South suburban spotlight
When children are born to parents of different faiths, one of the first major decisions the parents face is deciding which faith to use to raise their child. Religion is more than a mission statement and a set of rules: There is history, tradition and celebrations. And for a parent trying to raise a child with a faith different than their own, the thought of trying to pass on something so important can be overwhelming.
This is especially so for non-Jewish mothers who have chosen to raise their children in the Jewish faith, says Carrie Kaufman. "Being Jewish isn’t only about religion. It is a way of life. It is about community."
And, because it takes a community to raise a child, the Anita Stone Jewish Community Center in Flossmoor, with Kaufman’s help, will be starting a south suburban chapter of The Mothers Circle to help non-Jewish moms learn how to raise Jewish children. The Mothers Circle, a group created by the national organization Jewish Outreach Institute, combines an eight-month course on Jewish traditions with support and a safe place to talk.
"Many Jewish people believe that intermarriage is wrong," Kaufman says. "They won’t accept their child’s spouse or might have issues with that spouse. This group is a safe place for these moms ... a place where they can come, feel welcome and talk."
The Mothers Circle had its introduction meeting in January. There is still time to join. The group is free and offers free babysitting. There will be a cost for books, but Kaufman estimates that will be under $30.
The meeting time, date and place is still to be determined and will depend on the demographics of the members. Members are coming from Orland Park, Tinley Park and Lockport. "We will try and make it convenient for everyone," Kaufman says.
Kaufman says monthly meetings are only a part of the support The Mothers Circle gives. "There will be a listserv so even if you can’t make meetings you can be a part of the circle. It will be a place where you can post questions you have and get answers. We will also have Jewish family events to bring the whole family in to create a sense of community. And, after the eight-month course, alumni Mothers Circles will be formed to keep the support going."
For more information on joining the south suburban chapter of The Mothers Circle or starting a chapter in your area, contact Kaufman at the Jewish Community Center (708) 799-7650 ext. 238 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information, go to www.themotherscircle.org.