The Link Sink

So I have to apologize for the long layoff. Thanksgiving, combined with site overhaul business and preparing our report on the 2007 December holidays survey, has kept me away from the blogosphere for several weeks. I make no promises of a return to daily blogging until 2008, but here’s a grab bag of goodies that have been collecting in recent weeks:

Perhaps this is obvious, but living in Jackson Heights is a lot like being intermarried. In many ways, these situations make it much harder to live a Jewish life–I can’t be Jewish by osmosis or accident. But they also mean that I don’t take Judaism for granted, that I am often more conscious of my Jewish identity and more motivated to seek out Jewish things.

The second discusses how Jewish outreach to the intermarried needs to improve. The Jewish community offers outreach to the intermarried on the assumption that their intermarriage is a “problem.” But the intermarried families themselves rarely see their relationship as a problem. Like everyone else, they respond to activities and communities that fit their needs, that are fun, that are convenient:

[Activities] have to inspire and educate–or at least entertain. And that’s a tall order for any nonprofit institution, particularly those–like most synagogues–run primarily by overextended (and often elderly) volunteers without much of a budget at their disposal.

  • A blog post by another friend, Hannah Farber of Jewish Funds for Justice, reflects on Joelle Berman’s (yes, she is also a friend. Aren’t I popular?) essay for Reform Judaism magazine on being the proudly Jewish child of an interfaith marriage. In the essay Berman relates her shock the first time she was told that she wasn’t Jewish because her mom’s not. Like Berman, Farber is the child of a non-Jewish mother and grew up in the Reform movement. But unlike Berman, she is a bit annoyed that nobody in the movement ever told her that other parts of the Jewish community wouldn’t see her as Jewish; she feels that she wasn’t given the proper tools to counter Conservative and Orthodox Jews’ claims. She feels that she was unnecessarily sheltered, not unlike Haredi Jews who express profound culture shock when entering the secular world.
  • I’m a huge Dylan fan, so my interest is piqued by the new movie I’m Not There, a strange biography of Dylan that stars six actors as Dylan–including Cate Blanchett and a black teenage actor, Marcus Carl Franklin. The approach makes sense for an artist as inscrutable and shape-shifting as Dylan. Even his religious journey has been bizarre: he grew up as a non-participating Jew, became an evangelical Christian during the ’70s and has recently been reported to be fraternizing with Chabad. The movie is directed by Todd Haynes, whose mother was Jewish. In the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, he has a number of interesting things to say to George Robinson about his own Jewishness–and Dylan’s.

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