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February 7, 2012 eNewsletter - Boston

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February 7, 2012

Dear friends,

At, we're busy preparing for Tu Bishvat, our first workshop for interfaith couples in Chicagoland is off to a great start, we're ramping up for our first online/in-person class there, and already have an eye on Purim and Passover resources. It may just be February, but we're already thinking about the spring!

News from IFF

We're excited to tell you about the first hybrid online/in-person class InterfaithFamily/Chicago will be offering this year: Raising a Child with Judaism in your Interfaith Family! A one-of-a-kind, eight-session class for interfaith parents thinking about whether and how to bring Judaism to their home, their lives and their parenting. This class runs February 27 through April 27. Encourage your friends in Chicagoland to register now!

On the blog, Ed Case shared two exciting news stories: the Natan Fund has awarded a renewal grant for 2012; and Chicago's JUF News gave a glowing report of our InterfaithFamily/Chicago program. Read more in Good News (x2) for InterfaithFamily.

Tu Bishvat

Tu Bishvat is tomorrow, February 8. If you're looking for ways to celebrate the New Year for Trees, but haven't made plans yet, our Tu Bishvat Resource Page can help. Filled with ideas for creating your own festive meal or seder, booklets and a video that explain the holiday and its significance, and more, it can quickly get you ready in time for tomorrow's holiday.

Our reviews of kids' books, perfect for reading on Tu Bishvat — or anytime you want to think about the environment, nature, and our responsibility to the planet — help you introduce children to the holiday. Read more in Reading With Kids: Tu Bishvat.

"Today's environmental threats," writes Richard H. Schwartz, "can be compared in many ways to the Ten Plagues, which appear in the Torah portions read on the Sabbath days immediately preceding Tu Bishvat." Learn more about the ways we can incorporate environmental observances in to our lives. Read more in It's Time to Employ Judaism to Speak for the World's Trees.

And on the blog, a whole bunch more including the crusade for proper spelling of "Tu Bishvat" in English. Read more in The Trees Are Coming!


I blogged about a recent poll that found that most Israelis thought Israel should keep Diaspora Jews in mind when creating policies, especially as they address questions of "who is a Jew?" Could you imagine what would happen if we all contacted Israelis and encouraged them to accept interfaith families as "Jews," all conversions as "acceptable"? Read more in We Have a Say in Israel?

On the blog, Ari Moffic shared thoughts from the Chicagoland workshop for Jewish educators that she and Karen Kushner hosted. What does it mean for the American Jewish community to be inclusive of interfaith families in their religious schools? Read more in Be a Fly On the Wall: Hear What Jewish Leaders Talk About.


After coming out, Cynthia Kalish felt distanced from the Judaism she loved. But with her partner, raising their daughter, she's rediscovered her love for her religion. Read more in Interfaith Gay Parenting.

Rabbi Daniel Kohn wrote about his family. "All of the public attention we garner and the secret worries I harbor might be a lot to handle were it not for the fact that such public scrutiny and continual soul-searching ensures that we cherish the incomparable gift of our daughter every day. It constantly reminds us of the challenges — and blessings — of being Jewish, being adoptive parents, and being a multicultural family." Read more in The Blessings of Jewish Interracial Adoption.

"As a parent, you never know the unintended benefits of signing your kids up for extra-curricular activities," but who knew they'd lead to a field trip to a Jewish day school? Elana MacGilpin shared her thoughts on the Parenting Blog. Read more in Bring a Friend to School Day.

I blogged about a conversation that the AVI CHAI Foundation started, wondering what barriers are standing between families and Jewish day schools. What factors would you consider when deciding whether or not to send your child to a day school? Read more in Interfaith Families and Jewish Day Schools.


Arel and Yolanda are back on the Wedding Blog, encouraging you to talk about the "marriage," not just the "wedding," before you even get engaged. Read (and watch) more in Video 12: working on the marriage not just the wedding.

And our wedding bloggers followed up with another video post, introducing their siblings, who played a role in their wedding party. Read (and watch) more in Video 13: meet our bridal party aka our siblings.

On the Parenting Blog, we learned that SLP is Christian. Her husband is Jewish. They're raising Jewish kids. And have just realized they don't want their son, a teenager who is ready to date, intermarrying. Read more in What about the grandkids?

Pop Culture

In his regular column, Nate Bloom looks at the interfaith backgrounds of prominent politicians, connects one politician to a famous actor (via a shared witch hunt ancestor!), updates us on Grammy award nominees and more. Read more in Interfaith Celebrities.

Are you, or is a family member, Hindu, Muslim, Quaker, Buddhist or of another religion/faith with an interesting story to share about a ritual, spring holiday or life-cycle event with your interfaith family or interfaith relationship? I'd love to hear your story pitches! Contact me!

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Benjamin Maron, Managing Editor





The spring holiday commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew name is "Pesach." A member of the Jewish clergy who leads a congregation in songful prayer. ("Hazzan" in Hebrew.) Hebrew for "lots," referring to the lots cast by Haman, the story's antagonist, to determine the date on which to kill the Jewish people. It's a spring holiday commemorating the Jewish people's triumph. The story is told through the biblical Book of Esther; the namesake heroine, a Jewish woman, marries the Persian king. Their interfaith relationship is central to the story. 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.
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