New flicks with celebs in interfaith relationships and from interfaith backgrounds, plus their baby news!Go To Pop Culture
For those of you who follow the lives of the royal family, Prince Harryâ€™s relationship withÂ Suits star Meghan Markle got a renewed buzz when Elle UK and the Express reported that the two can now be married at Westminster Abbey.
Because Markle was married before, there was question of whether Prince Harry could follow in the footsteps of his brother, Prince William, and get married at Westminster Abbey. His father chose a civil ceremony for his second marriage.
The other issue that has come into question for the couple is one of faith. There is wide speculation that Markle is Jewish and therefore, would most likely have an interfaith wedding. However, because she attended a Roman Catholic high school, there are also rumors that she is Roman Catholic. Even with amendments to the Act of Settlement of 1701, a Roman Catholic is still not able to become a monarch since it conflicts with the monarchy also being the head of the Church of England.
Still, the excitement for another royal wedding is definitely in the air. Now itâ€™s up to Prince Harry (or Meghan) to pop the big question! We hope to hear wedding bells soon.
Two of the hit TV show The Big Bang Theoryâ€™s main characters, Howard and Bernadette, announced that they are having a baby. Mere moments after hearing the news, the father-to-be was fretting about how they would raise their child since they come from different religious backgrounds. â€śHowâ€™s this all going to work? Youâ€™re Catholic, Iâ€™m Jewish. What religion do we raise it?! And if itâ€™s a boy, do we get him circumcised?â€ť
While their different backgrounds have bubbled up in past episodes, I imagine that Wolowitzâ€™ rant in this scene hit home for many interfaith couples. Navigating two distinct backgrounds is often quite simpleâ€¦until someone is holding a positive pregnancy test in hand.
When does the topic of religion usually come up in interfaith relationships? Some begin talking about religion before anything gets serious, especially when a faith background is very important to one or both people. But the reality for many couples from different religious or cultural backgrounds is that they only start to discuss these potential differences well into their relationship. For those who plan to have children, conversations about raising children often occur only after having them. Bringing a child into the world can rouse religious questions for the first time. In fact, the least religiously connected time of many peopleâ€™s lives is young adulthood, so when they meet a partner, religion may be the last thing on their minds.
My advice is to talk early and often. Try introducing the topic with these conversation startersâ€”either before having kids or when kids are young:
1. Â Talk about your respective backgrounds. Do you both come from a religious heritage that is significant to you? Or just one?
2. Â Imagine your life about 5 or 10 years down the road. Do you picture particular religious rituals occurring (ie. baby namings, baptism, bris/Jewish ritual circumcision, bar or bat mitzvah, confirmation, etc)? Religious education? Explain to each other what is important to you and whyâ€”even if you never had to articulate it before.
3. Â Talk about holidays and milestones. Which will you celebrate? Why are they important to you? With whom will you spend them? How will you explain your decisions to your child so they feel pride and ownership over their identity or identities?
4. Â How will you include family members who donâ€™t share traditions and celebrations you choose to observe?
5. Â You donâ€™t have to have it all figured out right this minute, but setting the stage will help tremendously. You will develop a shared language and a better understanding of what is important to each of you. When issues do arise, it wonâ€™t be the first time youâ€™ve thought about religion together.
The clearer you are about the decisions you are making, the clearer you can be with your kids, in-laws and other extended family and friends. Donâ€™t shy away from talking about religion. You will actually become stronger as a couple when you learn to communicate about delicate subjects without fear of threatening the relationship between the two of you or extended family. Plus, as you learn more about one anotherâ€™s backgrounds, hopes and desires, you could actually be uncovering stories that allow you to know each other on an even deeper level. If you feel more comfortable having a guide with you as you broach these questions, the InterfaithFamily staff is here to help.
Are Bernadette and Howard too late to figure out the logistics of an interfaith family? Not at all. But better to not be taken by surprise.
Dear Chelsea & Marc,
First I want to say Bâ€™shaâ€™ah tovah and mazel tov on your pregnancy. Your pregnancy announcement was adorable and I hope Charlotte adjusts to your pregnancy and the new baby once it arrives. I glanced below the article I read including your announcement and saw several comments from people who, for whatever reason, think they know whatâ€™s best for your family. If you havenâ€™t read them yet, donâ€™t. If you have read them, or if youâ€™ve heard them elsewhereâ€”Iâ€™m sorry people are treating you as the role model for interfaith families. Iâ€™m especially sorry your daughter will grow up hearing these comments and constantly having to explain her family to others.
