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April 9, 2013 eNewsletter - Philadelphia

April 9, 2013
Dear Friends,
We've made it past Passover! We now get a bit of a break before the next major holiday, Shavuot. Of course, it'd be too easy to just enjoy the downtime, so there are a few minor holidays along the way. And, the whole period between Passover and Shavuot is known as the Omer. Not sure what the Omer is? Luckily, Drew Barrymore and her partner, Will Kopelman, helped explain it last year. While some of us count the days until Shavuot, enjoy spring and all the great resources in this newsletter!
Would you like to make sure your organization is sensitive to interfaith family issues? Do you worry that your community says it's friendly to interfaith couples, but there are gaps in your engagement plan? InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia will provide your community with a free sensitivity training. Please contact for more information.

Do you teach at the Folkshul? Join Wendy Armon on April 14 for a conversation with educators: creating a welcoming community for all.

Who's going to LimmudPhilly, April 26-28? Registration for the 5th annual LimmudPhilly Learningfest is now open! We'll be there — say hi. And check out the sessions especially for interfaith couples/families, including two led by InterfaithFamily staff.

Are you interested in classes regarding preparing your interfaith family for bar or bat mitzvahs? Looking for ways to explain what your child is preparing for to your extended family? We can help! Sign up for Preparing for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, an eight-session class for parents who have a 4th-7th grader preparing, whether in the early stages or later stages, for a bar or bat mitzvah. Each weekly session is online with opportunities to meet in-person. The eight-session online class starts soon — register today!

JKidPhilly offers programs for young families in the Philadelphia area. Check out their programs for events near you.
Yesterday was Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). On the Parenting Blog, Melissa wonders how to talk to her kids about the Holocaust in a way that is meaningful and age-appropriate. How does your family understand it? Read more in Yom HaShoah.

Debra B. Darvick shares advice on how parents (Jewish or not) who are raising their children Jewish can answer their children's questions about Jesus. Read more in How to Talk to Your Kids about Jesus.

Rebecca Goodman, Director of InterfaithFamily/San Francisco, writes about a toddler, a patient dog, and a kippah: tales from one Passover seder. Or, behold the power of reading! Read more in The Power of Reading.
It's spring and the world around us is waking up from winter! What makes you take pause and give thanks? Judaism encourages slowing down to appreciate and recognize distinct, special or holy moments, be they religious in nature or every day things. Read more in Jewish Time.

We hear about the "December dilemma" (Christmas and Hanukkah) frequently, but what about the spring dilemma (Passover and Easter)? Is it a big deal for you? Melissa, a Parenting Blogger, doesn't think so... Read more in Easter as a Jewish Convert.

Melissa can't be alone when she writes, "Keeping kosher for Passover is a thing — and some people do it, some don't. My family does. I don't like doing it. I don't agree with the premise, I don't like it. I don't like it, I don't like it, I don't like it." Read more in Passover Is Hard.

Chana-Esther, another Parenting Blogger, has been inspired by a writing challenge on Twitter and Instagram: following daily prompts in the weeks leading up to Passover and blogging about those suggested words. Read more in Asking, Leaving, Counting, Redeeming, Changing, and Being.

Stacie Garnett-Cook shares her family's Passover seder traditions, all of which resonate as symbols of freedom. Read more in A Multilingual, Multicultural Seder Tradition.

Planning a seder for next year? Want to invite someone who's never been to a Passover seder before? Keep InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia's Wendy Armon's blog post bookmarked for next year — it includes great tips on what a first-timer can expect. Read more in Passover Protocol.
I look at an article by Rabbi Mark Miller in which he argues that there are two remaining lines that "cannot be crossed in Reform Judaism." That a "Reform Jew could not legitimately believe in Jesus and a Reform rabbi could not marry a non-Jewish spouse." He believes the debate about allowing intermarried Jews to become rabbis is seriously off-base. What do you think? Read more in Rabbinical Students and Intermarriage.

More on that whole "should rabbis be allowed to intermarry" debate from Ed Case. (Where "more" means "still," since he's been blogging about it since 2009). What do you think — should HUC (the Reform rabbinic school) admit intermarried students who'd like to become rabbis? Read more in Intermarried Rabbis and Intermarriage Attitudes.

