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January 10, 2012 eNewsletter - Chicago

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Featured Organization from Our Network

Oak Park Temple, a Reform congregation, is an affirming, caring community that takes great pride in providing a warm and welcoming experience for all. Join them on January 29 for a special opportunity to hear Anita Diamant, best-selling author, speak in an interview format.

January 10, 2012

Dear friend,

Our first programs in Chicago start soon! If you're interested in learning more, see details below; if you know anybody in Chicagoland who might be, please forward this email to them.


We're excited to tell you about the first workshop and class InterfaithFamily/Chicago will be offering this year: Love and Religion — Online and Raising a Child with Judaism in your Interfaith Family!

  • Love and Religion — Online is a four-session workshop for interfaith couples who are seriously dating or newly married, on exploring the issue of religion in their relationships. The workshop runs four weeks; the first session is in person, February 1, with the remaining three online.
  • Raising a Child with Judaism in Your Interfaith Family is 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.

For more details, to see publicity flyers you can share with friends and organizations or for blurbs to include in your own emails, read more in Two Exciting New Programs in Chicagoland.

Not sure if the workshop or class are for you or someone you know? Ari Moffic blogged about two scenarios that have come up as she's been talking to different people about both of these programs. Some folks are replying that they "don't get it" or "don't need it" while others are responding that they are "not religious, but spiritual." For these folks, Ari has some good answers, showing how this class and workshop can still be relevant. Read more in Is This You?

In addition to all the content of our national eNewsletter, you're now receiving highlighted local content — we've started local editions, where we will be focusing on your local community. In between our eNewsletters, feel free to get in touch with Ari Moffic, the Director of InterfaithFamily/Chicago, and check out more local content on the Chicagoland Community Page — and get to know your community!

Spring Holidays

Next month is a Jewish holiday that celebrates trees! Tu Bishvat is a great one to celebrate with your community, and our new booklet can tell you how. With information on the history of the holiday, activities for young kids and ideas for hosting a Tu Bishvat seder, this booklet is for everyone! Read more in Tu Bishvat: the greening of Judaism.

Although spring and the Jewish holidays it brings are months away, Josh Bob reminds us that it's never too early for a Caribbean-inspired song about Passover or the Purim tale of a heroic queen who stood up to her king and saved the Jews of ancient Persia. Read more in Spring Holiday Books for Kids.

Welcoming Communities

Years ago, as a youth director, Rebecca Rolnick realized that several kids from interfaith families did not attend the Reform youth group's Winter Institute. Several others had special allowances to leave for a few hours on Christmas Eve. Recognizing that the youth movement should be role models, she encouraged the teens to change the dates of their convention. Read more in Raising Consciousness about Interfaith Issues within One Jewish Organization.

For the first 25 years of his career, Rabbi Mark Schiftman would not co-officiate weddings with clergy from other religions. Then something changed... One conversation made all the difference, and his position evolved. Read more in How Rabbi's Views on Interfaith Weddings Evolved.

One of our readers wanted to make sure I (and through me, all of you) saw a blog post that was part of the Reform movement's "Spotlight on Welcoming Interfaith" campaign. The original author wrote about feeling like an outsider as a non-Jewish parent raising a Jewish family, and how her community helped her feel included. Read more in Welcoming Communities.

December Holidays

In the lead-up to the December holidays, we posted two opposing articles, one in favor of Chrismukkah, the other against. The first: why Chrismukkah is a great idea! Ron Gompertz says it leads people to be open-minded, and is a way "to break down barriers that separate us... it celebrates what we have in common rather than what makes us different." The second: in opposition to Chrismukkah. Ed Case explains that the blended celebration of Chanukah and Christmas loses the significance of these two very different holidays; combining them eliminates the integrity of each. What are your thoughts? What did your family do? Read more in Imagine... It's Chrismukkah Time Again! and I Still Say 'Chrismukkah' is a Bad Idea.

On the blog, I posted a video of a song about compromise during the December Holidays. I liked it, though the word "proselytize" made me squirm a little. What do you think? Read more in December Compromise Song.

And Ed Case wrote a review of the season's different talking points, debates, and opinions pertaining to Christmas, Hanukkah, and the overlap for interfaith families. Read more in Reflecting on December 2011.


On the Parenting Blog, Ketura shares the stark facts about the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country from which her adoption is supposed to happen. And, because of these facts, the juggling of other options she must continue to keep in mind. Read more in The Facts on the Ground.

On The Hitch, the wedding blog, Yolanda and Arel are back with another video post. This time about hair and style options. Advice is especially welcomed as their big day draws ever nearer (it's this month!). Read (and watch) more in Video 11: wedding hair.

Ed Case wrote on the Network Blog, "‎I specifically remember a man I didn't know stopping by our booth and starting to talk. It was the start of a wonderful and sustaining relationship with Newt Becker, who sadly died two days ago." Read more in Remembering Newt Becker.

And also on the Network Blog, Ed posted about Elana (one of our Parenting Bloggers), who was recognized by the Jewish Ledger for her work coordinating outreach programs specifically for interfaith families and couples. Check out this "2011 Mover and Shaker"! Read more in A Mover and Shaker.

Pop Culture

In his regular column, Nate Bloom takes a look at the interfaith and Jewish nominees for this year's Golden Globe awards. And, as a bonus, introduces two new sitcoms starting this month. 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





Hebrew for "15th of [the month of] Shevat," both a date and the name of a holiday celebrated on that date. A holiday that falls in January or February, it's the New Year for trees. 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. 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.
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