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October 2, 2012 eNewsletter

 
InterFaithFamily
October 2, 2012
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Dear Friends,
We're now in the middle of Sukkot, one of the most joyous holidays. It's not just fun because we get to eat our meals outside in a hut, we're actually told to have fun and be happy on this holiday! So even if you do not have a chance to get to a sukkah (hut) this week, I hope you do have a chance to have some fun.

We'll be taking a break from the newsletter, but we'll see you back in your email on October 30 with great articles, stories and resources.
Sukkot
Wondering what Sukkot is all about? Want to know more about the next holiday, Simchat Torah, which is observed at the end of Sukkot? Check out our booklet, videos, articles, blessings, cheat sheets and more on our Sukkot and Simchat Torah Resource Page.

For Rabbi Daniel S. Brenner, growing up in North Carolina meant Sukkot was a time when his family was especially on display. His bookish family would build a sukkah in the yard (an incomplete "shed" in the eyes of his Christian neighbors), using their hands to connect to a biblical verse. Read more in The Sukkah Links Us to Craft and Creation.
Intermarriage
A nice reminder that Jews aren't the only ones who span the religious observance spectrum — Muslims do too. Susan Katz wrote, "When I first married my Muslim husband, the thought of Ramadan brought anxiety and dread. I imagined fasting, early- and late-hour eating, special foods, and prayer mats. When I finally asked him what rituals he performs for the holiday, he flippantly said, 'I try not to hit the bars.' Later, I learned that Ramadan brought the same tremendous guilt to my husband that I had experienced about missing Yom Kippur services." Read more in Different Religions, Same Guilt.
Animated Torahlog
Have you noticed the new blog on InterfaithFamily? Every week (a little more frequently these days, due to all the holidays), the G-dcast team is blogging about the weekly Torah portion. What's that? Traditionally, each Shabbat part of the Torah is read — the same part is read, no matter where in the world you are. G-dcast wants to bring the Torah to life, make it accessible and interesting to all of us today. With every blog post, they're including an animated video (great for adults and kids alike) that explains the story through song, poetry, musical, narrative, or something else entirely. And they're asking questions for us! So take a look at the posts, give 'em some thought, and let them know what you think!

What is the written legacy you would want to leave behind before you die? What do you want your family and closest friends to know about your life? Mayim Bialiklends her voice to this portion, known as VaYelech. Read (and watch) more in Writing Our Legacy.

On Yom Kippur, the story of Jonah (a universal story of one flawed human, called upon to be a prophet — but he resists his task) is read at synagogue. Why do we read this on such a solemn and holy day? Read (and watch) more in Yom Kippur.

There's an ominous poem full of warnings of disaster from which we're supposed to be inspired. And from which we hear God referred to as "the Rock" a whole lot. Does that imagery work for you? Read (and watch) more in The Rock Wants You To Listen.

What does Pete Seeger have to do with Sukkot? His popular folk song, "Turn, Turn, Turn" comes from the Torah read on this holiday! Read (and watch) more in Sukkot's Special Scroll.
Birth Ceremonies
When Rebecca Cynamon-Murphy, the Christian partner in an interfaith marriage, met with a rabbi to plan their forthcoming baby's ceremony (a bris or a simchat bat), both she, her partner, and the rabbi knew this wouldn't be a cookie cutter event. They all thought through the details and explanations carefully to make sure everything reflected their values. Read more in Welcoming Esther: a Simchat Bat.
IFF Network Blog
On the blog, Rabbi Ari Moffic wondered what it would take to go from just welcoming interfaith couples and families to getting them to join synagogues. What are the barriers to joining? Read more in Coming In The Front Door.

And Ed Case had an op-ed in the New York Jewish Week on the same subject. Read more in What Draws Interfaith Families To Jewish Life.

I followed up with a post about a father-daughter team from Florida that was once estranged (because she intermarried) then reunited and, taking it a step further, now works together (daughter's a cantor and dad's a rabbi) building inclusive, welcoming communities. Read more in From "Estranged" to Beyond Welcoming.

Ed also blogged about a rabbi in Florida who not only changed his position on officiating at interfaith marriages, but decided to share the news with his congregation during his Rosh Hashanah sermon. Read more in Rabbi Reverses Interfaith Marriage Policy.
Pop Culture
Nate Bloom went long with the Jewish/interfaith players in the NFL; shared an updated on the Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman marriage, pregnancy and conversion; and showed how some celebrities tweeted in the Jewish New Year. Read more in Interfaith Celebrities.
How will you be spending the December holidays, Hanukkah and/or Christmas, this year? Take our survey and let us know! And, if you're also a member of our Network (join now!), you'll be eligible to win a $500 American Express giftcard for answering! That's a whole lot of holiday joy!
Chag sameach — happy holiday,
Benjamin Maron,
Director of Content and Educational Resources
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Sukkot
Intermarriage
Animated Torahlog
Birth Ceremonies
IFF Network Blog
Pop Culture
Featured Event
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Hebrew for "Head of the Year," the Jewish New Year. With Yom Kippur, known as the High Holy Days. Hebrew for "Joy of Torah," a fall holiday that celebrates the completion of the yearlong Torah cycle and the commencement of a new one. One of 54 sections of the Torah read, during Shabbat services, in order on a weekly basis throughout the year. Hebrew for "happy holiday." Hebrew for "daughter's celebration," a modern term for a naming ceremony for baby girls. Hebrew for "Day of Atonement," the final of ten Days of Awe that begin with Rosh Hashanah. Occurs during the fall and is marked by a 24-hour fast. One of the most important Jewish holidays. 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. A member of the Jewish clergy who leads a congregation in songful prayer. ("Hazzan" in Hebrew.) Hebrew for "booth," a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot ("booths"). Hebrew for "Booths," it's a fall holiday marking the harvest, like a Jewish Thanksgiving, complete with opportunities for dining and sleeping under the stars. 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."
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