But the truth is, you are a role model, and your daughter will be one too. No, not because youâ€™re the daughter of a President (or maybe two?). And no, not because you are a public figure. But because you are married to a Jewish man. And youâ€™re not alone in this. All interfaith couples and families become role models and representatives. You see, we Jews have a lot of opinions on how the Jewish people should behave. But the thing is, we all behave differently. We have no one standard of how a â€śJewishâ€ť family should behave or how an â€śinterfaithâ€ť child should act.
I hope that you and your family are able to look past all the judgment and shame that other people might place on you, and enjoy this time. There are many of us rooting for you and following your journey hoping to learn from your experience. Teach your daughter love and kindness and go from there. Being a mom to a toddler and pregnant is already enough to deal with. I hope that the love in your life and family only continues to grow, and that you can continue living the life you want for your daughter and your new addition.
Being a role model for interfaith families can be tough, but creates a groundwork for future families to follow. Let the love you have guide you and you will be supported. In the meantimeâ€”know that there are other families navigating this crazy road alongside you and that there are many of us in the Jewish community who welcome you with open arms. InterfaithFamily has loads of baby resources just for you. May your family go from strength to strength in this holiday season.
Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and mazel tov,
Rabbi Keara Stein
Perhaps it is because I have been working with interfaith couples and families in an intense way for over four years as Director of IFF/Chicago, but my sensitivity alarm went off in a major way during this film.
Here are my impressions:
1. Â The dinosaur dad dies as well as Spotâ€™s (the cave-boy) parents. The death of parents in animated films has no doubt been the basis of more than one thesis. Itâ€™s important to be comfortable seeing death, talking about loss and understanding memory. The death of parents in so many films for children is thought-provoking, for sure. But why does there have to be so much of it?
2. Â There is a theme in the movie that if you are going to really engage with life, then there will be fear. You will be scared. The important thing is what to do about it. How we react and how we cope and get through something tough shows our character.
Unfortunately, the way Arlo, Spotâ€™s dinosaur friend, shows he can face fear is through physically fighting and warding off the predators. This is the way he leaves his mark; this is how he shows he has done something worthy and important. I wished there was a way he showed his inner strength and resolve without fighting. Standing up for oneself and defending against harm is important at times. However, more often than needing to physically harm someone else to protect oneself when standing up to bullies or navigating difficult people and circumstances, is the need to think with ingenuity and resolve.
3. Â The last theme I want to discuss is the one with interfaith connotations, for me. In one scene, Arlo shows Spot what a family is. He puts sticks in the ground for each family member and draws a circle around them. Then Spot does the same thing and draws a circle around his family of sticks. At the end, Spot is taken in by another cave family and Arlo reunites with what is left of his dinosaur family. There seems to be a message that each kind stays with their group. I was waiting for Arlo and Spot to join their circles and show symbolically that they have become a family because they have cared for each other. This does not happen. They go their separate ways at the end.
The cave parents show Spot how to walk on two feet, and it is clear that only within your species can you learn certain skills. The dinosaurs on all fours would not have been able to teach him this. I think this raises all kinds of questions about adoption, whether different cultures can raise each other, and whether different animals, in the most figurative way, can be a family. With my interfaith family hat on, I was hoping there would be a message of unity within diversity.
Did you cry through it like we did? Did you have a similar take on these themes?Â As Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav taught us, â€śThe whole world is a narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to be afraid.â€ť
Hanukkah is a holiday full of fun and meaningful traditions, like eating foods made with oil such as latkes and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts); playing the dreidel game; and of course lighting the hanukkiah (the nine branched candelabrum, commonly called a â€śMenorahâ€ť in English). And of course there are the traditional songs â€“ like Maâ€™oz Tsur (“Rock of Ages”), â€śI Have a Little Dreidelâ€ť and â€śHanukkah, O Hanukkah.â€ť
In modern times, there have been some great Hanukkah songs, some for children (though still loved by adults), such as Debbie Friedmanâ€™s â€śThe Latke Songâ€ť and others for a wider audience, like Matisyahuâ€™s â€śMiracles.”
