An earlier post was about an oped piece in the New York Times by Frank Lilgtvort, a white father with black adopted children. Lilgtvort refers to the Andrew Solomon book, ‘Far From the Tree,‘ about families with children who differ profoundly from their parents. Solomon tells about the “vertical identity” that the child gets from his parents, and this vertical identity typically includes race and religion.

A program at the Jewish Center of Princeton, 435 Nassau Street, is going to take this idea a step further. Here is the press release:

A program to raise awareness about experiences of Jews of color in Jewish communal institutions will be held at The Jewish Center of Princeton, Saturday, October 26. Some of the questions to be examined are how are Jews of color greeted? Are they ignored? Do they have to face continual assumptions about who they are and what they know and do not know? If someone sees a mixed-race couple, do they immediately assume that the white person is the Jew? Do they assume that the person of color converted, that s/he needs help following the service or reading Hebrew, when that person may have been educated in a yeshiva? The goal of the conversations in this “no shame, no blame” program is to make synagogues, Jewish day schools, and other institutions warmer and more welcoming places. Two members of the Jewish Multiracial Network will facilitate the program.

Feeling “apart” doesn’t have to be because of race. It can be because of anything. Here is a link to a poignant essay by someone who felt isolated from Christian congregations because he has Asperger’s Syndrome.  He tried to “feel the spirit” by worshipping with charismatic groups. It didn’t work. And he was a PK, a Preacher’s Kid.

Multiple times, each week, every week, I found myself wishing I’d be moved by the worship music, or that I could shut off my skeptical mind during the sermons.

How can those who feel “different” be accepted in all groups, especially faith groups? How can faith-based groups embrace differences?