December 13, 2018

New Group Forms for Non-Jewish Mothers Raising Jewish Children

Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills is recruiting participants for the Los Angeles area’s first Mothers’ Circle, a group for non-Jewish mothers who are raising their children Jewish. Set to begin mid-November and funded by The Jewish Federation Valley Alliance, the 16-session course includes information for mothers on Jewish lifecycle events and celebrating Jewish holidays. The group also provides access to local rabbis for one-on-one dialogues and a forum in which mothers can discuss issues and get answers to questions that “just aren’t comfortably asked with Jews in the room,” according to Temple Aliyah’s program director Lori Marx-Rubiner.

In addition to fostering local connections, the group also gives members access to a national listserv where they can reach thousands of other mothers who have common concerns. 

The program started in 2002 in Atlanta, Ga., through the Jewish Outreach Institute and has now grown to more than 30 communities. The only requirements for joining are that the mother must not be Jewish (which precludes those who have converted) and that they must be raising their children Jewish. With the exception of a possible fee for the required book, the course is free of charge, including childcare if requested.

Temple Aliyah got involved with the project after deciding between this and a Grandparents’ Circle. Rubiner said, “Rabbi [Stewart] Vogel and I both felt that [these] moms, who were giving up, in some measure, their religious identity and handing it over to their children in favor of giving their children a Jewish upbringing, were in great need of support and absolutely deserving of it.” Membership in Temple Aliyah is not a requirement for joining the group.

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