All site journals

Shanah Tovah- A sweet New Year to you

September 9, 2012 by Rabbi Sigal   Comments (0)

spirituality, Inspirations, Rabbi, Yogi, Jewish New Year

The year is coming to an end and the new year potent with possibilities is approaching.
What are the wishes of the heart for the new year?
What do you want to release and let go?

Take time to reflect and open the heart to forgiveness. Forgiving yourself and others is the royal road to happiness and joy.
Read more at:

Shanah Tova! May the new year be pregnant with new possibilities and joy for you and family.

Rabbi Schwartz would welcome an invitation to conduct Rosh haShanah and/or Yom Kippur services

June 9, 2011 by Rabbi Stanley Howard Schwartz   Comments (0)

yom kippur, rosh hashanah, Hazzan, Chazzan, Cantor, Rabbi, Yomim No-ra-im, Fall Holy Days

In 2005-2006, I served part time as the rabbi of Congregation Sholom Aleichem with Cantor Isaac Kriger. We have wanted to share a bimah for the Fall Holy Days again ever since. If your congregation, traditional or liberal wants an inspiring Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur, please contact us here in Central Florida. Cantor Kriger lives in Orlando with his talented voice coach/accompanist/musical directress Elizabeth Brahms-Kriger; I live in Daytona Beach, and work part time in my retirement as the chaplain for Haven Hospice, DeLand, FL. They met in Israel, singing for the Israeli Opera Company, then sang in Europe before returning to the USA. I am reachable at 386-405-4432 or by email at

The Birthday Party for the World

September 28, 2010 by InterfaithFamily Administrator   Comments (0)

cake, birthday, children, Rosh

Ever since I moved to Newton, Mass., I have found services to be just boring. Maybe it’s because now we go to a bigger, less personal synagogue, or when the rabbi talks, I often find myself dozing off. This year I was determined to make Rosh Hashanah meaningful for my family, especially my three year old little boy, Ariel.

I decided to make a birthday party for the world. By making Rosh Hashanah a birthday for the world, I felt my son would truly understand the meaning of the day or at least think it was really cool that we were all dressed up wearing birthday hats and eating sweet food.

For each of the two days of Rosh Hashanah we invited Ariel’s friends and their parents over to our house. We had a mix of families with guests who originated from New York, Canada, China, Ukraine, and Australia. We started each meal with apples and honey and a new fruit. It is a tradition on this holiday to try an unusual fruit for the first time in the season and recite the Shehecheyanu, a prayer of thanks that is said on many occasions including when something new happens,”.

We then moved on to the typical fare of homemade gefilte fish, brisket, noodle kugel, and carrots but we were all wearing birthday hats. Each meal was finished with birthday cookies; We keep kosher and don’t mix diary and meat, and I had a hard time finding a pareve birthday cake (one that is not dairy) and am not the type to bake it myself!

We also talked about how G-d created the world with all of the animals and plants on Rosh Hashanah. Then we talked about how nice it would be if we did good deeds or mitzvahs all year because G-d was nice enough to create the world for us. (I figured that as Ariel and his little friends are only three, we could include a discussion on evolution a few years down the road.)

It was the best Rosh Hashanah we’d had in a long while and I hope it will continue for many more years.

In response to Ed Case for his excellent piece on the Marc Mezvinsky/Chelsea Clinton wedding.

September 1, 2010 by reeve r. brenner   Comments (0)

