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April 10, 2007 eNewsletter


 Web Magazine

April 10, 2007

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Dear friend,

As much as our own religious practice may depart from that of our parents, when a loved one dies, tradition calls. But how do you reconcile your own beliefs and practice with the rituals you know your loved one would want? If you've converted, how do you appropriately grieve for a dead parent? We explore these questions from a variety of perspectives in our new Web Magazine issue on Death and Mourning .

We have a new original reported feature on the growing complexity of mourning in interfaith families, from a Jewish widow having a rabbi and priest co-officiate at her non-Jewish husband's funeral to a convert adding her Christian mother's name to a yahrzeit list. Read more in Lisa Friedman's Death in the Interfaith Family .

There is no greater pain than losing your children. Pam Chernoff lost two of them. Read her poignant story in From Joy to Grief .

Johanna Karasik is the child of an interfaith family and was raised Jewish, but her grandmother was a devout Catholic. None of her aunts and uncles are religious but they still all gathered in a cathedral for a full Catholic service. It made her wonder, Who Is the Funeral for: The Dead or the Living?

While with her dying mother, Kathy Miller emulated her parents' Protestant, Pennsylvania Dutch stoicism. In private, she ranted and cried. Read more in the poignant Saying Kaddish at My Mother's Christian Memorial Service .

How do you mourn for someone who never loved you, wonders Milly Dawson in Making Peace with the Dead .

In teaching a course on intermarriage to Jewish grandparents in the Catskills, Terry McGrath doesn't hear debates about whether non-Jews should be buried in Jewish cemeteries. Rather, they're all wondering: Will my intermarried children be buried in The Family Plot ?

Judith van Praag, the child of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, shares the details of her mother's beautiful burial in A White Shroud , an audio interview with Ronnie Friedland.


Can interfaith partners be buried in Jewish cemeteries? Can they be buried side-by-side, or must non-Jews be in a different section? Sue Fishkoff explores the complexity of Jewish burial in After Death Do Us Part? and Arlene Fine looks at synagogues' policies toward burial in Grave Challenges

In Los Angeles last year, a Jewish cemetery launched a clever marketing campaign to the intermarried. Read more in Billboard Mystery Ends with Interfaith Twist .

Additional Resources

For more resources on death and mourning in an interfaith family, visit our Death and Mourning Resource Page .

Arts and Entertainment

In Interfaith Celebrities , Nate Bloom talks about his "hero," Shia LaBeouf (Holes, I, Robot), whose mother is Jewish and whose father is a non-Jewish recovering drug addict, as well as two of the richest young stars: Amanda Bynes and Daniel Radcliffe.


Ever wonder what the heck Kabbalah is? After reading Kabbalah for Dummies, Rebecca Gopoian is still wondering. Read her review .

What's New on the Blogs

On the IFF Network Blog, we recently wrote about a Boston-based workshop on interfaith death and mourning and Newsweek's list ofAmerica's top 50 rabbis .

On the Weddings Blog, Julie writes about the anxiety of being a non-Jew at the Passover seder and Bryan wonders why finding a rabbi for their wedding was so difficult .

Coming Next

Our next issue, on Communication in Interfaith Relationships, will be published
April 24.


Micah Sachs, Online Managing Editor

Write for Us!

We're looking for writers on the following topics:

  • Weddings
  • Blended families
  • High Holidays
  • Interfaith grandparenting

Interested in any of these topics? Contact Web Magazine Editor Ronnie Friedland at .



Network News

The Passover/Easter Survey in the News's 2007 Passover/Easter Survey  has gotten a lot of press. The survey was mentioned in a New York Times article, "A Difficult Journey of Devotion to One Faith and to a Spouse of Another Faith." The JTA's story on the survey  was reprinted in the Baltimore Jewish Times, New Jersey Jewish NewsConnecticut Jewish Ledger and other publications. Barbara Meltz, parenting columnist for The Boston Globe , also wrote about the survey in her blog, Child Caring .

Congratulations to the Winner of our Passover/Easter Survey Drawing

Congratulations to Nicole Zappala, of San Francisco, winner of the drawing for the $250 American Express giftcard after filling out the Passover/Easter Survey.

Workshops in Philadelphia and Boston

President Ed Case spoke about recent intermarriage research and parenting in an interfaith family at the Interfaith Family Weekend and Conference in Philadelphia on March 25. The conference was sponsored by Faithways, the outreach arm of Jewish Family and Children's Service. Ronnie Friedland attended Comforting the Bereaved: Issues of Loss and Mourning in the Interfaith Family, a workshop from the Outreach Training Institute of the Union for Reform Judaism Northeast Council , in Newton, Mass., on March 28. Read about it on the IFF Network Blog .

PAC Speaks with JTA Reporter

The March 26 quarterly conference call of our Professionals Advisory Circle  featured a presentation by JTA reporter Sue Fishkoff on her recent series on the adult children of intermarriage. PAC members can access the call by clicking here and logging in.

Ways You Can Get Involved

Join the Discussion. We want to know: Is it OK to sit shiva for a non-Jewish partner or parent?

Support Us.  If what we do helps you or others you care about, please make a tax-deductible charitable contribution in support of our work.


Spread the Word.  Ask your friends to subscribe to our  eNewsletter --the more people we reach, the better!




Hebrew for "time of [one] year," referring to the anniversary of the day of a relative's death. Hebrew for "my master," the term refers to a spiritual leader and teacher of Torah. Often, but not always, a rabbi is the leader of a synagogue congregation. Hebrew for "seven," refers to the seven days of mourning following the funeral of a family member.
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