IFFP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. How did IFFP begin? What is its guiding philosophy?
Started in 1995, The Interfaith Families Project of Greater Washington (IFFP)
is an independent community of interfaith families and others committed to sharing, learning about, and celebrating our Jewish and Christian traditions.
The core value of IFFP is respect--for each other, for Judaism and for Christianity. As a community, we celebrate, explore, question and enjoy both religious traditions. IFFP members neither reject our religious backgrounds nor seek a new religion that is a mixture of Christian and Jewish belief. Instead, we believe it is possible -- and desirable -- to honor our distinct religious traditions and to share those traditions with spouses, partners and children.
2. What time does the Sunday Program begin and end?
Our usual Sunday program format begins with the Gathering (service) from 10:00 – 10:40 in the Einstein cafeteria, followed by refreshments and social time before Sunday School and Adult Group Sessions start at 11:00.
3. Are children welcome at the Gathering?
Children of all ages are welcome at the Gathering. For younger or more restless children, you can bring a book for them to read, or a quiet toy for them to play with, or use the nursery.
4. Do you offer child care during the Gathering? During Sunday school?
Our toy-filled, teen-staffed nursery is provided for your children ages 6 months to 3-years-old during the morning’s events, for an annual fee of $110.00. If you are just visiting, feel welcome to try out our nursery program at no cost. Please feel free to take your little ones there for any period of time or stay there with them.
5. Can we bring family or friends to IFFP when they are visiting us from out of town?
Members are always welcome to bring friends and family to any of our Gatherings or events. In fact, it is encouraged, as it helps those near to you better understand how your family can celebrate two faiths in one home.
6. Can we bring prospective members to IFFP?
Yes, Please! Prospective members are always welcome at our Gatherings. There will be greeters at the entrance to the school each Sunday to welcome prospective members. They are given an opportunity to introduce themselves to the group during the Gathering. In addition, IFFP hosts two open houses each year. The Open House is an opportunity for prospective members to meet with IFFP staff and board after the Gathering to learn more about IFFP programs and activities.
7. How can we find out what the theme is for each Gathering?
There is a calendar on our brand new website - http://iffp.net/- that lists each Sunday Program and event for the year. We send out a Weekly Bulletin to our members. Most Gatherings focus on holidays and events in the Christian and Jewish calendars.
8. How can we share information or news with IFFP families at the Gathering?
At each Gathering, before the closing song, there is a time for brief announcements. Please let Reverend Julia know that you have an announcement before the Gathering starts. Each Gathering also offers a time to share joys and concerns of the community.
9. Does IFFP continue through the summer?
IFFP follows the Montgomery County school calendar year. Our services begin in September and end in June.
10. Is there a dress code for the Gatherings?
Dress at the Gatherings is very casual. Please wear whatever you feel is comfortable.
11. What does IFFP provide for refreshments between the Gatherings and Sunday School/ Adult Group?
Refreshments are provided by a bakery through our membership dues. In addition, several IFFP members provide coffee and tea after each Gathering.
12. What activities are there for adults while Sunday school is in session?
Adult Group meets in the cafeteria while the children are in Sunday School. We have very informative, lively discussions pertaining to interfaith families as well as series focusing on a particular topic for several weeks, both led by members or guest speakers and facilitators. Rabbi White often lectures on interfaith topics. This school year he will lead a series on the Book of Job.
13. Can we drop off our child for Sunday school?
At least one parent must remain at IFFP for any child who is younger than third grade. For the older children, a few families do choose to drop off their children just for Sunday school but we feel that the children benefit more if the parents are also involved.
14. We’ve joined IFFP so that our children could have some religious education, but we don’t want to get involved with the Gatherings. Is that okay?
Families join IFFP for different reasons – but the most common one is to provide an embracing and engaging atmosphere for children to learn more about both Christianity and Judaism. That was the initial motivation for founding IFFP. There are no expectations that all families will participate in the Gatherings, and some choose not to. Although there is no requirement to attend Gatherings, families need to register as “Members” with IFFP before their children can attend Sunday School for liability reasons.
15. Who are the IFFP Sunday school teachers?
IFFP Sunday School teachers are members who bring their knowledge and passion for religious studies to the children. IFFP has developed a special interfaith curriculum, and teachers are trained by the Director of Religious Education (DRE). Each classroom has two principal teachers – the DRE attempts to balance each teaching team with one Christian and one Jew. In the younger grades teachers may have their own children in their class. In the older grades, the parents are discouraged from teaching in the same classroom their children are attending.
16. Is there a curriculum that IFFP Sunday school classes follow? How will we know what our children are learning in class?