interfaith, Chelsea Clinton, marriage, wedding

Dear Editor:
There were exceptionally pleasing feelings of pride aroused in me by Ed Case for his excellent piece on the Marc Mezvinsky/Chelsea Clinton wedding and for saying mazal tov on my behalf and for others who feel the same; and by the Forward for courageously publishing his sound wisdom and above all by the groom, Marc who saw to it that all the signifiers including Kippah, Talit, Chupa, Kiddish were featured prominently at the wedding. Marc’s parents are to be commended for the successful upbringing of Marc as a committed Jewish young man. The rabbi’s officiation was very important and also most laudable.
About the wedding, we tend to complicate things more than that they need to be: for one thing, there is no such thing as co-officiation. From a Jewish perspective, whoever presides over the exchange of rings – the symbolic act of conveying a “consideration” in the presence of two witnesses the acceptance of which validates the contract/ketubah – is the officiant and need not be clergy. It is irrelevant from this perspective that a rabbi out of a sign of respect should decide to invite others, of whatever stripe they are, to participate. Any assortment of laymen, Catholic priests, Protestant ministers or imams standing alongside the officiant constitutes a loving and generous gesture on the part of the family and the Jewish officiant. When a rabbi officiates at an inter-marriage (meaning he/she presides over the exchange of rings) it would be well advised to be welcoming in this manner. Clergy mix in many venues such as at a Thanksgiving community service. No wedding guest need be confused as to what is transpiring before their eyes. “Causing confusion,” often cited, is a very lame excuse for not inviting another worthy and beloved person to participate. Two witnesses of maturity and repute must be present to affix their signatures to the ketubah agreement. Anyone who doesn’t ordinarily write on the Sabbath (who would be sleeping over at the hotel, perhaps) can affix his (and not hers if Orthodox) signature after dark.
As for scheduling a Sabbath day-time wedding, one almost never hears the favorable reasons for the support of an earlier time, only the anti. But the permissive side would recognize how the wedding enhances and does not detract the sanctity of the Sabbath day. And since the guests do not joyously celebrate Shabbat according to Halacha, there is little concern for mixing or diminishing two joyous events –the Sabbath and a chatunah. The guests, family and couple will, in the company of the minion, hear Hebrew words of prayer and consecration they would not otherwise experience on the Sabbath. The wedding and the Sabbath are both sanctified. There are practical reasons for preponing the ceremony time before sunset besides the mitzvah of accommodating the wedding couple and their loved ones many of whom are elderly. For them an earlier time constitutes a mitzvah l’chabed zkeinim.
Kedushin does not lose its kedusha when entered into its sanctity on Shabbat Kodesh. Unless of course the wedding is a business arrangement as it still is for Orthodoxy as reflected in an Orthodox ketubah referencing monetary considerations which certainly do not belong on the Sabbath. Therefore, an Orthodox Jewish wedding ought not to be conducted on the Sabbath. A non-Orthodox wedding fits the Sabbath perfectly.
The mitzvah of officiation should take into account that the marriage not the wedding ceremony is paramount. And the wedding, (signifying: “crossroads reached” and a new life begun) almost invariably serves the function of affirming the direction or projected “pathway” the couple will take concerning the religious identity of their home and children.
If a couple decides to take the non-Christian, uncommon and exceptional pathway to the mansion of Jewish identity then the exchange of rings with the formula, “according to the traditions of Moses and the heritage of Israel” – k’dat moshe v’yisrael - would be in order. And the non-Jewish partner reciting this formula affirms his or her status as a ger or giyoret toshav a Settled Sojourner. If Chelsea will be raising Jewish kids, she’s a Settled Sojourner. If so, it will make me smile. We are a welcoming folk, not a turning our back folk. Besides, in our time, identity is transmitted in ascending lineality – by child to parent – not by descent.
We are strengthened as a people by offering various portals of entry (and exit too) of the mansion of Jewish identity. We should keep that entrance unblocked for our own good and steer the right people to the right portal. I go more deeply and theologically into these critical issues in my book (without cost), Jewish, Christian, Chewish or Eschewish: Intermarriage Pathways for the New Millennium. Above all I pray Marc and Chelsea will be happy, will be good parents as are their own accomplished parents, will prove to be well-suited for each other and that they be welcomed by the Jewish community should that be their choice in establishing their home.
Rabbi Dr. Reeve Robert Brenner

Jewish/Catholic wedding on June 5

June 7, 2010 by Claire G. Metzger   Comments (0)

Last Saturday, I co-officiated at a beautiful wedding ceremony at Curtis Farm in Wilton, New Hampshire. The bride is Catholic and the groom is Jewish, and I co-officiated with a wonderful and welcoming Priest from Bedford, NH. The wedding was in an open field with a view of the mountains and fortunately, the weather was warm and sunny, even though rain was in the forecast. I believe that both families were very happy with the ceremony, and a great time was had by all.


November 21, 2009 by avery mcdonald   Comments (1)


is it possible for a person to convert to reform judaism when their partner is not?

Wedding of Shannon Reed and Alex Iosevich

October 7, 2009 by Justin Kerber   Comments (0)

I was the m'sader kiddushin (officiant) at the marriage of Shannon Reed and Alex Iosevich. It was an intermarriage in more ways than one -- Shannon's family is from rural Missouri and the wedding was held on her parents' farm outside of Jefferson City, MO. Alex is from the former Soviet Union, and most of his guests were, as well. It's quite a sight to see so many people from the FSU sitting on hay bales at an outdoor wedding! But many people on both sides were not very familiar with Jewish traditions, and all seemed grateful for the explanations I provided. I look forward to more such happy occasions.

A Wealthy Beggar

September 30, 2009 by Rabbi Shai Specht   Comments (0)

kabbalah, wisdom, interfaith

One day, Sam, a poor man came home from work tired and exhausted. He begged The Creator for just a little treasure. All of a sudden, Sam noticed a little purse lying near his feet. A heavenly voice said to him: "Take this purse as a gift from Creator. You will find a single coin inside, and the moment you take it out, another coin will take its place - until you throw the purse into the river. The moment you spend the first coin, the purse will lose its magic powers." By that evening, Sam had succeeded in gathering a full sack of coins from the purse, but there was no bread left in the house, because he would not spend a single coin to buy food for himself. "I will gather another sack of money, and only then throw the purse into the river and begin to spend the coins." That day Sam asked a neighbor for bread and on the following day he went out to beg for bread in the streets, because, as he said, "It won’t do me any harm if I fill another sack with coins before I spend the money and throw the wonderful purse into the river." And so he continued to beg for bread and to gather coins until the end of his days, never spending anything because he did not want to part with his wonderful purse. Sam died a very rich man and his home was filled with sacks of coins - but he died still a poor beggar.

