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November 22, 2011 eNewsletter - Chicago

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Mishkan Chicago: A social and spiritual community reclaiming Judaism's progressive edge and ecstatic spirit.

November 22, 2011

Dear friend,

We're looking past Thanksgiving to Hannukah! And we'd love your input: read on for an opportunity to tell us about your December holiday practices (and a chance to win), and, for you writerly types, check out the request for article submissions at the bottom of this eNewsletter.


Now that has a direct and local presence in Chicagoland, we've made a change to the eNewsletter. Did you notice, two weeks ago, that you received a version of this eNewsletter that highlighted local content? We've started local editions, where we will be focusing on your local community in addition to highlighting the great content from

In between our bi-weekly eNewsletters, feel free to get in touch with Ari Moffic, the Director of InterfaithFamily/Chicago. She's an on-the-ground resource for all clergy, Jewish professionals and organizations who want help welcoming interfaith couples and families to Jewish life. She's available to lead or participate in workshops and can share resources, studies and best practices as well.

InterfaithFamily/Chicago plans to offer two hybrid online/in-person workshops and classes: Raising a Child with Judaism in Your Interfaith Family (an eight session class for interfaith families with young children starting in February) and Love and Religion (a four session workshop to help interfaith couples who are seriously dating or newly married learn how to communicate about having religion in their lives). All of our classes are designed to be feeders to Chicagoland organizations and programs.

Check out more local content on the Chicagoland Community Page — and get to know your community!

News from IFF

Do you work at a Jewish organization or congregation that is welcoming and inclusive of interfaith couples and families? Add your organization to our Network then post your events and we'll help promote them as well. (Plus, you could win an iPad for signing up!) There's more information here or contact Deb Morandi for assistance.

Congratulations to Carrie M. of San Jose, California, who won our drawing for a $500 American Express Gift Card. Thanks to Carrie, and all of you, who took a few minutes to fill out our 2011 User Survey.

Do you celebrate Hanukkah? Christmas? We are conducting a survey about interfaith families' experiences participating in Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations. People of all backgrounds are welcome to take this survey and anyone who is a member of the Network is eligible to win the drawing of a $500 American Express giftcard. Take the December Holiday Survey!


Several years ago, Chicagoan Cheryl Axelrod never could have predicted that she would tuck her kids in at night while singing to them in Hebrew. As a previously "good Catholic girl," Hebrew just wasn't her reality. But things changed after she married into a Jewish family. Read more in My Family's Bedtime Sh'ma.

On a recent Friday night, Josh Olivier-Mason recorded an audio essay about his interfaith family. Read (and listen to) more in This Is What Interfaith Sounds Like.

Blogs: Parenting, Wedding and Network

New mom Chana-Esther returns to the parenting blog to reflect on the birth of her first child, her husband's faith and her prayers. Read more in A few thoughts as my son naps.

Newlywed Ethan returns to the Wedding Blog to update readers on his evolving thoughts on keeping kosher, now that he's married to Mia (who does not keep kosher). Read more in We did it! And so did I! (Ethan's post is as a comment.)

I blogged about a few news stories you might have missed: raising kids in one religion, not two; a video clip from Indian-Jewish comedian Samon Koletkar's "Mahatma Moses Comedy Tour"; why egalitarian parenting is good for the Jewish community; the first gay marriage officiated by an Orthodox rabbi; and forget "continuity," our focus should be on learning. Read (and watch) more in In Case You Missed It...

Elana MacGilpin reflected on the recent lack of "normal" in her and her family's life, and ways that she and her family feel completely "normal" in their community. Read more in Back to "Normal".

Over and over, Ari Moffic is hearing the same questions asked by Jewish professionals who work with interfaith families. And she wants to know what you think. Read more in Questions Coming Up in Chicagoland.

On the Parenting Blog, SLP writes, "I wish I had thought about [how my non-Jewish family members might be uncomfortable or uncertain about going to synagogue] when we were first married. Had I really considered the importance of having my family attend my kid’s religious life cycle events, I might have taken my family to Friday services when they visited." Read more in Demystifying Temple.


It's a great time to start reading Hannukkah stories with kids and grandkids. Get ready for the December holidays, start learning the story/history of Hanukkah, its rituals and significance while sharing some great reads. Naomi M. reviewed five books, for kids of all ages. You're sure to find something your favorite child(ren) will enjoy! Read more in Hanukkah Books for Kids.

In her review, Stephanie Carey found Sonia Taitz's romance novel to be "deliciously" written. The novel examines identity and our struggle to find our place, against the backdrop of an interfaith relationship. Read more in Review of In the King's Arms.

Pop Culture

Mitch Albom brings interfaith to the small screen, the Muppets take the big screen and Harry Belafonte's life comes to a book near you. Nate Bloom shares all the dirt! Read more in Interfaith Celebrities.

Are you, or is a family member, Hindu, Muslim, Quaker, Buddhist or of another religion/faith with an interesting story to share about a ritual, spring holiday or life-cycle event with your interfaith family or interfaith relationship? I'd love to hear your story pitches! Contact me!

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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." 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. 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.) 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 "fit" (as in, "fit for consumption"), the Jewish dietary laws. 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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