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New Non-Profit Created to Encourage Jewish Choices in Interfaith Families

February 1, 2002 (Newton, Mass.) - Jewish Family & Life!, Inc., the trailblazing producer of online Jewish living and learning content, is pleased to announce the successful spin-off of InterfaithFamily.com to a new non-profit, InterfaithFamily.com, Inc.

"InterfaithFamily.com, Inc. is dedicated to encouraging Jewish choices in interfaith families," said Edmund Case, president and publisher of the new non-profit. "That is a mission big enough and important enough to be served by an independent, totally focused organization." "We are gratified to have incubated IFF to the point that it is viable as a self-supporting company," said Yosef I. Abramowitz, CEO of JFL. "JFL will continue to address the important interfaith family market through a close affiliation relationship with InterfaithFamily.com," he added, "which will also enable IFF to continue to offer its readers connections to the wide range of Jewish living and learning content."

Encouraging Jewish choices by interfaith families and for their children "requires work in two directions," said Case. "First, interfaith families need to be encouraged to engage in Jewish life. We will do that through InterfaithFamily.com, our online magazine and community. We intend to reorganize and expand IFF's offerings, making it the online resource that provides interfaith families exploring Jewish life with all of the welcoming and helpful information they want and need."

InterfaithFamily.com--under the direction of Editor Ronnie Friedland, who will continue with the new company--has already assembled the broadest archive of writing about interfaith family issues available anywhere. In November 2001, Jewish Lights Publishing published an anthology of some of IFF's best content, The Guide to Jewish Interfaith Family Life: An InterfaithFamily.com Handbook, which has been praised as "invaluable for interfaith couples and indispensable for all who seek to welcome them into Jewish life."

Currently attracting 10,000 unique users and 25,000 visitor sessions a month, Case said, "We want to reach many more people--and we hope that in addition to reading information on our site, that they will want to make connections in their local communities." To that end, with initial funding provided by Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston, IFF developed its "Interfaith Family Connections in Your Area" section, which offers current, continually updated listings of outreach programs and welcoming organizations in several local communities. "Thanks to a recent generous grant from the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund, we are now in a position to expand 'Connections in Your Area' to cover the entire country," Case said.

"Encouraging interfaith families to engage in Jewish life will not be successful if Jewish leaders and institutions are critical or rejecting," Case said. "That's why the second focus of our work is to encourage the Jewish community to be genuinely welcoming and inclusive of interfaith families. That is the goal of the new membership association, The InterfaithFamily.com Network, that IFF is creating with recent generous funding from the Walter & Elise Haas Fund. The Network will expand on our previous advocacy work by developing recommended policies and practices, publicizing them, and working to persuade Jewish leaders and organizations to adopt them."

IFF enjoys and will strengthen cooperative relationships with the Reform Movement's Outreach Department, the Jewish Outreach Institute, the National Stepping Stones Institute, and numerous rabbis, educators and outreach workers. "How the Jewish community responds to intermarriage is as important an issue as any other the community faces," Case said. "We intend to have a leading role, working together with others, to insure that that response is a positive one."

In addition to Case and Abramowitz, InterfaithFamily.com's Board of Directors includes Jim Ball, Todd Blue, best-selling author Anita Diamant, Esta Epstein, Gary Furst, Kenneth Grandberg, Elizabeth Kelly, Lydia Kukoff (the first national outreach director of the Reform Movement), Ginny MacDowell (New England Regional Chair of the Anti-Defamation League), Rabbi Bernard Mehlman (emeritus rabbi of Temple Israel of Boston), Arthur Obermayer and Batya Olsen.

Jewish Family & Life!/JFL Media's (JFL) mission is to spark and nurture Jewish identity and build interactive Jewish communities by providing access to multimedia resources and tools to the global Jewish community and to those interested in a Jewish way of life. The JFL media network includes titles such as JewishFamily.com, SocialAction.com,  and Sh'ma. JFL is partners with the Jewish Television Network on JewZ.com, the Nash Family Foundation and JESNA on JSkyway (providing online professional development for the Jewish community), the AVI CHAI Foundation on BabagaNewz and Hebrew College on MyJewishLearning (an adult educational learning portal scheduled for debut September 2002).

InterfaithFamily.com's mission is to encourage Jewish choices in interfaith families. It produces the online magazine and community InterfaithFamily.com, the online resource that provides interfaith families exploring Jewish life with all of the welcoming and helpful information they want and need. It is also creating The InterfaithFamily.com Network, the membership association that will advocate to make the Jewish community genuinely welcoming and inclusive of interfaith families.

A language of West Semitic origins, culturally considered to be the language of the Jewish people. Ancient or Classical Hebrew is the language of Jewish prayer or study. Modern Hebrew was developed in the late-19th and early 20th centuries as a revival language; today it is spoken by most Israelis.
Reform synagogues are often called "temple." "The Temple" refers to either the First Temple, built by King Solomon in 957 BCE in Jerusalem, or the Second Temple, which replaced the First Temple and stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem from 516 BCE to 70 CE.
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