Interfaith and Dual Heritage Families Are Welcome at Congregation Neveh Shalom

CNS is a vibrant, engaging, welcoming congregation that invites members of all backgrounds to participate in our community.  We are proud of the diversity of our congregation, sensitive to the different backgrounds of individuals and families who join our community and committed to creating meaningful, connected experiences for all of our community’s participants.

Approximately 10% of the families in our congregation are interfaith and dual heritage families.  Non-Jewish family members, whether partner, spouse, children, grandchildren, or in-laws, participate in many aspects of our community.  Find the stories of two families below—these two families have offered to be resources to other interfaith and dual heritage families interested in finding out more about CNS as a community.  Every family has their own story—we look forward to hearing yours!

Our Family’s Story

Dave Knudsen, Jenn Director-Knudsen, Alyssa and Hayley

Our family has been interfaith since our marriage in 1996, and we’ve been a Neveh Shalom family since 2006. In some Jewish circles, we know that interfaith families feel compelled to keep their identity a secret. Neveh Shalom provides one of the largest Jewish circles in greater Portland (and beyond). Here, we don’t — nor feel compelled to — keep our Jewish-Christian household a private matter. Our teens are engaged in the ALIYAH Tichon (Hebrew High School) program, where questions about and issues facing interfaith families often are discussed. As are the issues synagogues face because they welcome families like ours. Our two daughters became a bat mitzvah here, and Dave participated in both services (both times caught smiling continuously like a very proud Cheshire Cat). Like families themselves, institutions evolve, and Neveh Shalom continues to do so. Neveh Shalom is our Jewish home and one that — like our own — welcomes families who share and take part in more than one faith. Please feel free to reach out to us.

Worship with Us

Weekday, Shabbat, and holiday services are open to members of all faiths and we welcome you to join us anytime. If you are less familiar with the service, ask a greeter to seat you near an ambassador during our service, or for a transliterated copy of the siddur.

Celebrate with Us

As a couple affiliated with CNS, we welcome you to mark lifecycle events like baby namings, b’nai mitzvah and more here in our community. Individuals not of the Jewish faith can participate in these ceremonies in various ways. Our clergy is always available to discuss options for celebrating together.

Our Family’s Story

Leif, Ariella and Moses Goranson

From the first day we met Leah Conley, the Director of Early Childhood Education at Neveh Shalom, and toured the preschool, we have felt welcomed as part of the strong and growing community that has been fostered at Foundation School and Neveh Shalom. As someone who did not grow up Jewish, I enjoy learning about Jewish holidays, traditions and songs with my son. I also appreciate that the curriculum is well-rounded and teaches young children the basic skills and concepts needed to succeed in any advanced school setting. It is a testament to the inclusive environment that has been established by the morot (teachers) and the community that not once have I ever felt out of place as a non-Jewish parent. Please feel free to reach out to us.

Learn with Us

One need not be Jewish to take advantage of the many diverse cultural and educational opportunities offered by our synagogue, and everyone is welcome to attend our many, varied programs and classes. We also welcome the opportunity to help provide your child with a Jewish education and would be happy to meet with you to discuss our excellent educational opportunities for all ages.  Contact Leah Conley for Foundation School and Early Childhood, or Mel Berwin for ALIYAH K-12 Jewish learning programs and Adult Education.

Lean on Us in Difficult Times

In the event that a non-Jewish spouse affiliated with our congregation loses a loved one, our clergy is always available for comfort and support. Judaism offers much in the way of mourning practices and many Jewish traditions are universal in their ability to provide solace at a time of loss.

Let Us Get to Know You

Contact our interfaith ambassador families or our staff or clergy at any time. We look forward to getting to know you.

Ways to Plug in

Ritual Committee

Rabbi Kosak and the Ritual Committee have been meeting this year with interfaith and dual heritage families to discuss concerns, questions, and directions of participation. Contact Rabbi Kosak for more information.

Mothers’ Circle

Not raised Jewish but committed to raising children with Jewish traditions? Mothers’ Circle is a FREE educational program in which mothers (or mothers-to-be) explore Jewish practices, ethics, explore the “how-tos” and meaning behind raising a Jewish child. Learn more here or email

Dad’s Night Out

Are you a Dad raising Jewish children? Dad’s Night Out is a community-wide program planned by a group of guys who like having a reason to head out, get to know other dads, and have a drink with the rabbi. It is open to dads of any faith raising Jewish kids, at any stage of parenting. Suggested donation of $5. Beverages and snacks provided. Join us! For more information, please contact Lisa Richmond.

Keruv Resources

Click Here for Keruv resources and information for interfaith and dual heritage families provided by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism/The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs.

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