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November 13, 2012 eNewsletter - Chicago

 
InterFaithFamily
November 13, 2012
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Dear Friends,
With the cooler weather, Thanksgiving's on the horizon and the December holidays are close behind. We've got some big news to share and plenty of resources to help you and your family get ready for December dilemma.
InterfaithFamily News
We are excited to announce that we're growing and expanding in local communities! Read more in our press release: Announcing InterfaithFamily/Your Community!

We're excited to welcome our new staff. Rebecca Goodman, with a background in Jewish education and communal service, is the new Director of InterfaithFamily/San Francisco. Wendy Armon and Robin Warsaw, working as Director and Project Manager respectively, have come to us from InterFaithways which is merging with us to launch InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia. Jennifer Falkenholm has joined Ari Moffic at InterfaithFamily/Chicago as the new Project Manager/Implementation Specialist. And Stacie Garnett-Cook will be working with all of the local community staff and helping them thrive as the National Director of InterfaithFamily/Your Community. Read their bios on our Staff page.

More exciting news to share: InterfaithFamily was named one of North America's most innovative Jewish nonprofits, and recognized again as a "standard bearer" for continuing innovation, impact, leadership and efficacy by the Slingshot Fund. Read more in Honored as "Perpetual Innovator"!

And, with pride, we're happy to share that we're included in the communal survey authored by Keshet (working for the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals in the Jewish community) and the HRC (Human Rights Campaign, working for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equal rights) as an "inclusive" organization. Read more in Jewish Organization Equality Index.
December Dilemma
Two local Jewish community studies (Boston's from 2005 and New York's from 2011 (released in 2012)) noted the frequency of interfaith families having Christmas trees. Both studies also noted the lack of data indicating what a Christmas tree means to interfaith families. Wouldn't you know it? We've been asking just that in our annual December holiday surveys! We're sure you'll find the results of this year's, the 9th annual survey, interesting. Read more in When is a Christmas Tree Just a Christmas Tree?

And a big thank you to all of you who took our survey. We couldn't do it without you. A big congratulations to Rachel Jaffe of Chicago who's name was drawn from all those who completed the survey. She's won a $500 American Express gift card!

On the Parenting Blog, Suzanne Lutz replied to our survey by posting about about her family's navigation of the December holidays, Hanukkah and Christmas. Read more in A Christmas Tree is always a Christmas Tree, If You Want It To Be.

Our friends at Jewish Holidays in a Box blogged about great ways to personalize your Hanukkah experience in order to create unique and meaningful holiday celebrations for all members of your family. Read more in Customize Your Hanukkah Celebrations.

Did you know there's a new album out that celebrates the competition between Christmas and Hanukkah? File this under "the Jews who wrote Christmas songs!" I shared it on the blog, with a preview of the music. Read (and listen) more in Dueling December Ditties.

Jim Keen shared his family's December holiday negotiations, and reminded us that "One day out of the year isn't going to make or break [our children's] Jewish identity. It's how you raise your kids as Jews the other 364 days that counts." Read more in "Will Santa Bring Me Presents, Even If I'm Jewish?"
Animated Torahlog
Nechama Tamler continues blogging her way through the Torah's weekly portions — are you reading along? It's a great way to learn the stories and how they can be relevant today. Plus, each comes with a great animated video from the amazing team at G-dcast.

If you haven't yet started following the DRAMA that is Genesis, the first book of the Torah, you really should. And the portion won't disappoint! There's lies, drunken sex, deceit and sacrifice... (And it's all there for free, without an HBO subscription!) Read (and watch) more in It's Complicated.

This week, the death (sorry, life!) of Sarah and an introduction to Rebecca, her daughter-in-law. What's unique about this portion? Rebecca is given a voice and strong actions, a first for women in the Torah. Read (and watch) more in Sarah's Life and Rebecca's Voice.
Family
What will Thanksgiving look like for your interfaith family? Linda Arking shared her family's experiences, fully embracing their varied and diverse backgrounds. Read more in A Quilt? A Stew? Who Are We, Anyway?

Rebecca Cynamon-Murphy wrote about her parenting philosophy, sharing, "A cantor once asked me, 'When did you discover that you were Jewish?' rather than, 'Why do you want to be Jewish?' I think this language of discovery is helpful as my husband and I raise our daughter in an interfaith home where both of us practice our spiritual traditions individually and with each other, since so many practices require the participation of one's family to be fully pleasing to God." Read more in Parenting and the Joy for Jewish.

Sarah R., a new blogger for our Parenting Blog, introduced herself and her family, plus her relationship with the Jewish community. Read more in Shalom.
Jewish Community
Why do some rabbis and cantors officiate at interfaith weddings while others do not? Cantor Ronald Broden looked at the most common reasons and offers explanations, emphasizing his belief that all Jewish clergy should officiate. Read more in Jewish Clergy and Officiation at Interfaith Weddings: A Strong Take on Hypocrisy.

The Rabbinical Assembly (the rabbis' guild for the Conservative movement) and Schechter Day School Network (the Jewish day schools affiliated with the Conservative denomination) are looking at how to include interfaith families in their day schools. We've blogged about our response to their approach... What do you think? Read more in Attracting Interfaith Families to the Conservative Movement Day Schools.

Ari Moffic blogged about the importance of becoming familiar with prayer — its history, meaning and choreography. And encouraged those of you in Chicagoland to join her at a learner's service. Read more in Learning To Pray.
Pop Culture
Nate Bloom wondered if Nate Silver, who's predictions were the talk of the 2012 election, might be the interfaith celebrity of the year. Plus, a look at Daniel Craig, Sam Mendes, and the Bond Girls of movies past and the bar mitzvah scenes in Happy Endings. 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!
Sincerely,
Benjamin Maron,
Director of Content and Educational Resources
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IFF News
December Dilemma
Animated Torahlog
Family
Jewish Community
Pop Culture
Featured Event
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from Our Network

Temple Jeremiah, a warm and welcoming spiritual home in Northfield, is a Reform Congregation with a special focus on engaging interfaith families into the fabric of the community.
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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." 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. A member of the Jewish clergy who leads a congregation in songful prayer. ("Hazzan" in Hebrew.)
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