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Intermarriage: A threat to Jewish continuity? Or an opportunity?

May 1, 2015

TORONTO, May 1, 2015

WHAT: An interactive presentation that challenges the standard Jewish communal narrative on intermarriage and instead presents an optimistic and inclusive vision for the future of Jewish families and Jewish life. Presented by Oraynu Congregation for Humanistic Judaism (Oraynu)

WHEN: Monday, May 4, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: University of Toronto Multifaith Centre in Koffler House, 569 Spadina Avenue, Toronto

Paul Golin, Executive Director, Big Tent Judaism/Jewish Outreach Institute (New York)
Michele Landsberg, noted author, journalist and social activist, Officer of the Order of Canada
Terri Hawkes, Canadian actress, director, writer
Rabbi Denise Handlarski, Assistant Rabbi, Oraynu
Steve Shabbes, Principal, Oraynu Children's School

Today, most Jews in the US and Canada are personally touched by intermarriage within their immediate families. According to the Canadian 2011 National Household Survey, within the Jewish population of 392,000, 26% of Jewish spouses/partners were married to, or partnered with, non-Jews. This represents a 59% increase in 20 years. Many people fear this trend will result in the demise of Judaism.

Paul Golin, however, believes the key is to embrace the intermarried. "The way we positively engage people in Jewish life, and particularly the intermarried and their children, will determine whether the Jewish communities in the US and Canada remain vibrant or contract over the coming decades. Interfaith households are the fastest-growing segment of our population, and they represent a wonderful opportunity for us to share what we think is so great about Jewish culture, community, and spirituality with our friends and family members who are not Jewish."

Paul Golin is Associate Executive Director of Big Tent Judaism/Jewish Outreach Institute (New York), a national, independent organization reaching out to unaffiliated Jewish families with an emphasis on engaging intermarried households and helping the organized Jewish community better welcome them in. He consults with synagogues and other Jewish organizations and is a frequent writer and speaker on Jewish inclusion. He co-authored two books with Rabbi Kerry Olitzky, How to Raise Jewish Children Even When You're Not Jewish Yourself (2010) and Twenty Things for Grandparents of Interfaith Grandchildren To Do (And Not Do) To Nurture Jewish Identity In Their Grandchildren (2007).

Founded in 1969, Oraynu Congregation for Humanistic Judaism is part of a global movement of Humanistic Jews. The first Humanistic congregation in Toronto, Oraynu is led by Rabbis trained by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism. It provides a community where secular and cultural Jews and their families can feel comfortable, and welcomes all who are connected to the Jewish people by birth, conversion or family relationships and who share its values. Oraynu embraces young and old, singles, couples, families, intermarried and LGBTQ couples and families, and anyone looking to connect to a community, programs and children's Sunday school that stimulate the intellect, inspire the heart and foster a sense of social engagement.

For more information contact:

Gail Aiken
Phone: 416-467-4789

Sandi Horwitz

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