Sam did not realize that in order to truly change his life, he needed more than just money and material possessions. He failed to realize that what he really needed was a different outlook, a change of direction. Even when his wishes/prayers were answered, he was "stuck" in a rut and couldn't see beyond his negative feelings of fear, greed, the self perception that he was nothing but a poor beggar.

Often, like Sam, we don't realize our potential and strengths. We wish to have this, and hope to become that. Then, when our prayers are answered, we forget to enjoy what we have. As a result, we keep it all to ourselves and forget to share with world.

It's easy to get caught up in negativity and self loathing, sometimes it may even give us comfort. But consider this; instead of thinking about what you're missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing. The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible. The difference between can and cannot are only three letters. Three letters that determine your life's direction.

Share your inner light without fear and or doubt. Light is good from whatever lamp it shines.

Wake up & Hear the Shofar!

September 15, 2009 by Rabbi Shai Specht   Comments (0)

rosh hashanah, yom kippur, High Holidays, peace, Love, interfaith

Wake up & Hear the Shofar!

Exodus 19:19:
וַֽיְהִי֙ ק֣וֹל הַשֹּׁפָ֔ר הוֹלֵ֖ךְ וְחָזֵ֣ק מְאֹ֑ד מֹשֶׁ֣ה יְדַבֵּ֔ר וְהָֽאֱלֹהִ֖ים יַֽעֲנֶ֥נּוּ בְקֽוֹל
And when the voice of the shofar sounded long, and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and Creator answered him by a voice.

The sound of the shofar at the giving of the Torah has never ended. It continues and becomes stronger from generation to generation. It calls upon Israel and the people of the nations of the world to fulfill the commandments of Creator, to be loving and kind, which gladden the heart and enlighten the eyes.

This year especially, let us use the sound of the Shofar as a wakeup call - a way to bring us back to civility and compassion, love and light. Let us reach out to those in need; those in physical need and those who need our extra love and support emotionally.

The time has come for us to stop labeling people as “this” or “that,” and start putting ourselves in the other’s shoes. Love does not discriminate and neither should we! The Almighty created each and every one of us as we need to be (in the Divine image). We need to embrace diversity and realize that true/pure love has no boundaries.

Let the Shofar remind us that we should Never under estimate the power of love & light. A little word of encouragement, a hug, a smile, are just a few of the actions we can take to make someone else’s life better and ultimately enrich our own journey. Hot heads and cold hearts never solved anything, so think before you say something or take action. Survival requires a source of self-respect, self-awareness, and self-honesty. Find a balance point before reaching out, and fill your heart with warmth, passion and compassion.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev said: “Some people hear the shofar of Rosh Hashanah all year, and some hear the sound of the shofar which was blown when the Torah was given all the days of their lives.”

Let us stop hitting the snooze button any longer so that we may fully experience the joys of living in peace and harmony as brothers and sisters.
May the voice of the shofar become louder and louder, and may we Wake Up to a brighter more loving day.

Remember us in Life, Ruler who creates our lives; inscribe us in The Book of Life, Creator of Life.

A time for Reflection and Soul searching

August 25, 2009 by Rabbi Shai Specht   Comments (0)

Elul, reflection, high holidays interfaith, Love

The Maharal of Prague said, "All the month of Elul, before eating and sleeping, a person should look into her/his soul and search her/his deeds, that he may make confession."

As we approach the Jewish High Holidays, we spend some time reviewing the past year. Where am I on the path of spiritual transformation? Am I still as passionate about it as I was when I first began the journey? It's easy for us to fall into patterns of routine and to become bored, even when it concerns bettering ourselves and our world.

All too often we tend to focus on what we don't have, rather than the beautiful things we do. See the things you take for granted just as you did in the beginning - before you got used to them and forgot they were there...
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile.
This is something we can do year round; soul searching helps us grow and develop spiritually.

The Divine Being understands our prayers even when we can't find the words to say them.
Peace on the outside comes from knowing Shekhinah on the outside.
When we lose God it is not God that is lost.
Availability is better than ability for Hashem.
Exercise daily, walk with The Light!
Darkness cannot put out the light; it can only make The One brighter.
Weave in faith and Creator will find the thread.

Welcome to InterfaithFamily!

We want to know what you think of our resources. Take our User Survey now through November 22, 2013 and enter to win a $500 American Express gift card!