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September 13, 2011 eNewsletter

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September 13, 2011

Dear friend,

First off, a congratulations to Rabbi Yoel Kahn, who joined our Resource Center for Jewish Clergy before August 31, and won our prize drawing for a new iPad. Thanks for joining! Even though the contest has ended, if you're a rabbi or cantor, you're still able to join and reap the benefits of being part of our RCJC. Visit the RCJC page for more information and instructions on how to join.

In the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we have more resources for you, your families and communities. We also have a great selection of blog posts and other articles.

User Survey

Have you filled our our short User Survey? Please take a few minutes to let us know what you think and how we can best serve you with our resources and advocacy work. As a bonus, you'll be entered into a drawing to win a $500 American Express gift card! Complete our User Survey!

High Holy Days

On the Jewish calendar, we're currently in the month of Elul, that precedes Rosh Hashanah. During Elul, there is traditionally a focus on a useful and interesting concept: cheshbon ha'nefesh, an accounting of the soul. It can be viewed as a spiritual spreadsheet, examining the profits and losses we've built up or depleted, from which we can make a business plan for our spiritual life in the coming year. The general idea behind the business/accounting metaphor is to show discipline in our spiritual lives. But... what does that actually mean? And how do we do it? Are there specific things we're supposed to reflect on? Are any topics off limits? Basically... it's up to you. Now, that can certainly be daunting. So we've compiled a few helpful websites and resources from the IFF Archive that make reflecting in preparation for the Days of Awe interesting, accessible and innovative. Read more in Reflection: Preparing for the High Holy Days and Resources for Elul.

Communities Big and Small

In Cape Ann, MA, a small group of individuals decided to start celebrating Shabbats together, and made sure to welcome and include a neighbor who, at that point, felt only "sort of Jewish," a result of her mixed heritage upbringing. What started with one phone call led to a familiarity with her religion and a formal conversion for Charlotte Gordon. Read more in How One Phone Call Helped Me Convert to Judaism.

A recent article in the Forward looked at the Conservative movement's "hostile environment" for intermarried couples and families. But instead of lingering in the negative, they focused on a Conservative synagogue that is taking steps to be more welcoming and respectful. Read more in Conservative Synagogues: a Step in the Right Direction.

Three news pieces of interest to IFF readers cover different aspects of our communities. We start in Kansas where the new president of the local Federation plans to focus more on intermarried families, then we look at the reasons for welcoming and embracing Jews by Choice as equals to Jews by Birth in our communities, and then we end with a small community in China where, among other things, the Jews followed patrilineal descent. Read more in In Other News...


Our new Parenting Blog is still going strong! Many of the new Parenting Bloggers have written posts:

If you haven't already, check out this new group blog, leave some comments, start conversations and subscribe to the RSS feed.

Our new Wedding Bloggers, Yolanda and Arel, are also going strong! Have you watched their video posts yet?

And if you haven't already, check out their posts (and videos), leave some comments, start conversations and subscribe to the RSS feed.

Pop Culture

The recent wedding of Lauren Bush (niece and granddaughter of presidents) and David Lauren (son of designer Ralph Lauren) gets a snarky examination. Read more in An American Royal Wedding?

In his regular column, Nate Bloom discusses more details of the Bush-Lauren wedding and offers up a preview of the Jewish and interfaith actors of the new fall TV season and the Emmy nominations. Read more in Interfaith Celebrities.

A listen-at-your-own-risk glimpse of Andy Dick's latest anti-Semitic offerings (this time as a song!), and Howard Stern's campaign to bring this anti-Semitism to light, as blogged by Joanna Rothman. Read more in Howard Stern: Anti-Semitism Crusader.

Do you have an interesting story to share about a ritual, holiday or life-cycle event? About your family, extended family or chosen community? Are you LGBT and in an interfaith family? If any of these apply, I'd love to hear your story pitches! Did you see the request for new parent bloggers and want to know more? 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." A member of the Jewish clergy who leads a congregation in songful prayer. ("Hazzan" in Hebrew.) 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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