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January 18, 2011 eNewsletter

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Featured Event from Our Network

Wandering or Wondering: Stories of Spiritual Journeys

Pathways: The Interfaith Family Network of Greater Atlanta invites you to an afternoon of story telling with interfaith families. Each story is unique, special and most intriguing. Come hear stories, ask some questions of our panelists and share your story as well. Dessert reception to follow. More details can be found here.


January 18, 2011

Dear friend,

Tomorrow at sunset is the start of a one-day Jewish holiday, Tu Bishvat. It's a bit of an odd one... Probably best known by kids at religious schools for the fruits and nuts they eat, known by environmentalists as the holiday for the trees and known to others as a mystical holiday. While it might be a bit of a mystery, it's also a great one to celebrate because in its multiple identities, there is something for everybody.

Tu Bishvat

Tu Bishvat is an old holiday, millennia old. Over the years, it has come to mean different things to different people. Some call it the birthday or new year of the trees, others blow by it without noticing. Want to learn more about it? What is Tu Bishvat Anyway?

Aaron Kagan, a local foodie in rural Massachusetts, created a Tu Bishvat seder that could include his non-Jewish partner and their Jewish and non-Jewish friends. After all, is there a Jewish holiday more appealing to someone from another faith than Tu Bishvat? Who doesn't want to hang out, have a few drinks and talk about fruit? Read more in Tu Bishvat: Interfaith Friendly, Jewish in Nature.

Still looking for more information about this holiday? On the blog, we looked at the reasons for the various spellings of "Tu Bishvat" and how to celebrate it, including many different seder ideas. Read more in Tu Bishvat.

Popular Culture

In his bi-weekly column, Nate Bloom offers up the inside scoop on a rash of recent split ups and divorces, from Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman to Mila Kunis and Macaulay Culkin. Read more in Interfaith Celebrities.

Life Cycle Events

As Cantor Ronald Broden points out, "Especially with the increase in interfaith marriages, the choice to send a child to a religious not an easy one to make.... Parents often choose to maintain religious traditions associated with the holidays at home, instead of sending kids to school to learn about them." And this can impact having a bar/bat mitzvah in a synagogue. Read more in A Bar and Bat Mitzvah Alternative.

It's been a while, but we're happy to announce the return of The Hitch, our wedding blog. Our newly engaged bloggers, Mia and Ethan, will soon start blogging about their plans for their wedding, the decisions they're making about religious elements, and more. (I personally hope that Ethan's step-father, a rabbi, will chime in...) Read more in Introducing Our New Couple!!

On a more somber note, we blogged about the passing of Debbie Friedman, z"l, whose music made Judaism more accessible and welcoming to many in our community. Read more in Debbie Friedman z"l.

Interfaith Families

Galit Breen wrote an article, originally titled "Why We're Not An Interfaith Family, And Why We Are." When Galit met her husband ten years ago, he was a Catholic boy from the Midwest. He was the "Epilogue" of her thesis. Read more in I'll Conversion Talk If I Want To.

On the blog, we wrote about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who comes from an interfaith background. We looked at her religious background and the choices she made to take on Judaism and then examined why this was newsworthy. Read more in Gabrielle Giffords and A Shame That It Takes a Tragedy.

Do you have an interesting story to write for us? You know we're looking for holiday (Purim, Passover and Easter) content and more parents to blog for us, but if you have another idea that you'd like to pitch, feel free to contact me.


Benjamin Maron, Managing Editor | P.O. Box 428, Newton, MA 02464 | 617 581 6860 |

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Hebrew for "daughter of the commandments." In modern Jewish practice, Jewish girls come of age at 12 or 13. When a girl comes of age, she is officially a bat mitzvah and considered an adult. The term is commonly used as a short-hand for the bat mitzvah's coming-of-age ceremony and/or celebration. The male equivalent is "bar mitzvah." 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." 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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