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July 5, 2011 eNewsletter

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July 5, 2011

Dear Friend,

It's July. July! Who saw that coming? One moment it's spring, the next you're starting to think about the High Holy Days and leaves changing color and... But before we get there, July also means that we have exciting news to share in this eNewsletter, in addition to the great resources and articles below.

IFF News

On July 1 we filled two new positions and our staff grew from six to eight!

We are excited to welcome Rabbi Ari Moffic, the new Director of InterfaithFamily/Chicago, a pilot initiative to coordinate and provide a comprehensive set of local programs aimed at engaging Chicago-area interfaith families Jewishly. Ari is a Reform rabbi with extensive experience in Jewish family education, most recently with our friends at Congregation Sukkat Shalom.

We are also fortunate to have Joanna Rothman join us as our new Director of Development. Joanna most recently was Director of Development at Boston's Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), and previously was on the development staff of WGBH, Boston’s NPR and PBS station.

Shabbat and Havdalah

We're still updating our redesigned Shabbat and Havdalah Resource Page, so keep checking back to see what's new!

Meanwhile, let me share some highlights with you:

Our three booklets on Shabbat and Havdalah are great! Print them off at home, hand them out in your communities and religious schools or give them to visitors before they come to your synagogue for a bar/bat mitzvah or other Shabbat occasion.

  • Shabbat Made Easy is a guide through the why and how of bringing Shabbat to your home and table. It includes all the blessings traditionally said in the table service with candles, wine and the braided bread called challah.
  • In Shabbat: What To Expect At A Synagogue, you will find an overview of what Shabbat is, and how it is celebrated in synagogues. Language is explained, the prayer services are broken down and many common questions are answered.
  • Havdalah Made Easy explains all that you need for the brief, but memorable, ritual. Included are the four blessings over wine, fragrant spices, fire and distinctions, as well as the items that are needed for the rituals. Included are traditional songs to complete your ceremony.

Our Guide To Shabbat and Havdalah for Interfaith Families is a comprehensive introduction to the 25 hours. From background information to blessings to suggestions to help you prepare, this guide has it all. And each section is easily laid out on it's own page, making both the online and PDF versions easy to navigate.

For quick, at your finger tips aids, we have both Shabbat Blessings and Havdalah Blessings. These two resources include an easy to download guide to the blessings for both Shabbat and Havdalah in Hebrew, English transliteration and translation and have accompanying audio files for each blessing.


Marina Williams, after converting to Judaism and starting a Jewish family, did not have a great relationship with her parents. After her daughters' births, she worried how her family would react to a naming ceremony. It wasn't easy, but the results were surprising. Read more in How Two Baby Naming Ceremonies Helped a Jew-By-Choice Come to Terms With Her Catholic Parents.

J. Singh grew up in a Hindu/Roman Catholic family, living in a Jewish suburb of New York. As she and her Jewish girlfriend's relationship became serious, they both had to figure out how to tell their parents that they were in an interfaith, lesbian relationship. (Be warned, this article includes some rather humorous phrases!) Read more in Your Daughter Has Something To Tell You.


J.R. Wilheim took an old Jewish tradition known as kapparot — a ritual in which a chicken is swung over one's head, symbolically transferring sins to the animal — and reinvented it, using suggested liturgy and a rubber chicken to help rid you of Jewish anxiety and feelings of exclusion from the Jewish community. Read more in Reappropriating Kapparot: Rubber Chickens and Jewish Anxiety.

Pop Culture

Nate Bloom, in his bi-weekly column, updates us on John Francis Daley (and other "Freaks and Geeks" alumni); Mayor Bloomberg's daughter, equestrian and author Georgina; an Australian Aboriginal Jew-by-choice doctor; and more. Read more in Interfaith Celebrities.

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!

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Benjamin Maron, Managing Editor


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." A bread that comes in a few different varieties; its most common variation is a braided egg bread, though there are water challahs that don't have eggs, and there are whole-wheat challahs which sometimes also don't have eggs. It is customary to being Sabbath and holiday meals by saying blessings and eating challah. 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.
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