Hanukkah music rose to a whole new â€“ and much funnier â€“ level on December 3, 1994, when Adam Sandler performed “The Chanukah Song” on Saturday Night Liveâ€Ť‘â€‹s Weekend Update. The original song was followed up by â€śPart IIâ€ť (1999),Â â€śPart 3â€ť (2002) and a new updated version this year. In all four songs, Sandler sings about celebrities who he claims (often, though not always correctly) are â€śJewish,â€ť â€śnot Jewish,â€ť or â€śhalf-Jewish.â€ť To learn more about all four of Sandlerâ€™s songs check out the Wikipedia entry on â€śThe Chanukah Songâ€ť which includes a listing of the celebrities mentioned in the songs, the truth about whether they are or arenâ€™t Jewish and links to covers and spoofs. Here’s the latest version.
Starting around 2010, a new kind of Hanukkah song became popular: The Pop Song Haunkkah Parody. Even though it’s been aÂ few years after the first really popular parodies started circulating around the internet, I still remember most of the words to each of the parody songs – though I couldnâ€™t even remember who sang the song originally, let alone the words to the original song. So, in keeping with the number eight for the eight nights of Hanukkah, here are my eight favorite Hanukkah Pop Song Parodies (in chronological order):
1. Â The Fountainheadâ€™s â€śI Gotta Feeling Hanukkah,â€ťÂ the 2010 parody of The Black Eyed Peasâ€™ â€śI Gotta Feeling.â€ť The Fountainheads are a group of young Israeli singers, dancers and musicians who are all graduates and students of the Ein Prat Academy for Leadership.
2. Â The one that really brought Hanukkah song parodies into the big leagues was â€śCandlelight,â€ťÂ a 2012 parody of Taio Cruzâ€™s â€śDynamiteâ€ť by The Maccabeats, Yeshiva Universityâ€™s all-male a capella group.
3. Â â€śEight Nights â€“ Hanukkah Mashup,â€ťÂ a 2012 Hanukkah parody/mashup of three songs: â€śSome Nightsâ€ť by Fun, â€śDie Youngâ€ť by Ke$ha and â€śLive While Weâ€™re Youngâ€ť by One Direction. StandFour is another all-male a capella group, composed of four former members of The Maccabeats.
4. Â The B-Boyz â€ś(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Dreidel),â€ťÂ a 2012 parody of The Beastie Boysâ€™ â€ś(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)â€ť by three young brothers – Ben, Jake and Max Borenstein.
5. The Maccabeats again with â€śBurnâ€ť – their 2013 version of Ellie Gouldingâ€™s song. They didnâ€™t change the words, but they made it into a Hanukkah video.
6. Â â€śChanukah Lights,â€ťÂ The Jabberwocks of Brown Universityâ€™s 2014 song, which is a play on Kanye Westâ€™s â€śAll of the Lights.â€ť The Jabberwocks are Brownâ€™s oldest, all-male a capella group.
7. Â Six13â€™s 2014 â€śChanukah (Shake It Off)â€ť parodying Taylor Swiftâ€™s â€śShake It Off.â€ť Six13 is an all-male Jewish a capella group from New York.
8. Â And the Maccabeats yet again, with 2014â€™s â€śAll About that Neis,â€ťÂ a parody of Meghan Trainorâ€™s â€śAll About the Bass.â€ť
I canâ€™t wait to hear and watch what these groups and others have in store for Hanukkah 2015. And I hope to see more women (of the six groups whose parodies I listed above only one, The Fountainheads, included women) and girls coming out with some awesome parodies.
Whatâ€™s your favorite Hanukkah song or song parody? Please share a link so we can all enjoy.
In Downton Abbey, Lord Sinderby is the disapproving Jewish father who opposes his sonâ€™s interfaith marriage to Rose. In Lord Sinderbyâ€™s time, there were virtually no opportunities for interfaith families to engage in Jewish life, unless Rose were to convert.
Fortunately, we donâ€™t live in that time anymore. Today, many interfaith families can live active Jewish lives â€“ and many do. The Reform and Reconstructionist movements consider children to be Jewish if there is one Jewish parent (regardless of whether it is the mother or father) and they are raised as Jews. They can be married by a rabbi and join a synagogue.
While Jane Eisner defends Lord Sinderby (â€śDefending Lord Sinderby,â€ť The Forward, March 1, 2015), I cannot. Too many Jewish professionals and communities still think that Jews are â€śthrowing it all awayâ€ť, to paraphrase Lord Sinderbyâ€™s words, when they marry someone who isnâ€™t Jewish. With a different approach, however, we can see interfaith relationships as an opportunity to invite more people in to the Jewish community. Rose, although naĂŻve, is already eager to learn about the faith. And wouldnâ€™t it be beneficial to have Lord Grantham as an ally?
