Why Jewish Life?

My Yom Kippur experience was especially meaningful this year–I hope yours was too. It’s a wonderful opportunity to reflect on and evaluate my life, and consider what I can do better. I feel I have an entire clean slate of a New Year to fill, and the prospect is very exciting.

I think my main motivation in founding InterfaithFamily.com, Inc. was my belief, based on my own experience and that of many friends, that participating in Jewish life can be a great source of meaning and fulfillment, not just for Jews, but in particular for interfaith couples. The Yom Kippur opportunity to reflect and evaluate is one example of that. Coincidentally or not, a wonderful article in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine is another great example.

So the Torah is a Parenting Guide by Emily Bazelon tells the story of Wendy Mogel, a child psychologist who wrote a book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children. As the book’s title indicates, Mogel finds relevance in ancient Jewish texts to the most current of issues, in her case, raising children in our modern world. The book has become something of a best-seller–and not just to Jewish parents.

For many years I was privileged to take an early morning Talmud class taught by a wonderful Orthodox rabbi, Reuven Cohn. I was repeatedly struck then by the relevance of Jewish texts to modern issues. When I went back to school as part of my career change, I wrote a paper for Robert Reich’s class on social policy that applied lessons from the Talmud tractate on Pe’ah (about leaving the corners of the fields for the poor to harvest) to current welfare policy.

I have often felt that the Jewish community does not do nearly a good enough job in “marketing” the appealing aspects of Jewish life, again, not just to Jewish couples, but in particular to interfaith couples. Doing a better job of that continues to be one of InterfaithFamily.com’s most important goals, as this bright New Year begins.

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