Save Reform Outreach Again

The Reform movement made a public announcement today that it is closing its regional offices and replacing existing program departments in its national office with teams of specialists. Everyone who cares about outreach to interfaith families should be deeply concerned about the implications of these developments on outreach to interfaith families, which the Reform movement pioneered and has led for more than 25 years.

Prior to 2003, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ, the Reform movement) had a national outreach department and a part-time regional outreach director in each of its 14 regions around the country. Then the outreach department was combined with synagogue membership, and in 2003, because of stated budgetary concerns, most of the regional outreach positions were eliminated. At IFF we started a “Save Reform Outreach” campaign at the time, which some people say played a significant role in preserving some of the positions. Continue reading

Purim is Coming

Purim comes but once a year and when it comes you know it’s here–because people get really silly. I am not sure whether this article about Christian salt is for real. Yes, OK, maybe there is someone out there who doesn’t understand that Jews use kosher salt for removing the blood from meat and feels weirded out by salt with a Jewish star on it. But this part of the article made me think this could be a put-on:

If the salt takes off, Godlewski plans an entire line of Christian-branded foods, including rye bread, bagels and pickles.

Oh come on, people! This has to be a Purim joke!

On the other hand, that Christmas decoration that looked in the photo like someone is burning a cross on your lawn that was all over the web last December turned out to be a real product from a real organization, so who knows.

Matthew Scott, who wrote a nice article for InterfaithFamily.com about being in an interfaith relationship and learning to cook and eat Jewish food, was one of several people to bring the Christian salt story to my attention. He was also the first person in my network to find the new 92nd Street Y Purim video, Meshugene Men–though I’d read about it on jbooks.com, in a fun interview with comedy writer Rob Kutner, who made the video. I’ve embedded it below the cut. Continue reading

Lindsay Lohan Choosing Judaism?

It looks like Lindsay Lohan is interested in converting to Judaism. According to several news sources including the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz Lohan announced her intentions on her Facebook page with a profile change. (By the way, InterfaithFamily.com has a Facebook fan page and you are welcome to join!)

Lindsay Lohan

Lohan and her girlfriend, Samantha Ronson, recently went to London for Ronson’s brother’s bar mitzvah. One part of the media blitz on this topic disturbed me. Every article I have read on the topic spoke of how she was only doing this to please her girlfriend. Lohan has explored other religions in the past and it seems unfair to say that she is just converting for love. Maybe Ronson introduced her to Judaism, but I hope she is making this decision for herself.

A Message from Jewish New Orleans

I posted last week to wish everyone Happy Shrove Tuesday! Happy Mardi Gras! and mentioned the city we all associate with that Catholic holiday, New Orleans.  A reader wrote to update me about how things are going in New Orleans from his perspective as member of one of the city’s old Jewish families. I’m going to let him be my guest blogger, today, and share the email with you:

Dear Ms. Abrams,

I stumbled on your post about Mardi Gras and wanted to
write to you directly.

I am a member/officer of Temple Sinai, New Orleans — 4th Generation.
Our congregation has been involved in interfaith activities since before
I was born and continues to be, and I’m in a 35+ year interfaith
marriage. But that is another discussion.

What I want to comment on now, is the interfaith nature of the help that
has come to the New Orleans area. I can’t even imagine the number of
church and faith groups that have come here from all over the country to
help rebuild New Orleans. Without them and all of the other volunteers,
we would not have, quite literally, survived as a community. Continue reading