IFFP has a highly developed Sunday School curriculum from Pre-K through Coming of Age in the 7th & 8th grades. An overview of the goals by grade and a description of each grade are listed on our web site http://iffp.net/, and reviewed on Back to School Sunday.
Contacts and Logistics
17. How can we find out if the Gathering or Sunday School has been cancelled?
IFFP follows Montgomery County Public Schools for closure due to weather. In case of icy conditions, snow or storms, you can call the Montgomery County snow day information line at: 301-279-3673 or check the web at: http://www.mcps.k12.md.us
18. Can I contact Reverend Julia between Gatherings? Does she have office hours?
Rev. Julia does not have regular office hours but sees members by appointment. IFFP has an office in Takoma Park for Rev. Julia to see people. She can be contacted on her office phone (301-270-0514) or cell phone (240-432-0380). Please feel free to contact Rev. Julia if you would like some personal time with her.
19. How can we stay in touch with other IFFP-families between Gathering Sundays?
Weekly Bulletin: IFFP distributes the Weekly Bulletin via Constant Contact. E-mailed on Thursdays, this message contains information about IFFP activities—upcoming Gatherings, Sunday School, celebrations, COA and Teen Groups, announcements, updates and more.
IFFP Listserve: The IFFP Listserve invites members to post any item of interest to our community at any time, short of vendor solicitations.
Please sign up for the IFFP Listserve:
To subscribe: Send a blank e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
To post a message: Send e-mail to email@example.com
Membership Directory. The Membership Directory, published each fall, includes a great deal of useful information, including names, addresses, phones, and e-mails of all members, lists of Sunday School classes, cross-reference list of both spouse’s names, list of the Board members, calendar of events, and more.
20. Who runs IFFP?
IFFP is a non-profit organization that is run by a volunteer board comprised of IFFP members. IFFP also has part time staff, including a Spiritual Director, Spiritual Advisor, Director of Religious Education (DRE), and a Program Coordinator. Please feel free to contact IFFP Board members or staff if you need answers to any questions or help with any situations.
Rev. Julia Jarvis, Spiritual Director. Email her at RevJulia@iffp.netor call her at (240) 432-0380
Rabbi Harold White, Spiritual Advisor. The best way to reach the Rabbi is to call him at (202) 309-0445
Beth McCracken-Harness,Director of Religious Education. Email her at RevBeth@iffp.net
Miranda Hovemeyer, Program Coordinator. Email her at Miranda@iffp.netor call her at (301) 770-6337
Susan Priester, Bookkeeper. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org call her at (240) 426-3891
21. Are our IFFP dues tax deductible? Are Sunday school fees tax deductible? Can we make an additional contribution to IFFP?
IFFP membership fees are typically tax deductible depending on your individual situation; Sunday school tuition is not deductible. In addition, IFFP appreciates and relies upon the generous, tax-deductible donations of members in order to support our many activities and programs. If you have any questions, please contact Miranda Hovemeyer.
22. What are the special events that help build the IFFP community?
IFFP has many special events throughout the year: High Holy Days, Sukkot, New Member Brunch, December Holiday Party, Christmas Eve Service, Membership Meeting, Kid’s Peace Camp during the Adult Membership Meeting, Purim Carnival, Passover Seder, Women’s Retreats, Coming of Age Celebration, and Summer Camping Trip. More information about all of these events is available on our website.
23. What are some ways I can become more involved in IFFP & connect with
Joining in the special holiday celebrations and attending social events are two great ways to become more involved in IFFP and meet other members. There are social opportunities for all age groups throughout the year. Volunteering is another great way to connect with other members. If you have a special skill (playing musical instruments, facilitating an Adult Group, writing grants, etc.) please share them to enrich our community.
24. Does every family volunteer at IFFP?
Yes, because IFFP is run by volunteers. Members dedicate a great deal of time to make sure that IFFP events and activities are well-run and inviting. We rely on the generous volunteerism of all members. Throughout the year you will have many opportunities to volunteer to help with various events. Don’t hesitate to raise your hand and join in, or watch the Weekly Bulletin for more opportunities. If you aren’t sure how to help out, contact a board member or staff to get ideas about where help is needed.
25. Is IFFP a congregation? Why is it called “project?”
IFFP was called a project to reflect its capacity to grow and change. We are a community rather than a congregation. “Congregation” denotes an entity that has set parameters that a member fits into rather than a community that is organic. As Rabbi White has said, “I appreciate the reality that IFFP is open to new approaches and transcends any form of set doctrine while also adhering to the practice and teaching of both Judaism and Christianity.”