As an educational "technique" I asked 40 participants in a workshop on Interfaith families to write a 3X5 card: "Why you chose to spend your day exploring the Jewish community and Interfaith families?"
New York had confessed they were a bit late to the Interfaith conversation. To respond, UJA sponsored a full day convening for professionals and lay leaders. Research was presented. A panel of moving stories of conversion, interfaith life, and on the journey was presented.
The day was filled to capacity.
In my small reflection workshop I shared that I suspect that everyone was here for professional and personal reasons. If it touches your life directly, you are quicker to stand up.
I asked about 6 folks to read their response to my question. The rest of their 3X5 cards have been for the last month at the bottom of the pink and green print tote bag I schelp to NY. I need to clean out my bag but I can't throw away their stories.
I always think of myself as a story carrier, here is what I'm carrying.
"I am here professionally, because I have been engaged in creating a logo and revising the website for our synagogue, and I have been thinking about how these public faces can be welcoming and inclusive. As a convert to Judaism, I am always sensitive personally how Jewish communities welcome and include the "ger."
"I have a personal reason for being here. One of my children married a non-Jew and I have two grandchildren. How do I support my daughter and help reinforce my grandchildren's Jewish upbringing? Professionally as an educator this is close to me."
"As president of my synagogue I would like every family to be as engaged as possible and to be able to offer high quality programs and activities to our members. Also, my daughter is in an interfaith marriage and having a baby."
"I'm a 2nd generation inter-faithless Jew and Jewish professional who is secular with a capital S. I'm hear because I want to listen."
"I'm not here to learn about trends. I am here to talk to other parents who raised Jewish children who are married to non Jews. I'm trying to be a good parent, and grandparent and really not sure how to do that."
These are the stories I'm carrying.
What story is in your bag?