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December 24, 2012 eNewsletter - Chicago

December 24, 2012
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Dear Friends,
It's our last eNewsletter of 2012, and we hope that you'll find the content helpful, interesting, and thought-provoking as we finish the December holidays and move into 2013. If even one article makes you pause this week, or you've enjoyed content from eNewsletters past, please include InterfaithFamily in your year-end charitable giving. Every recipient of this message making a $5 contribution would add up to a big help, keeping our non-profit's resources freely available for all.

InterfaithFamily/Chicago is doing a monthly drawing to reward one of our Network members. In December, January, and February, lucky Network members will each win a $25 American Express giftcard! You must be a member of the Network to qualify. Join here! And forward this to your friends so they can join too!
December Holidays
Want to find out how others approach the December holidays? With Christmas tomorrow, do you have some last minute questions? Check out our December Holiday discussion boards.

Raquel Stabinski-Leib's son intermarried. For this Jewish mother, there was no way she was going to his home for Christmas. But after a little apprehension... Read more in My First Christmas Eve Dinner at My Son's Home.

How do interfaith families decide whether to have a Christmas tree? Does it depend on whether you are religiously observant of Judaism? Of Christianity? Does it bother the Jewish partner to have one, or the partner from another faith not to have one? It's not an elephant in the room — it's just a little pine tree. Want to talk about it? Try our discussion packet for interfaith couples. Read more in Oh Christmas Tree: A Discussion Packet.

At Christmastime, these righteous and generous partners in our midst are reminded of what they have given up. This year, Rabbi Erin Polansky encourages us to acknowledge their contribution to strengthening our people. Let's remember to say thank you, not to take their involvement for granted. Read more in We Should Acknowledge Their Sacrifice.

Rachel Mauro grew up in an interfaith family. Though she didn't realize it as a child, spending Christmas each year with her parents' friends, a Christian family and an Orthodox Jewish family, was a positive experience. Read more in Christmas with Christians and Jews.

Ruth Nemzfoff wrote a guest blog post about the December holidays and applying the season's meanings to other parts of our lives (like winter weddings!). Read more in White Poinsettias and Blue Foil.

If Hanukkah is a holiday about resisting assimilation, what does it mean to elevate it to Christmas-like stature? Stacie Garnett-Cook wonders on the blog. Read more in Hanukkah Is Not The Jewish Christmas.
Pop Culture
It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas. And many of the season's biggest (or, depending on your seasonal appreciation, most annoying) hits were written by Jewish songwriters. Nate Bloom gives you the scoop on the Jewish writers, composers, and performers of the holiday's biggest songs. Read more in The Jews Who Wrote Christmas Songs (2012).

And, as a bonus, don't forget to return to Nate Bloom's first edition of The Jews Who Wrote Christmas Songs column from 2006, updated this year with additional information.
Weekly Torah
Last time, Nechama Tamler introduced us to Joseph (think "and the amazing, technicolor..."), his brothers, and going to Egypt, the first of three Torah portions that focus on the drama/saga of Joseph. Now we catch up with the remaining two installments:
  • This week's Torah portion is "the second of three that follow the story of Joseph. Which makes [it] sort of like the Empire Strikes Back of Torah portions." It begins in prison, ends with a cliff hanger, and in between there's family drama, deceit, and oh so many tricks. We're left mid conversation, wanting more... Read (and watch) more in Joseph: The Good, The Bad, The Tricky.
  • We take up the story in the middle of that conversation, Judah's heartfelt and poignant speech to save his youngest brother. The drama! The big reveal! The tears! The hugs! There's so much happening in this week's Torah portion. Read (and watch) more in Joseph's Big Reveal.

You've been following the Animated Torahlog, the biblical, drama-filled blog by our friends at G-dcast, right? I know you love how the posts also relate to our lives and interests; they often include music videos, poems, and/or visual art, and they always include questions about how these topics and themes relate to our lives today, in 2012. But if you’ve been wanting to read ahead, Get Some Torah In Your Pocket!
In the wake of the tragedy in Connecticut, Wendy Armon blogged about how she helps her children through difficult times. Read more in The Power of Prayer — Helping Children Through Anxiety and Stress.

Two new additions to the Parenting Blog team! With their first posts, say hello to and welcome Melissa and Warren!
Are you a recently engaged interfaith couple with an interest in blogging for us? Or do you have an interesting story to share about a life-cycle event? About your extended (uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, grandparents, grandchildren) interfaith family? Are you LGBT and in an interfaith family? If so, I'd love to hear your story pitches! Contact me!
Benjamin Maron,
Director of Content and Educational Resources
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December Holidays
Pop cultre
Weekly Torah
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A member of the Jewish clergy who leads a congregation in songful prayer. ("Hazzan" in Hebrew.) 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.
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. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), or the scroll that contains them.
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