When we set out to make a film about interfaith marriage, we had two goals: to tell great stories and to help people.
The stories were very real: love tested by faith, faith tested by love. Jews and Catholics who may have grown up looking at each other as “the other.” But when they fall in love, they’re family. The best structure to convey the honesty we witnessed is that of a documentary film.
We saw stories of wrestling with faith: to raise kids in one religion or the other, or neither, or both. This last choice is controversial, particularly in Jewish communities: there’s a lot of concern about the future. 80% of Reform Jews who got married in the last 5 years intermarried; a majority of American Jews today are partnered with someone of a different cultural or religious background.
Rather than focusing on the controversy, we set out to explore how families chart their own paths, even if they intrinsically went against conventional wisdom. As we explored their challenges head-on, problems to some became possibilities to others: boundaries crossed and traditions shared. We met children being raised in the best way mom and dad could imagine their future… and then as young adults, honestly discussing their own questions, identities and uniqueness. These stories of clergy, couples, parents and their kids shared a commonality: a deeper experience of faith by living, learning and growing together in the structure of an interfaith community.
Over the 5 ½ years we’ve been making the film, we’ve watched our world become increasingly polarized and tribal… and been inspired by so many interfaith and intercultural families and the borders they cross. We have also been moved to see the deepening of relationships among the clergy. We’re extremely grateful to those who have chosen to support the project financially and volunteered to help. We’re not across the fundraising finish line yet, but the reason we’re this far is because our interfaith community in Chicago believed we were telling their stories. Their faith in us has inspired us and kept us going, and we have grown right alongside the participants of this film as well.
As for the helping people part – well that, we hope, is what’s about to happen. Our film premieres on WTTW, Channel 11 (PBS) in Chicago on Thursday, May 23rd at 9:00 PM. It’s also now available on Vimeo on Demand. An article by Rick Kogan in the Chicago Tribune will run on Tuesday, May 14th. And there will be free screenings of the film several more times in the next few weeks with post discussions. Thank you for watching and sharing the film… and helping to build the buzz about it!
We believe that any religious choice an interfaith family makes can work – but all too often, it can be hard to find the right kind of community that supports their choice. Hopefully Leaps of Faiths will help more interfaith families find each other: there are so many of us out there.