18 Ways to Welcome Interracial Families

A recent study shows that approximately 87,000 Jewish households identify as “multiracial or nonwhite”… in New York alone! What is your congregation doing to ensure that Jews of color feel welcomed into, rather than isolated from, your community? Interracial families and families of ethnic diversity should expect to be welcomed into your congregation just like any other family into your community. Here are 18 ways your congregational community can welcome and embrace interracial families.
  1. Let all families know they are welcome before they even walk in the door. Use photographs on your website to highlight the racial and ethnic diversity of your congregation.
  1. Create a series of profiles about congregants, including families of diversity. Include their photos in the profiles. Post the profiles on the temple’s website, print them in the temple bulletin and make posters to display in the temple.
  1. Add holidays to your temple’s calendar that reflect the ethnic diversity of your congregation. Consider Chinese New Year (in some Asian cultures, Lunar New Year) Martin Luther King Jr., Day, or Cinco de Mayo. Use this as an opportunity to teach about the Jews of China, the role Reform Jews played in the civil rights movement (visit the Religious Action Center for more information), and the many Sephardic communities.
  1. Through sermons and/or bulletin articles, make welcoming interracial families part of the congregation’s dialogue. Consider inviting Jews of a variety of ethnicities and races to speak to the congregation.
  1. Plan a discussion panel in which interracial families, the rabbi and perhaps a social worker can share their experiences about being Jews of color with the congregation.
  1. Jews and their families come in all colors. Tzipporah, the wife of Moses is thought to have dark skin (Numbers 12:1). Include this little-known fact when teaching about the Passover story.
  1. Add Jewish music from around the Jewish world to your worship experiences. Include the music of Sephardic, Yemenite, South American and African communities.
  1. Offer a training seminar for staff and religious school teachers to help sensitize them to the needs and experiences of interracial families. Invite racially diverse families in your congregation to help plan and lead such a seminar.
  1. Look at the pictures and posters that line the walls in your congregation and religious school. Would your child see him or herself reflected? (Find some suggested resources here.)
  1. For early childhood centers, or younger religious school grades, seek out picture books that highlight diversity in our community. (See our book list for suggestions.)
  1. Among your early childhood center and religious school supplies, be sure to stock multicultural crayons, markers and pencils that offer children a realistic palette for coloring their world.
  1. Make sure that Jewish preschool or preschool programs are publicized in the community; as part of that publicity, mention that the school or program is welcoming and supportive of interracial families, or use photographs that represent your program’s diversity.
  1. Create religious school or Confirmation curricula about Jews of other lands such as China, Africa, India and Latin America.
  1. Offer an Adult Education program about diverse Jewish communities around the world and their contributions to Jewish culture.
  1. Does your temple library have books that reflect the diversity of the Jewish people or that describe the connections and interactions between the Jewish people and other cultures? (See the attached book list for suggestions.)
  1. Include in the children’s section of your library books that reflect the diversity of the Jewish people.
  1. If the racially diverse families in your congregation are interested, offer to assist them in creating a chavurah. Determine if there would be an interest in a support group of individuals and families which include Jews of color or ethnic diversity.
  1. Visit the Union’s Outreach page for data and resources to support your congregation’s welcoming effort.

These ideas are adapted from the URJ’s brochure, “18 Ways to Welcome Interracial Families.” Download the brochure for expanded ideas and details or visit www.urj.org/outreach.

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Kate Bigam

About Kate Bigam

Kate Bigam is the URJ's Social Media and Community Manager. Prior to this, she served as a Congregational Representative for the URJ's East District and at the Religious Action Center as Press Secretary and as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Kate resides in Northeast Ohio.


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