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Interfaith Holidays

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-Hi, everyone. I'm René Syler. You know it can be hard enough getting your kids to understand and appreciate the holiday season if both parents are the same religion, but interfaith families face different challenges this time of year and really all year round. Joining us today is Dr. Sheila Gordon, president of the Interfaith Community which is based in New York City to talk about the best way to approach the holidays if you have an interfaith family. -Hi, Sheila. How are you? -Hi, René. Very good. -It seems like we're hearing more and more about interfaith families. Are they growing or is it just that we're hearing more about them? -They're growing. It's the new norm. At least half of all families in the households are in some way interfaith have people from more than 1 religion. And if you look at your extended family, I'll bet that you got lots of different faiths all there. So even if it's not the couple themselves, we're all interfaith now. So it's a new world that we're in. -What do you primarily see? Do you primarily see Christian and Jewish families or is that-- when we think of interfaith, is that what you primarily see? -Well, you know, it used to be that if you had a Presbyterian marrying a Baptist that was considered interfaith, but I think now the biggest issue is Jews marrying Christians. -Yes. -But increasingly as there are more and more Muslims or Hindus or people from other traditions in our society, there is a growing number of marriages in different faiths as well. -What's the best way for parents to teach their children in families like these? I would imagine that respect must play a really huge role in this? -Yes. Religions are not really set up to accommodate people creating households where there are 2 different faiths. So it's a very challenging and fascinating moment. That's really why our organization exists to try to help families as they negotiate this really untraveled terrain for the couple, the family needs to start not with what they're gonna do to their poor little children, some of whom may be too young to know about it yet. -Yes. -But to really figure out what they're trying to do, what their goals are with the children, why they're trying to pass on religion, what aspect of religion, what are the issues behind it. -One of the things that you have shown us is really cool. As you take this calendar, you put the little icons at the start of the various holidays. Explain this a little bit. -The December holidays always put a lot of people, at least Jewish-Christian couples into a frenzy because oh with the December dilemma are they gonna have a tree or not, whatever. -The December dilemma. -That's right, that's right. And what we would argue is that, you know, it's a great time to start thinking about this, but it's something you have to do all year long. So in the schools that we run and we run schools in 7 different locations and one of the things we try to do is show the kids and show yourselves that holidays don't just happen like plunk. They happen throughout the year. There are times to pause. So here you take a little blank calendar like this for December and here's a little Menorah on the first day of Hanukkah and here's a little Nativity scene on Christmas. Now for a small child, that can be fun. You can go through the whole calendar with your child and they can draw pictures. You can do cut-outs, whatever. -Yes because as we said this is not just December. This is something that is year round. -Is all year round. -And one of the things talking about the December dilemma you say that does not work is to mush Christmas and Hanukkah together. -Well, yes. That's right. Absolutely. I mean you should have fun as a family. You should make the holidays your own as your family, but ultimately they're pretty serious and distinctive kinds of things. -What a great gift though the gift of education and a wonderful opportunity to learn about different religions and they respect each other. Thank you so much, Dr. Gordon. I really appreciate it. -Thank you. -For more information about interfaith families, you can go to interfaithcommunity.org.