Michelle Chamuel is rocking The Voice. Plus what former child star Mara Wilson has to say about Amanda Bynes (and other child stars who run into trouble).Go To Pop Culture
My son started kindergarten this week. At our
This is a Jewish folk custom that I wanted to do with my son, but probably would have forgotten in the rush to get out the door the first day of school. In Eastern Europe, Jews sent their little boys to school at a young age, and used to put honey on the slate they would be using to learn the letters, or even, on the cover of a book. Reading and writing should be sweet.
Yesterday my son was home sick–yes, on the third day of school–and was watching an Elmo video on Youtube. I overheard a little story from the computer screen about a girl whose house was made of books, whose bed was made of books, who read while she walked around and who had books everywhere. I thought, “That’s supposed to be funny and absurd but that’s what our house is like.”
Soon my desk is going to look as bad as my house. (It doesn’t yet, coworkers.) I get books here at work, a steady stream of books for us to review on the site. Whatever publishers don’t send us, I request. I’ve made friends with some of the people who send out the review copies from the Jewish publishers. We all ooohed and aaahed over a beautiful cookbook, The Book of New Israeli Food by Janna Gur, with its gorgeous photos of pomegranates, halvah and stuffed vegetables. We’re going to review it. One of our frequent book reviewers, Jayne Cohen, just came out with a great-looking book called Jewish Holiday Cooking, which we’re also going to have reviewed. It was hard to let these yummy-looking books go. Continue reading
Yesterday I wrote about the fictional story of a successful man whose child inexplicably descends into self-destruction in her teens. Today, my friend Nate Bloom alerted me to a similar story in The New York Times. The big difference is that the story in the Times is true.
In Sunday’s edition, Julie Schumacher, a novelist and English professor, writes painfully and poignantly about her daughter “who has fallen apart.” Schumacher was brought up Methodist but is a long-time atheist; her husband once said she was “the least spiritual person he had ever met.” But she finds herself in a Jewish women’s support group after being invited by the mother of a girl her daughter had met in treatment:
My five-year-old son is very subtle. The morning after our
“But you do, honey, because we saw one last night. It was the play people were acting out, about Queen Esther.”
He nodded. “But not everyone knows what that is.”
Sometimes my son will start using words correctly and then ask me later what they mean. I’m always sliding new words by him and finding out that he’s picked them up when he hands his dad a board book of the Noah’s Ark story with the request, “Read me the abridged version.” My big challenge is to introduce the words in such a way that he gobbles them up like a little Pac-Man and doesn’t shut off his attention.
This is also my challenge at my job. The difference is that I am writing here for adults who are, generally speaking, highly educated. Continue reading
I saw a very interesting one-act on Sunday. Called “Both Sides of the Family,” it tells the parallel stories of an Episcopalian woman raising Jewish children in a Conservadox community and a twice-married Jewish man with Jewish children from his first wife and Christian children from his second. It was created and produced by the Charenton Theater Company of Ohio, and was sponsored by the Interfaith Collaborative, a group of Boston-area outreach groups of which InterfaithFamily.com is a part. I helped arrange the connection between Charenton and the Collaborative, and I still don’t know what to make of the play.
The Boston Globe brought together five Jewish grandmothers and one Jewish grandfather to taste canned chicken soups. Their conclusion? They all stink.
Which I could have told them. I’ve never tasted a canned soup that tasted anything like home-made.
(Credit due Nextbook for turning me onto the link.)
At InterfaithFamily.com, a fundamental point of our mission is arguing that interfaith families should make a religious choice for their children. But it is interesting to hear the perspectives of those who advocate for the opposite view, that it’s OK to raise children in a dual-faith household.
Interfaith Community is one of the handful of organizations nationwide that have this opposing view, alongside the Interfaith Families Project in Maryland, the Family School and Jewish-Catholic Couples Dialogue Group in Chicago, Ill., and Dovetail Institute. These organizations exist on the fringes of the established religious community as nearly all religious educators and leaders stress the impossibility of adopting two religions simultaneously.
I participated in some fascinating discussions about birth ceremonies last week. The occasion was another excellent Outreach Training Institute program held on June 14, 2007 titled “Embracing the Covenant: Brit Ceremonies in Interfaith Families.” Dr. Paula Brody of the Reform movement’s Northeast Council runs four of these programs a year, funded by CJP, the Boston federation.
One of the most interesting parts of the day was a presentation by Father Walter Cuenin – author of one of the most popular articles ever published on our site, Is Heaven Denied to an Unbaptized Child?. Apparently, Catholic theology and practice has changed in many respects that apply to intermarriage situations, but “the people” aren’t always up to speed on the changes. For example:
Recent research has shown that children are more frequently raised in the mother’s religion than the father’s religion, so when a non-Jewish mom raises a Jewish child, their family is bucking the odds. What’s more, these women are often the ones driving their children to Hebrew school, reading their children Jewish children’s books and buying their children dreidels. What a noble sacrifice they make to their husband’s religion.
A beautiful example of such a mom is Amy Cummingham of New York, who writes about preparing for her son’s bar mitzvah in The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg, S.C. Cunningham is a committed Christian who attends church on a weekly basis, but agreed to raise her children Jewish because she “felt that the world could not, should not, lose any more of its radiant Jewish people.” She did indeed drive her children to Hebrew school twice a week and even went so far as to work events at the synagogue. She has some goals for the
Julie Wiener’s new column focuses on the Jewish Outreach Institute’s new book, Twenty Things for Grandparents of Interfaith Grandchildren to Do (And Not to Do) to Nurture Jewish Identity in Their Grandchildren. One of the book’s main points is that grandparents can be a powerful model of Jewish identity for their interfaith grandchildren, but they must respect their children’s boundaries.