted to raising his or her children
as Jews has made a big commit-
ment and may at times need sup-
port.
"You give up a lot when you
are going to church and you are
going alone," she said. "That par-
ent is going to feel left out."
The two-hour presentation
ended with a half-hour video il-
lustrating the unique trials of a
family of intermarriage.
"(Ms. Romanoff) was excel-
lent," said Marta Gottesman, re-
source coordinator for Temple
Emanu-El. "The teacher's job is
to make the child feel more com-
fortable and that is what she ad-
dresses."
Teachers also had the option
of attending three other work-
shops. Using puppets to illusti ate
Bible stories, enhancing Hebrew
fluency and weaving Jewish sto-
ries and music into classroom ac-
tivities were the subjects of the
other classes.
Approximately 50 teachers at-
tended the gathering. D

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