Ed Case blogged about a new book by Naomi Schaefer Riley, 'Til Faith Do Us Part, and looks at some of the reviews. The short version: we're not saying you shouldn't read the book, we're just saying it's overly pessimistic. (And maybe embellishes data.) Read more in 'Til Faith Do Us Part.

Why did Rabbi Levin of Kansas City change his stance on officiating at interfaith marriages after 37 years? How did another local rabbi influence his decision (and also start officiating)? Read more in Rabbi Levin to Officiate at Interfaith Weddings.
Animated Weekly Stories
Did you know the ritual in the Passover seder has roots in Leviticus, the third book of the Torah? What rituals do you treasure in your life, and why are they important to you? Read (and watch) more in Ritual Then, Ritual Now.

Have you ever wondered what the kosher (dietary) laws are all about? Watch this G-dcast video (and enjoy the catchy song) to find out! Read (and watch) more in No Good Reason.
Jewish Community
Two of our fantastic board members (Mamie Kanfer Stewart and Lydia Kukoff) write about leadership in the new edition of the Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas! Read more in Leaders By Choice.

Rabbi Adam Chalom writes about Humanistic Judaism, explaining both the basics of the denomination and why his stream of Judaism is a good fit for many interculturual/interfaith couples and families. Read (and watch) more in Humanistic Judaism: Basics & Intercultural/Interfaith Family Appeal.

Rabbi Ari Moffic frequently hears that folks left their synagogues after their bar/bat mitzvah, but are now getting married and looking for a rabbi to officiate. She has an idea for re-connecting them with their synagogues of origin. What do you think? Read more in You Are Wanted!

Rabbi Steven J. Lebow's perspective tutoring a student for his bar mitzvah, and how they worked with his learning styles, is a great reminder that every child is different, has a different story, and a different set of needs. Read more in Bar Mitzvah Preparation for the Learning Disabled Child of an Interfaith Family.
Pop Culture
Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of Boston's Jewish Community Relations Council, guest blogs about the interfaith wedding on SyFy's Being Human. (Warning: spoilers!) Read more in Being Jewish and Being Human.

Jackie Robinson takes the the big screen, Jake Tapper and CNN, and the viral bar mitzvah invitation video. Nate Bloom gives you the scoop in his bi-weekly column. Read (and watch) more in Interfaith Celebrities.
Benjamin Maron,
Director of Content and Educational Resources
 Animated Weekly Stories
 Jewish Community
 Pop Culture
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Hebrew for "son of the commandments." In modern Jewish practice, Jewish boys come of age at 13. When a boy comes of age, he is officially a bar mitzvah and considered an adult. The term is commonly used as a short-hand for the bar mitzvah's coming-of-age ceremony and/or celebration. The female equivalent is "bat mitzvah." Hanukkah (known by many spellings) is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd Century BCE. It is marked by the lighting of a menorah and the eating of fried foods. Plural form of the Hebrew word "mitzvah" which means "commandment," it has two meanings. The first are the commandments given in the Torah. ("You should obey the mitzvah of honoring your parents!") The second is a good deed. ("Helping her carry her groceries home was such a mitzvah!") The spring holiday commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew name is "Pesach." A Summer holiday commemorating the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, it is also known as the Feast of Weeks, as it comes seven weeks after Passover begins. A member of the Jewish clergy who leads a congregation in songful prayer. ("Hazzan" in Hebrew.) Hebrew for "skullcap," also known in Yiddish as a "yarmulke," the small, circular headcovering worn by male Jews in most synagogues, and female Jews in more liberal congregations. Traditional Jews were kippot (plural of kippah) all the time. Hebrew for "fit" (as in, "fit for consumption"), the Jewish dietary laws. 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 "order," refers to the traditional course of events, or service, surrounding the Passover and Tu Bishvat meals. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), or the scroll that contains them. Hebrew term for a unit of dry measure, it was used to measure barley and is sometimes translated as "sheaf" (as in, "sheaf of barley"). Omer now refers to the period of 49 days from Passover to Shavuot. Today, instead of bringing an omer of barley to sacrifice, the days are counted ("counting the Omer"). It's also a period of semi-mourning, when traditional Jews will refrain from partying, dancing, listening to live music, or cutting their hair.
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