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May 24, 2011 eNewsletter

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Featured Event from Our Network

Jewish Multiracial Network Fourteenth Annual Retreat

June 17-19: Join other Jewish multiracial families and Jews of Color of all ages for an inclusive Shabbat experience that will celebrate the diversity of our community. The weekend includes exciting adult discussions and workshops, youth and teen programming, childcare, multi-generational family programming and time to relax and enjoy all that the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center has to offer. More details in our Network event listings.

May 24, 2011

Dear friend,

At least in some parts of the continent, spring has sprung and we're moving towards summer. This period is also known as the Omer, the counting of the fifty days days from Passover to the next big Jewish holiday, Shavuot. Our Shavuot resources are up - don't forget to check them out for articles, recipes and more!

This is also a popular season for engagements and weddings. If you or someone you know is getting married, see below for resources for the interfaith couples in your life.

IFF News

We announced last week that we've secured funding to implement InterfaithFamily/Chicago, a two-year pilot initiative to coordinate and provide a comprehensive set of local programs aimed at engaging Chicago-area interfaith families Jewishly. Read all about the exciting news, in the press release and in Ed Case's blog post about the importance of the initiative and what it will look like in Chicago.


For many, spring and summer mean weddings! Wondering what a chuppah is? When a good time might be for poems or vows? How to incorporate traditions from other heritages? What the different parts of a Jewish wedding ceremony are? We have all of this, and more, in our Guide to Wedding Ceremonies for Interfaith Couples.

Our interfaith wedding bloggers, Mia and Ethan, headed to Arizona to continue planning their wedding. And, along the way, Mia had some revelations about her role in this extended interfaith family. Read more in Phoenix - Here We Come, Phoenix - Here We Are.

But there's more! Ethan and Mia also have tips for some of the finer wedding planning details, like understanding Hebrew transliteration and how to write out corresponding Hebrew and Gregorian dates in English. Read more in How Does One Spell "Jewish Wedding Canopy"?

And if, like Mia and Ethan, or perhaps like Sarah Silverman and her unicorn, you're in an interfaith relationship and are looking for Jewish clergy to officiate at your wedding (or other life cycle event, including bar/bat mitzvah, bris, baby naming, funeral...), we can help with our free Jewish Clergy Officiation Referral Service. And everyone who puts in a request by June 30, 2011 will be entered to win a $500 American Express gift card. If you refer a friend to our Referral Service and your friend puts your name in the "Referred By" field on the form, you are also entered to win (and as an added incentive, your friend is entered to win a 2nd time!).


Jane Larkin wasn't sure where her son should go to school. A year ago, with her husband who is not Jewish, they decided to send their son to a local Jewish day school for kindergarten rather than to their neighborhood elementary school. The decision was made after much research, thought and discussion. Ironically, it was her husband who felt more at ease with a day school education than Jane had. Read more in A Day School Education For My Interfaith Family.

Last week, I attended a gala celebrating Storahtelling, a ritual theatre company that brings the Torah and Judaism to life in contemporary, relevant ways. Read more in A Storahtelling B Mitzvah.

Ed Case blogged about American rabbinical students and Israel, highlighting that intermarriage is not to blame for young adults' conflicted views on Israel. Read more in Young American Jews, Israel, and Intermarriage, Revisited.


Shavuot starts the evening of June 7. To get ready for it, check out our updated resource page, and keep checking back as we add more resources, articles and recipes.

On Shavuot, the Book of Ruth is traditionally read, a story about a woman's choice to convert to Judaism. But this Shavuot, perhaps we should consider that all Jews are Jews-by-choice. Read more in Shavuot: A Celebration of Choice.

As Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael wrote, as we read and honor Ruth's journey at Shavuot, we can reflect and honor our own unique paths. "Celebrate your marriages, honor the wisdom of your ancestors and give gratitude for your abundance." Read more in The Book of Ruth: an Interfaith Tale.

Are you on Twitter? Follow us for breaking stories and resources! Are you on Facebook? Like us for daily content! On Youtube? Subscribe to our channel!

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? I'd love to hear your story pitches! Contact me!


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." The spring holiday commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew name is "Pesach." Hebrew for "canopy" or "covering," the structure (open on all four sides) under which a Jewish wedding ceremony takes place. In its simplest for, it consists of a cloth, sheet, or tallit stretched or supported over four poles. The Jewish Sabbath, from sunset on Friday to nightfall on Saturday. 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. Hebrew for "covenant," often referring to the ritual for Jewish boys when they are 8 days old ("brit milah" - "covenant of circumcision"). It is commonly known as "bris," which is the Ashkenazi or Yiddish pronunciation of "brit." 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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