To non-Jewish mothers raising Jewish children, the Jewish community says, “Thank You!”

by | Oct 3, 2014 | What’s Happening

The Mothers Circle program begins Tuesday, Oct. 21, 9 am

In the United States, at least half of all Jewish marriages are interfaith marriages. In many such unions, women of different faiths want to understand more about Judaism and raising Jewish children, but may not have available an accessible or sympathetic source of Jewish learning and understanding.

To find ways to appreciate and support non-Jewish spouses, five Tidewater Jewish organizations have joined together to sponsor a national educational program called The Mothers Circle. This program advocates learning about Judaism in a relaxed, supportive environment with a set non-denominational curriculum.

The goal of The Mothers Circle is to provide women not raised Jewish with the tools to explain and celebrate holidays, create a Jewish home and raise Jewish children, if they so choose. The program, which is free, will be held twice a month on Tuesday mornings at the Simon Family JCC. Free babysitting will be offered for participants during each class. In addition to the course, four couple or family-friendly events are planned for evenings and weekends so that all interfaith families can learn about and enjoy Judaism together.

Ashley Lemke spearheaded the effort to start this program since she is of a different faith and wants to support her children’s understanding of their Jewish heritage. “It’s clear there are many women like me who are struggling to understand their husband’s Jewish religion. It can be difficult for husbands to explain the ‘who, what and why’ of a culture they’ve been part of since birth. The Mothers Circle is a way for women to learn together what Judaism is about and to figure out with their spouses how Judaism will be part of their families.”

Lemke’s children started at Strelitz Early Childhood Center two years ago because she and her husband, Shawn, sought a place to educate themselves as well as their children about Judaism, and they didn’t belong to other Jewish organizations.

“Once my children attended Strelitz, I found a spiritual connection with my husband because I had a positive Jewish experience. My husband and I can finally pray together, because I’ve learned blessings through my children. I want to expand on my own knowledge about Judaism so we can enhance that connection, and I can be a competent spiritual leader in my family. I look forward to meeting and learning from other women who are on a similar journey.”

The Mothers Circle is sponsored by Ohef Sholom Temple, Congregation Beth El, the Simon Family Jewish Community Center, Strelitz Early Childhood Center and the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater. For more information about The Mothers Circle, contact Linda Peck, director of Congregational Life at Ohef Sholom Temple, at 757-625-4295 or Or check out The Mothers Circle Facebook page at