Building Our Interfaith Family: Navigating Cultures, Religions, and Community with IFFP

Makar Family at an IFFP Gathering

My husband, Basem, and I come from 2 different religions (Judaism and Christianity) and 2 different cultures (American and Egyptian).  Our individual families were each primarily knowledgeable and involved in their own cultures. When we decided to get married, we wanted to combine the most important and meaningful parts of our respective religions and cultures into our wedding.  We lived in Philadelphia at the time and did not know about IFFP at the time.  We felt alone and the pressure of creating such an ‘interfaith’ wedding.  We did all of the research ourselves, and essentially created our ceremony on our own.  In the end, it turned out to be a really nice and meaningful ceremony, but it was a lot of work. 

When we moved to Maryland, through our usual research, we discovered IFFP.  It was so refreshing to find a community of families in the same situation as us.  As a couple, we had decided that we would continue with both of our religions and cultures. Now, with IFFP, the way of doing this was already established.  As we thought about having and raising kids, we felt strongly that being part of a regular, organized religion with Sunday School would be important.  IFFP provided a way to teach our children about both of our religions. We would not have to ignore or favor one by only going to church or to synagogue. 

Rachel Makar and her sons.

Now, our 11 year old and 15 year old boys have been attending IFFP gatherings and Sunday School throughout their entire lives.  It is OUR interfaith community. It has become part of our regular, family routine to go to Gatherings and Sunday School every Sunday.  They have learned about both of our religions from what we discuss and experience as a family and also from IFFP.  They appear to have a very clear understanding of what their religion/ culture is: Interfaith (Jewish and Christian).  This makes Basem and I feel very comfortable: that our kids know who they are and where they come from. 

Rachel Makar teaches Sunday School

I have also been an IFFP Sunday School Preschool and Kindergarten teacher for many years.  It has been a rewarding experience.  It is fun to watch the youngest members of our IFFP community be excited about learning about their religion and culture. Through play, reading stories, music, and crafts, IFFP has created a way to imbed learning about our 2 religions – even in our young children. It warms my heart to see my students run eagerly into class to see us and to see them show off to their parents their completed crafts and explain how it related to our lesson of the day.  

In short, I am so grateful to have found IFFP.  It has become my family’s interfaith community. It has provided a consistent, reliable, and safe environment for my children to learn about their interfaith religion and culture. It has also given me an avenue to give back to my interfaith community – to help start the learning process for our youngest interfaith children. 



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