Growing up interfaith can be challenging. Children and teenagers are made to question their religious identity from an early age, and eventually make a choice, even if that means staying interfaith. Religious identity, like any other, remains in flux throughout one’s life. Nevertheless, hearing older teenagers (around 16 or 17 years old) explain their journey thusfar provides a profound insight into how interfaith children grow up. Each have a different story to tell. Meet Sam, Zoe and Daniel…
At 12 years old, Samuel Oliver asked his Jewish-Christian parents why he wasn’t getting a Bar Mitzvah or a confirmation. In response, his parents began attending the Interfaith Community’s celebrations such as the annual Christmas/Hanukkah event. Sam was happy to find a community of people who, like him, identified as interfaith. He eventually grew out of his desire of a religious rite of passage as religion became less important in his life. “My own religious growth is a circuitous process,” said Lee Gruzen, author of “Raising Your Jewish/Christian Child.” “I’m calm and assured that what my children are building their decision on, they’ve got a grounding in both. They have an affectionate, trusting, loving wrap around them. So I think the clergy is wrong when they put their thumb on it.”
Zoe Wolfe was raised interfaith from the beginning and took classes at the Interfaith Community from eight to 12 years old. Her father was raised Catholic. Though he never attended synagogue, his Jewish step-father had a strong influence in his religious education. Today, Zoe considers herself interfaith.
Daniel Froot is one of the few kids at the organization who have chosen one religion. At 12 years old, after four years of attending the organization’s interfaith classes, Daniel chose to be Bar Mitzvah-ed. “It’s about tradition, that’s a rite of passage,” said Daniel. “My father did it, and his father did it, and his father did it, and so on and so forth.”
To learn more about this project and the journalists who worked on it, click here.