Shep Englander — Federation Journal
Cincinnati 2020 in 2018: Marty Hiudt
Each installment in this series features a different perspective on Cincinnati 2020, the Jewish community’s collaboration to build an engaged and empowered Jewish community by the year 2020. This week, we hear from Marty Hiudt, who is on the Executive Committee of both the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and the Mayerson JCC.
Federation: How are you involved in the Jewish community of Cincinnati?
Marty Hiudt: I am currently active on both the boards of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and Mayerson JCC, serving on both Executive Committees. I have cochaired the Federation Annual Campaign for a couple of years (with Jay Price and my wife Sally, respectively). I have worked for a few years on the JCC’s Adams Golf Classic and serve as the cochair this year with Howard Schwartz. Additionally, I am active at our synagogue, Adath Israel.
Why should engaging interfaith families be important to the community?
Look, interfaith marriages are nothing new. People fall in love with who they fall in love with—simple as that. And study after study shows us that this reality, as it relates to Judaism, is not going away and will likely grow as a percentage of the Jewish population. As a community, we can “stick our heads in the sand,” ignoring the trend or, better to my way of thinking, find ways to embrace, engage, and expose these couples or families to the proud, beautiful, nurturing, fulfilling aspects of Jewish life in Cincinnati and the world.
The community is contributing a significant amount of time and money to send young couples to Israel through the Honeymoon Israel program. What do you see as the return on that investment?
If there is anything we have learned over the recent past from the 2013 Pew study, it is the value of sending our young Jews to overnight camps and getting them to Israel in their high school/college years. Either, or better yet both, of these significantly improves the odds that those who go to camp and/or Israel will have a closer, deeper lasting connection to their Judaism. That is why The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati funds Cincy Journeys and why they are now partnering with the Federation and JCC to bring Honeymoon Israel to Cincinnati. Honeymoon Israel provides immersive trips to Israel for locally based cohorts of couples that have at least one Jewish partner, early in their committed relationship, creating communities of couples who are building families with deep and meaningful connections to Jewish life and the Jewish people.
Honeymoon Israel is a 501c3 organization that operates trips from 18 cities across North America, in close partnership with local Jewish organizations. Honeymoon Israel is open to all eligible couples with diverse backgrounds, including interfaith and Jewish couples.
Our hope/plan for young couples in who participate in Honeymoon Israel Cincinnati, both Jewish and interfaith, to incorporate Judaism into their relationships—in a way that is meaningful to them. The return on this investment is hopefully a renewal or deepening of a Jewish partner’s Judaism and an added interest, participation, and commitment to the history and culture of Judaism for non-Jewish partners. And if they have children, we would hope to see Judaism incorporated into their children’s lives as well. To help facilitate that, the Mayerson JCC and the Federation will engage the couples who go on Honeymoon Israel before, during, and after their trip.
How do you see Honeymoon Israel supporting the Cincinnati 2020 vision of connecting young adults to the community?
Cincinnati 2020 strives to increase the number of Cincinnatians engaged in Jewish life and enhance their well-being and Jewish identity. Helping these couples experience Israel with their spouse is the essence of what 2020 is all about—which is a natural fit for our goals. If we can better connect Jewish couples to our community, and if we can help even a modest number of interfaith couples better navigate their “interfaith-ness,” this is a big win for Jewish Cincinnati.
How can we help others understand the connection to and the importance of Honeymoon Israel and interfaith engagement?
It’s a great question. So many are so busy doing so many “things.” Whether it’s home, family, work, finding personal time, or volunteering, it can be overwhelming. So cutting through life’s clutter and educating people on the features and benefits of Honeymoon Israel is a challenge, especially, I think, if one is not personally dealing with the issue of an interfaith relationship (i.e. Why should this matter to me? I am not part of an interfaith couple.) Our rabbis can reach out and help as they counsel new interfaith couples and their families. And we as a community should always work to be open, warm, and engaging in an effort to nurture these relationships.
What does the future of Jewish Cincinnati look like through the lens of young couples?
I’m not sure I am the best person to ask about a young person’s lens, but I would hope that any clear thinking, observant, even moderately involved local young person would see that so many in Jewish Cincinnati are working tirelessly to make our city a dynamic, sustainable Jewish community for them and their families to live, grow, and thrive.
What do you hope the community accomplishes in interfaith engagement through Cincinnati 2020 in the next 5 years?
I hope to see more Jews, more engaged. That’s kind of the unofficial Cincinnati 2020 motto, and it speaks directly to the vision to make interfaith families feel like they’re part of Jewish Cincinnati. There are many organizations—from our congregations to the Federation, Foundation, HUC-JIR, and the J—who are creating opportunities for interfaith families to engage. I think five years from now, we will see that impact in the community.
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