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October 25, 2011 eNewsletter

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Starting November 2: Love & Religion, a four-session discussion group for interfaith coupleswill be offered at the Mandell JCC in West Harford, CT. Developed by Dr. Marion Usher, the workshop has helped more than 400 couples openly discuss issues they face as partners from two different backgrounds as they work on creating religious lives together. Open to the entire community.

October 25, 2011

Dear friend,

The busy autumn holiday season is behind us — phew! This weekend we start a new month according to the Hebrew calendar, Cheshvan, which is thankfully void of any holidays, allowing for some much needed downtime.

News from IFF

Ever since Slingshot started publishing its annual guide to the fifty most innovative Jewish non-profits, has been included. This year we're excited and honored to be recognized as a "Standard Bearer"! Read more in our press release.

Some Jewish leaders think that interfaith families don't want to attend programs "for interfaith families," that they want to attend general programs for everyone instead. Since December 2009 we've been asking that question in our December Holidays and Passover/Easter Surveys. Now we're reporting on the results: significant percentages of interfaith families in fact are interested in programs developed and explicitly marketed as "for interfaith families" — confirming the need for the Jewish community to offer those kinds of programs. Read more in Interfaith Families Prefer Programs Marketed as "For Interfaith Families".


Sukkot may now be behind us, but questions still linger. What's with the huts? Our new video shows all about the temporary shelter, known as a "sukkah," built for the holiday, as well as its construction and how to build your own. Read (and watch) more in What's a Sukkah?

In recent conversations about Sukkot, I heard a common theme: People understand that we build a sukkah and that we shake four species, known as lulav and etrog, but they want to know why. "I get that it's a harvest thing but..." is a trailing thought I've heard articulated repeatedly. So here's my guide to the less commonly known aspects of Sukkot. Keep it handy for next year as the questions are renewed. Read more in Sukkot: More Than Just a "Harvest Thing".

While we cannot be certain about what motivated those Pilgrim settlers to initiate a feast of thanksgiving, it is likely that they consciously drew on a model well-known to them from the Bible they cherished. Read more in Thanksgiving: A Harvest Festival with Roots in Sukkot.

Families and Parenting

Shabbat can be a wonderful time to read with our kids. Elias Kass reviewed four books, all dealing with Shabbat themes, that would make great stories to share with our families on the Sabbath itself, or any other day of the week. Read more in Shabbat Reading with Kids.

Soon-to-be mom Ketura blogged about the adoption process, hope and miracles. Read more in The Call.

Pop Culture

The press made some interesting (and inaccurate) observations about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's Sukkot holiday observances. We just couldn't let them slide. Read more in They Just Don't Get It.

In an exclusive, Stephanie Carey interviewed the star of Broadway's Chicago and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown about her career and interfaith family. Read more in Interview with Nikka Graff Lanzarone: Broadway Star.

Karen Kushner reviewed a new novel that she found significant for its portrayal of an interfaith relationship between a Jewish doctor and a Muslim poet, a relationship not only of warmth and respect between those two individuals but of their two families. Read more in A Novel of Muslim Jewish Love.

Wedding Blog

Yolanda and Arel are back, with a confession: they're not very good at planning, let alone wedding planning. Check out their latest video blog post! Read (and watch) more in Video 6: what to do when you suck at wedding planning.

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, 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


The spring holiday commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew name is "Pesach." 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 "booth," a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot ("booths"). 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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