A Sad Day for Outreach


Two weeks ago, I was eating lunch with employees of the Robert I. Lappin Foundation, as fellow workers in interfaith outreach marveled at the foundation’s programming and sophistication. On Friday, these employees–and everyone else who worked for the foundation–lost their jobs.

The Foundation was the victim of securities fraud, as it saw its entire $8 million in assets frozen–and probably lost–in the fraud investigation into New York investor Bernard Madoff’s hedge fund. On Dec. 11, Madoff was arrested after admitting that his fund was essentially a $50 billion “Ponzi” scheme. 

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Intermarriage in Egypt, Moms, Etc.


Consider this a belated cleaning of online hametz:

The Link Sink

  • We’re based in Newton, Mass., and receive great support from Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Boston’s Jewish federation. One of our biggest fans is Barry Shrage, executive director of CJP. So admittedly I’m a bit biased, but this article in Ha’aretz about Shrage’s recent sabbatical in Jerusalem shows that Shrage “gets it” in a way that few Jewish establishment leaders do. A sample of quotes: “Our obsession with numbers is simply not a good thing.” “Within 10 to 15 years, most Jews will live in religiously intermarried families, and in such a situation, it is no longer possible to rely solely on ethnicity and continue to be relevant to all these Jews.” “For us, Israel no longer has to justify its existence, but it must progress to the next stage, of the joint creation of a perfect Jewish society…”
  • The (London) Jewish Chronicle reports that rabbis in the country’s small Liberal movement (similar to America’s Reform movement) have seen a “sharp rise in requests to give blessings to mixed-faith marriages.” It’s still only a tiny amount: 60 so far this year for the entire country, compared to 30-40 last year. But the increase shouldn’t be a surprise considering recent official census figures from Britain on the increase in interfaith dating and cohabitation.
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    Obituary for Sherwin Wine


    JTA published a story today on the death of Sherwin Wine, the founder of Humanistic Judaism.

    In many ways, Wine injected an honesty into the practice of Judaism that had been missing prior to his arrival. While many Jews don’t believe in God (certainly more than believe in the Torah as the word of God), the vast majority of affiliated Jews worship at synagogue services infused with God-language. Wine, a Reform rabbi by training and an atheist by inclination, felt reciting such prayers was intellectually dishonest. So he founded an entire movement of Judaism, one that celebrates Jewish traditions but removes mention of a deity.

    Despite its growing popularity in Israel, it has never caught on in the States, one of the few countries in the developed world where not practicing a religion is more of a social stigma than practicing one. The funny thing is, even the most Orthodox of the Orthodox will tell you that believing in God is incidental to being Jewish; either you’re born Jewish or convert under the proper auspices, or you’re not Jewish. It doesn’t matter what you believe in.
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    Rabbi Sherwin Wine, 1928-2007


    We just found out that Rabbi Sherwin Wine, founder of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, died on Saturday in a car accident while on vacation in Morocco. Secular Humanistic Judaism has consistently been an extraordinarily friendly place for interfaith families to explore Judaism.

    Our sincerest condolences to his family and loved ones.

    A Muslim-Jewish Wedding


    It appears that we’re not the only ones interested in Muslim-Jewish relationships.

    Ha’aretz recently published this story about the wedding of Hadar Harris, a Jewish human rights lawyer, and Rahim Sabir, a Moroccan Muslim who was one of the United Nations’ first human rights observers in Darfur. This follows a New York Times story about their wedding.

    In the interest of full disclosure–and self-promotion–we should note that Hadar is a loyal reader and supporter of InterfaithFamily.com. Congratulations, Hadar and Sabir!