I do agree with Eisner on a few points, though. We do need to ask the difficult questions, not only of interfaith families, but also of Jewish institutions. If we want to ask the spouse who wasnâ€™t raised Jewish â€śto commit to doing her part to carry on a precious tradition,â€ť as Eisner says, then canâ€™t we ask Jewish institutions to welcome them and provide opportunities for learning and community?
What would happen if we shifted the focus from who someone marries to helping all families â€“ interfaith and in-married â€“ find their place in the Jewish community? I bet we would see a myriad of beautiful Jewish traditions being passed on to the next generation. That points to a bright Jewish future indeed.
Here at InterfaithFamily HQ, we have heard some fascinating personal stories about balancing interfaith lives, many of which are hilarious. Clearly, Lifetime Television agrees that interfaith lives have great stories to tell as they prepare to launch their all-new docu-sitcom Kosher Soul (#KosherSoul).
Premiering Wednesday, February 25, at 10p ET/PT, we hope you will join us in tuning in to the story of outrageous and sure-to-be entertaining Miriam and Oâ€™Neal as they bring their own interfaith story to life. I will live tweet the event over on our @interfaithfam twitter account (using the #KosherSoul hashtag) and hope you will join us in some lively conversation about this premier!
Despite doubts and concerns from their loved ones, recently engaged Miriam and Oâ€™Neal are preparing to marry and begin their lives in a Jewish home. Madly in love, Oâ€™Neal is ready to prove his dedication to Miriam by converting to Judaism in order to be accepted by her mother, Nancy, who wants her future grandchildren to be raised Jewish. At the same time, Miriam is trying to blend Oâ€™Nealâ€™s southern upbringing and traditions into her life. What results is a hilarious and touching peek into the love and affection between two soul mates whose deep and emotional connection overcomes cultural barriers.
Donâ€™t worry guys! We have plenty of resources to help you through your journey. According to the trailerâ€¦ you might need this!
Don’t forget to check out my live tweets during the first episode. See you there!
Update: As suspected, Benji Madden has Jewish ancestry and it is likely this couple had a Jewish wedding for a reason.
If youâ€™ve seen the news buzzing about Cameron Diaz and Benji Maddenâ€™s quick, surprise Jewish wedding, you might be wondering: Are one of these people Jewish? It seems pretty strange to have a Jewish wedding, complete with breaking the glass, a yichud (a ritual where the bride and groom take time alone immediately following the ceremony) and other religious traditions if neither Diaz nor Madden practice Judaism or have Jewish relatives.
Which is why I am of the opinion that there is some meaning behind these ceremonial customs. Wouldnâ€™t it seem a bit disrespectful to incorporate a religion that has no personal meaning to you into your wedding day of all days? I wouldnâ€™t put it past Hollywood, but I have a feeling a rational explanation will eventually come out. Or at least I hope so.
What do you think? Did the couple have a Jewish wedding just for kicks or do they come from diverse religious backgrounds and chose to connect with Judaism?
Itâ€™s official: The Bachelorette, Andi Dorfman, is in an interfaith relationship. But we already knew thatâ€”the frontrunners in her quest for love were not Jewish, and Andi is (she famously acknowledged her religion when she was a contestant on The Bachelor). Interestingly, the man she chose and whose proposal she accepted, Josh Murray, was raised Christian but comes from an interfaith family. While the Jewish Week was quick to call this a Jewish match, the fact is, itâ€™s a combining of faiths, as so many relationships are. Joshâ€™s mother is Jewish and his father is not, but the family practices Christianity.
It seems faith is important in both Andi and Joshâ€™s families. Joshâ€™s younger brother, apparently, has a tattoo of a cross and a tattoo of the Star of David. Josh, 29, is from Tampa, FL, and now lives in Atlantaâ€”conveniently where Andi herself, a 27-year-old district attorney is based. From the interviews theyâ€™ve already done since last nightâ€™s season finale, we get the gist that theyâ€™re planning to wed next year, and that they plan to have a few kids. What will their wedding look like? Christian? Jewish? Neither? Because religion is important to both families, weâ€™re putting our money on an interfaith ceremony.
Seth Meyers reveals that…he’s not Jewish! Despite what “every single Jewish person thinks,” he is not Jewish (though he does have a Jewish grandfather).
In this clip from Late Night with Seth Meyers, he talks about getting married to his now wife Alexi, who is Jewish, under a chuppah, and about his in-laws who consider him “Jewish enough.” Meyers may have thought he was merely being funny, but little did he know he was becoming the poster celebrity for InterfaithFamily!