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January 22, 2013 eNewsletter - Philadelphia

 
InterFaithFamily
January 22, 2013
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Dear Friends,
This weekend is a Jewish holiday that has come to be seen as the Jewish Earth Day and a Jewish Arbor Day. Originally the New Year for the Trees, Tu Bishvat is a chance to reflect on the environment and its importance in your life. And we have plenty of resources to help you do that. Read on!
Philadelphia
Are you part of an organization that welcomes intermarried couples and their families? Do you hosts events for interfaith couples? If you join the InterfaithFamily Network, you can post your events! We will help promote them using social media and might even highlight it in our eNewsletter, like this one:

Join Kesher Shalom at the Abington Arts Center in Jenkintown for their Tu Bishvat Seder, a celebration of fruits and trees on January 26!
Tu Bishvat
There's another New Year coming up this weekend (sunset on January 25 through nightfall on January 26), and, though the secular calendar year has just begun, it's actually the 4th New Year of the Jewish calendar! Rabbi Ilana Garber explores the four together, allowing us to learn the meaning and application for each of the New Year celebrations today. Read more in Happy New Year! Happy New Year! Happy New Year! Happy New Year!.

Unlike Passover seders or Rosh Hashanah dinners, the people who attended the Tu Bishvat seder Miriam Steinberg-Egeth hosted didn't feel a sense of obligation to be there. She didn't know anyone who grew up with a sense of guilt or familial responsibility surrounding the birthday of the trees, and in that regard, Tu Bishvat provides the young adult community with a powerful tool to reengage in Jewish learning and Jewish exploration and to take ownership over a Jewish ritual that may be a totally new experience. Read more in Four Worlds, Four People: Tu Bishvat Seder With Meaning.

Years ago, an "$8 salad" became shorthand between Molly Parr and her sister, Sylvie, for a salad so good, so decadent, it should cost $8. Keep in mind this was long enough ago that the "idea of a salad costing $8 gave us pause and sounded as absurd as a year of private college costing $55,000 a year, or paying a babysitter $20 for an hour of work." However you choose to describe this salad, the recipe is perfect for Tu Bishvat! Read more in $8 Salad: Composed for Tu Bishvat.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah
A recent post on Kveller.com suggests that we should "Ban the Bar Mitzvah." But Ari Moffic wonders if that's really the answer. What if parents and families were more involved in the learning for their child's bar or bat mitzvah? What if the experience benefited the whole family, not just the bar or bat mitzvah themself? Read more in Rethinking the Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

I blogged about a reality TV show, The Sisterhood, and a video clip that, even after repeated viewings, has me a little confused. As was asked on twitter, is it "blatant misuse of Jewish ritual or can we choose to borrow from other faiths? If so, how?" What do you think? Read more in A Christian Bar Mitzvah?
Weekly Torah
It's winter, but we've started reading Exodus, and are in the middle of the story of Passover.
  • Can you remember a time when you rejoiced in the pain suffered by someone whom you thought of as your enemy? What was that like? Did you feel justified or diminished? What would it take to set your joy aside? These topics and more in last week's Let My People Go!, looking at the days in Egypt with Pharaoh, Moses, and the plagues.
  • How can a story change in meaning when its told from the perspective of a secondary character or witness? Can you think of an experience from your life that would benefit from a retelling through someone else's perspective? Have you held onto bad habits despite urgings from others to change? In this week's Come Darkness, we have the worst of the plagues against Pharaoh and Egypt.
Thanksgivukkah
I know, it's only January, so why am I talking about Hanukkah? And, worse, why are others also talking about it? Because while Hanukkah has come close to overlapping with Thanksgiving before (even in our lifetimes, it nearly happened in 2002), it will actually overlap this year! Hanukkah 2013 will be a unique calendar anomaly (not repeated again until the year 79,811). Read more in Thanksgivukkah.
Talking About...
Some labels might be useful. Others, like "convert," maybe not so much. Ruth Schapira, Director of Philadelphia's Gratz College Jewish Community High School, shares her advice for talking to teens about a family member's conversion. Read more in "My Dad Converted" and Other Questions.

Wendy Armon, Director of InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia, writes about how her family is in mourning following the death of her aunt, and how different members of her family will grieve and/or follow Jewish customs for mourning. It's all about expressing one's own needs and wants. Read more in Adaptation and Flexibility for Death and Mourning Customs.

How should the liberal Jewish community respond to intermarriage? Two recent opinion pieces in the Forward approach the topic from very different sides, creating an interesting discussion. Read more in Community's Response to Intermarriage.

What we can learn about including interfaith families in our communities from Temple Isaiah of Lafayette, CA's boycott of the Boy Scouts of America? Read more in How a Boycott is Inclusive.
Pop Culture
Nate Bloom gives the scoop on surprises at last week's Golden Globes, takes a look at Girls' Zosia Mamet, introduces us to the NHL roster, and says a prayer for a good guy. Read more in Interfaith Celebrities.

Will there be an interfaith couple on NCIS? Rebecca Goodman blogs about the two most recent episodes, "Shabbat Shalom" and "Shiva." Read more in NCIS: Interfaith Couple?

When you've had a tough week, month, or year, where do you find your strength to keep going? Are you able to find optimism, a belief that things will improve? Mayim Bialik credits her rootedness in Judaism. Read more in Grounded in Judaism.
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!
Sincerely,
Benjamin Maron,
Director of Content and Educational Resources
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Philadelphia
Tu Bishvat
Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Weekly Torah
Thanksgivukkah
Talking About...
Pop Culture
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Hebrew for "Sabbath [of] peace," a greeting on the Jewish Sabbath. Hebrew for "Head of the Year," the Jewish New Year. With Yom Kippur, known as the High Holy Days. Hebrew for "son of the commandments." In modern Jewish practice, Jewish boys come of age at 13. When a boy comes of age, he is officially a bar mitzvah and considered an adult. The term is commonly used as a short-hand for the bar mitzvah's coming-of-age ceremony and/or celebration. The female equivalent is "bat mitzvah." 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." 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.) 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 "seven," refers to the seven days of mourning following the funeral of a family member. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), or the scroll that contains them.
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