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May 1, 2012 eNewsletter - Chicago

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Try Camp Chi, the summer home for Jewish and interfaith campers. Now through a special interfaith scholarship, your child can attend this popular camp at an unbelievable savings and experience the joys of overnight camp this summer! 2, 3, and 4 week sessions are available. For information and registration questions, please contact camp director, Ron Levin, for details on how to take advantage of this great offer. Hurry! Funds are limited.

May 1, 2012

Dear friends,

Welcome to all the new Chicagoland newsletter subscribers! We hope you'll find the content interesting and useful. And stay tuned: we'll announce the Kindle Fire winner in the next newsletter!

Calling all writers! Are you, or is a family member, Hindu, Muslim, Quaker, Buddhist or of another religion/faith? Do you have an interesting story to share about a ritual, life cycle event or holiday with your interfaith family/relationship? I'd love to hear your story pitches. Contact me with your ideas for articles!


What holiday is not mentioned in the Torah or any other Jewish source until the 13th century and has no particular foods associated with it? The answer is Lag b'Omer. Sybil Kaplan shares an overview of Lag b'Omer with recipes for the outdoor barbecues popular on this holiday. Read more in Lag b'Omer: A Jewish Holiday That Is A Picnic.


Has your child asked similar questions? How do you respond? Recently, Leah Singer's daughter said, "Mommy, I asked God for a brother or sister. When is a little sister or brother coming? Doesn't God listen to little children?" Read more in Doesn't God Listen to Little Children?


Can a Jew by birth be a Jew By Choice? Stacey Zisook Robinson makes some great arguments: "As a Jew by birth, choosing to engage, connect, participate, act, worship and pray as a Jew makes me a Jew By Choice." Read more in Jew By Choice.

On the blog, Ari Moffic, Director of InterfaithFamily/Chicago, posits that the question Jewish educators should be asking is "why be Jewish?," and how to teach to that. But how do we teach the "why?" And is the "why" as important as the "what?" Read more in Teaching the Why?

On the Parenting Blog, Amy Claver, a Chicagoland mom, responds to Ari Moffic's blog post, sharing her reasons for raising her kids with Judaism, integrating the meaning, the "why" of Judaism, into their lives. Read more in Answering the Why? One Parent's Perspective.


Ever wonder why some rabbis officiate at interfaith marriages, while others don't? After 14 years, Rabbi Andrea London, of Evanston's Beth Emet The Free Synagogue, has changed her stance: she now officiates. And she shares her reasons. Read more in Intermarriage Officiation: Why I Have Now Decided to Officiate at Intermarriages.

I blogged about a continuing trend in weddings. More couples, where neither partner is Jewish, are featuring ketubahs (traditionally, Jewish marriage documents) at their weddings. And this "interestingly Jewish" New York Times wedding announcement? It got into the some of the struggles an interfaith couple may face while dating, imagining a future together and dealing with familial and/or community pressure. Read more in Wedding News.

Pop Culture

Breaking news: Drew Barrymore and fiancé Will Kopelman follow the laws of the Omer: waiting until after Shavuot to get married! (Some think it's because she's pregnant, but I share a Jew-ier theory on the blog.) Read more in Drew and Will's Wedding.

In his regular column, Nate Bloom shares the details behind The Five Year Engagement's interfaith romance, gives a who's who of the season's Jewish and interfaith major league baseball players, and takes a look at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees. Read more in Interfaith Celebrities.

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Benjamin Maron, Managing Editor





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 Summer holiday commemorating the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, it is also known as the Feast of Weeks, as it comes seven weeks after Passover begins. A member of the Jewish clergy who leads a congregation in songful prayer. ("Hazzan" in Hebrew.) 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. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), or the scroll that contains them. Hebrew term for a unit of dry measure, it was used to measure barley and is sometimes translated as "sheaf" (as in, "sheaf of barley"). Omer now refers to the period of 49 days from Passover to Shavuot. Today, instead of bringing an omer of barley to sacrifice, the days are counted ("counting the Omer"). It's also a period of semi-mourning, when traditional Jews will refrain from partying, dancing, listening to live music, or cutting their hair.
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