Interfaith Families Tell Their Stories

At the start of fall, Rabbi Debbie and Reverend Sam introduced the theme for the year: “Our Living Stories.” This theme was the inspiration for an IFFP storytelling event entitled: Real Life Stories from Interfaith Families, held on April 28th at Busboys and Poets: Takoma Park. The sold-out evening celebrated the power of stories and community. We are grateful to everyone who participated, supported and attended. Below are some meaningful takeaways from the event, as well as video recordings of the phenomenal stories that were shared.

Erika is a “yes” person. When you ask her to do something for IFFP, she almost always says yes. When we asked her to participate in this project, she said yes before even knowing the details of what being a storyteller would entail. And we are so lucky that she did. Erika and her family (her husband Bernardo, and their teenage children, Elliot and Elena) have been members of IFFP since 2008.

At IFFP, you might see Illissa holding her two beautiful daughters, or selling some of her one-of-a-kind crafts at the IFFP Craft Fair.  What you might not know is that she also knows how to weave incredible stories. Ilissa and her family (husband Greg and their two young daughters, Leia and Sadie) have been members of IFFP since 2019.

Lis is an exceptional listener. We hear musically and joyfully from her family members on a regular basis, and she is often in the front row cheering them on. Now as a storyteller, we are excited that she is up front, and that we get the chance to cheer her on. Lis and her family (her husband Eric, and their sons, Leo and Julian) have been members of IFFP since 2007.

Dave shares his tenor singing voice with us at many IFFP Gatherings. Recently, at our Easter Gathering he did an IFFP first – masterfully harmonizing with the rich sound of gardening equipment.  But at this event, we are excited to hear his beautiful storytelling voice. Dave and his family (his wife Kristy Tillman, and their sons, Sam and Nate) have been members of IFFP since 2012.

Danny is like an onion:  you peel back that sometimes quiet exterior and you get a gifted musician, a radio host, a natural comedian, a fun and loyal community member, and now, lucky for us, a storyteller! Danny and his family (his wife Rebecca Weiss, and their adult children, Rael and Elia) have been members of IFFP since 2003.

If you have been at IFFP for a while, chances are Fredie has taught you something – whether it’s in a blog post, a Sunday School class, or on a tour through the Holocaust Museum. She never stops opening us up to new things and as a storyteller, she is opening her heart to us. Fredie and her family (her husband Mark Gulezian, and their adult children, Jacob and Amye) have been members of IFFP since 1999.

Ryan has served IFFP both behind and in front of the scenes, perhaps most visibly as a musical leader and teacher of Jewish and Christian song. He also has some fierce computer skills that were helpful for some of the logistics for this event.  It’s a joy to have him front and center as a storyteller. Ryan and his family (his wife Veronica, and their teenage children, Eliana and Gabriel) have been members of IFFP since 2009.

As many of us know, IFFP would not exist without Irene (just imagine where in the world we would be today without her). We know a bit about her story as one of our four founding mothers of IFFP, but at this event, she agreed to share the full story with us all. Irene and her late husband Ron helped to start IFFP in 1995. They have two adult children, Ezra Jane and Patrick.

1.  IFFP members are creative.  And perhaps that’s not a coincidence; as interfaith families, we’ve had to get creative about how to meaningfully engage with more than one tradition.

2. IFFP members show up for each other.  About ninety people attended the storytelling event at Busboys and Poets and many friends who hadn’t seen each other in years got to hug and reconnect.

3.  IFFP has a history–a proud and (increasingly) long one that started in 1995 with our four founding mothers.

4. IFFP is always growing and changing.  We were so thrilled to welcome many of our newest members to this event.  

5. IFFP is powered by love.  Many of the stories shared were love stories of one kind or another.  Many chronicled how love for a partner, a parent, or children brought a family together despite or sometimes because of their difference.

6. Listening together builds community.  Through this process, our eight curators and eight storytellers all got to know each other in ways that wouldn’t have otherwise happened. 

7. Everyone has a story to tell.  Even reluctant storytellers have powerful stories to develop and share.  

8. This is just the beginning!  If you missed this event, we will be doing an abbreviated hybrid version during Adult Group on Sunday, June 2nd at 11:00am ET. In addition, we would love to have an event like this again soon. Let us know if you’d like to participate!


Curators: Fredie Adelman – Heidi Anderson – Jill Bernstein – Joana Carneiro Da Silva – Samantha Gonzalez-Block – Jodi Kanter – Doug Lynott – John Mills – Harrison Wein

Directed and Hosted by: Reverend Samantha Gonzalez-Block and Jodi Kanter

Musician: Julian Maring

Event Coordination: Rev. Samantha Gonzalez-Block, Jodi Kanter, Miranda Hovemeyer

Program and Advertising: Miranda Hovemeyer

Venue Coordinator: Jodi Kanter

Curating Coordinator: Rev. Samantha Gonzalez-Block

Audio Recording: Marika Partridge

Video Recording: John Mills

Video Editor: Miranda Hovemeyer

Assistant Editors: Rev. Samantha Gonzalez-Block and Rabbi Debbie Reichmann

Additional support: Rabbi Debbie Reichmann – The IFFP Board of Directors and Staff – Heather Brown – Susan Katz Miller – Matthew Hoffman – Susan Priester – Will Priester – Nell Rumbaugh 

IFFP Program Staff: Rabbi Debbie Reichmann, Rev. Samantha Gonzalez-Block, Rev. Beth McCracken-Harness, Miranda Hovemeyer

Thanks again to our storytellers and to you all!
Remember: Tell Your Story!



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