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August 15, 2006 eNewsletter


 Web Magazine

August 15, 2006

Dear friend

When you get married, you don't just gain a partner, you gain a family--whether you like it or not. Handling relatives who don't share your or your partner's faith can be one of the biggest challenges facing interfaith couples. In the new issue of our Web Magazine on Dealing with Non-Jewish Relatives, we explore a variety of perspectives, from Jewish parents of Christian kids to interfaith couples negotiating their families' competing demands for a bris and a baptism. 

When an Italian Catholic grandma buys her Jewish granddaughter a Star of David necklace, a whole family learns a lesson about unconditional love and support. In A Grandmother's Gift , Ellen S. Glazer wonders whether she could do the same thing if the religions were reversed.

In Rabbi Diane Cohen's case, the religions are reversed, but not just for her grandchildren, for her children too. When two of her three sons become Christian, Cohen is at a loss. Find out how Cohen copes, in When a Child Converts .

When Leona Junguzza, a former Jehovah's Witness, converts to Judaism, her grown children asked the big question: How can you deny that Jesus is the Messiah? She was ready with an answer, and they've grown to enjoy seders and menorah-lightings at their mom's house, in the life-affirming Homecomings .

"Being interfaith in Israel has a strange dissonance," says Esther Shchory. "Most of the time the fact that I have Christian relatives seems irrelevant to my life... Then we approach the 24th of December and my mother asks when my children will be free to come and decorate the tree." Read more in Are We Still an Interfaith Family?

Many Jews, even non-religious ones, view a bris as an essential component of a newborn boy's introduction to the world. But the families of non-Jewish partners often wonder why anyone would want to celebrate something as painful as circumcision--especially if it means the baby won't be baptized. Julie Wiener dissects the issue in Making the Cut .

Wondering how to celebrate Judaism while being respectful of your non-Jewish relatives? We dip into our Article Archives for a series of tips from outreach expert Karen Kushner. Read her suggestions in Living Well in the Extended Interfaith Family .

For additional resources on dealing with non-Jewish relatives, check out our Marriage and Relationships Resource Page .

What do you think? Join the discussion  as we ask, "Do your relatives pressure you or your children to observe another faith?"

Also in This Issue

After converting to Judaism, Pam Waechter became a vital member of the Jewish community, variously serving as Jewish outreach coordinator, temple president and, finally, director of annual giving at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, where she was killed on July 28 by a gunman. Read more about this remarkable woman in Rebecca Spence's obituary .

A new Mother's Circle, a program teaching non-Jewish moms how to make a Jewish home, has sprung up in Connecticut. Read more in Lessons in Jewish Ways .

Wondering what God looks like? Ask a nine-year-old girl. Read about Jim Keen's enlightening conversation with his daughter in Dad, Daughter, Dog and a Talk about God .

Carol Weiss Rubel grew up attending Mass, but also watched her Jewish father mark yarzheit and go to synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. After spending her formative years as a Catholic--and meeting a wonderful Jewish man--she decides to adopt her father's faith. Read more in Rocking the Cradle: A Mid-Life Conversion Story .

A Jewish woman falls in love with a Palestinian man. It sounds like the premise to a bad joke, but Michael Fox says it makes a good movie, in his review  of the new Spanish comedy Only Human .

Extra, Extra, Now We're Printable!

We're excited to announce that you can print the entire issue of our Web Magazine by clicking on the "Print entire issue" link on the upper righthand corner of the Web Magazine. To print the new issue, click here .

Coming Next

We'll return on August 29 with our issue on What to Do When You Hear Negative Things about Intermarriage.


Micah Sachs, Online Managing Editor

Write for Us!

We're looking for writers on the following topics:

  • December holidays
  • Jewish preschools

Please share your interfaith family's experiences with the December holidays or Jewish preschools.

If you're interested in writing on either topic, contact Web Magazine Editor Ronnie Friedland at .

Connections In Your Area--Featured Event

Bringing Shabbat Home

Hands on Judaism presents "Bringing Shabbat Home," a parent-child craft and learning experience. Bring your preschool-aged children to make Shabbat items to last a lifetime. The program will also include how-to information for creating your own family Shabbat celebration. This is a free event taking place on five different days, but space is limited, so reserve your spot by contacting Debbie Antonoff, at (678) 948-4008,

To learn more about this event, click here. To learn more about the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, click here.


Network News

Our Condolences to the Family and Friends of Pam Waechter

The outreach community was deeply saddened by the death of Pam Waechter, a colleague who had served as outreach coordinator to the intermarried at Seattle's Jewish Family Service. She was killed by a gunman at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on July 28. We hope that the memories of this remarkable woman comfort you during this difficult time.

Check Out Our First Blog!

We are excited to announce our first blog, Peace Within These Walls , written by Rachel Freedenberg, a religiously observant Jewish woman who's dating the atheist son of devout Christians. If they can make it work, anybody can.

We're Looking for Your Birth Ceremony Ideas is creating a resource on birth ceremonies for interfaith families. Send us your ideas for readings, prayers or other rituals that can be used at baby-naming ceremonies or the bris or simchat bat, and you'll be entered into a drawing for a $100 giftcard from Barnes and Noble or BookSense. Please email your suggestions to Receives $25,000 Grant


We're extremely pleased and grateful to the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation for their grant of $25,000 to support a conference of our Professionals Advisory Circle.

Ways You Can Get Involved

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.


Join Our Discussions.  We want to know what you think--and it's easy to tell us!

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




Hebrew for "Head of the Year," the Jewish New Year. With Yom Kippur, known as the High Holy Days. Known in Hebrew as "magen David" (literally," shield of David"), it is more commonly recognized as the star of David, a six-point star. The symbol has origins in the Torah, and has been used as a symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism in Europe since the Middle Ages. Hebrew for "daughter's celebration," a modern term for a naming ceremony for baby girls. Derived from the Greek word for "assembly," a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogue refers to both the room where prayer services are held and the building where it occurs. In Yiddish, "shul." Reform synagogues are often called "temple." Hebrew for "candelabrum" or "lamp," it usually refers to the nine-branched candelabrum that is lit for the holiday of Hanukkah. (A seven-branched candelabrum, a symbol of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, is a symbol of Judaism and is included in Israel's coat of arms.) The Jewish Sabbath, from sunset on Friday to nightfall on Saturday. 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. 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 "covenant," often referring to the ritual for Jewish boys when they are 8 days old ("brit milah" - "covenant of circumcision"). It is commonly known as "bris," which is the Ashkenazi or Yiddish pronunciation of "brit."
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