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September 27, 2011 eNewsletter

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September 27, 2011

Dear friend,

No matter how you choose to mark the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah is an opportunity enjoy the company of friends and family, reflect on the year that has ended and the year to come, and enjoy sweets like apples dipped in honey. If you're still trying to get in the festive mood or looking for more resources before it starts tomorrow evening, check out our High Holy Days section below.

And if Rosh Hashanah isn't your holiday of choice, we still have articles for you too! Read on...

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High Holy Days

Looking for a last minute primer on Rosh Hashanah? We have amazing booklets, guides, tips, downloads and more on our Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Resource Page.

Sometimes the spiritual cleansing of the period leading up to Rosh Hashanah can be a bit much. Sometimes we just want to have a little fun, hear some sweet tunes, and maybe learn a bit along the way... Take a break, watch (see if you can spot our own cute Roni!), listen and enjoy! Read more in Videos for Rosh Hashanah.

A Rosh Hashanah dinner does not have to follow any one model. Jayne Cohen and her family created their own traditions over the years, featuring unique honeys, special fruits, pun-related dishes for the meals and friends and family members from many backgrounds around the table. The description of her annual feast is inviting — and includes recipes! Read more in Creating a Rosh Hashanah Dinner Tradition.

And on the Parenting Blog, Lisa Stein explains that holidays can be a challenge for interfaith families like hers that do not have family gatherings to attend. Her family's solution? They created a new, tasty tradition! Read more in Rosh Hashanah Pie Fest.

Children and Families

Perfect for reading with (or to) your kids, Josh Bob reviewed two books about the upcoming holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot. Great pictures and illustrations, interesting stories and characters, your kids will enjoy them as they learn. (Ok, ok, and you might too.) Read more in Review of What's the Buzz and Sadie's Sukkah Breakfast.

Last week was Talk Like a Pirate Day. Seriously. We celebrated this by highlighting some blog posts from years past (the history of Jewish pirates and some Jewish pirate jokes and the year Rosh Hashanah fell on Talk Like a Pirate Day), then looking at some books that are perfect for grandparents to read to their grandchildren. Always an Olivia is the true tale of a Jewish Italian woman who was kidnapped by pirates, was helped to escape by a slave on the pirate ship and settled, with him, in Georgia, where they and their descendants continued to light the Shabbat candles each Friday night. This story reaches back into history to demonstrate how interfaith families can be found in unexpected places. Read more in Remarkable Grandparents and the Screaming Latke.

For many families, autumn means more than Rosh Hashanah. It's back to school! And for some families, it's back to more than one school: regular schools for reading, writing and 'rithmatics, and a supplemental Religious School or Hebrew school as well. Elana MacGilpin wrote on our Parenting Blog about this magical time of the year, explaining the benefits for both her son and herself. Read more in The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Proving to be a popular theme, SLP also wrote about Religious School on the Parenting Blog, focusing on the age-old debate: soccer practice or Religous School? Read more in Soccer and Sunday School.


Getting back into the dating world, Joanna blogged about the numerous "religion" choices on JDate, wondering what they signify in a time of high intermarriage rates. Read more in JDate & The Search for Mr. Right.

On the blog, I looked at the personal stories behind synagogues' and clergy's decisions to create policies welcoming interfaith members (or not), to officiate at intermarriages (or not) and some of the families that inspire their decisions. Read more in Synagogues, Interfaith Families and Policies - Oh My!

Bat Mitzvah

Most synagogues in Italy are Orthodox. For five young women, a different approach was needed in order to have a full bat mitzvah, including reading from the Torah themselves. Because Miriam was the very first individual in the Torah to be called a prophet, Rabbi Barbara Aiello celebrated their feminist achievement by referring to these first bat mitzvahs as the "Five Books of Miriam." Read more in Italy's Five Books of Miriam.

Pop Culture

In his regular column, Nate Bloom gives us the scoop on Chelsea Handler who, with brother Roy, cooked up some Rosh Hashanah treats; the Jewish and interfaith players in the NFL; and the new TV season's interfaith and Jewish actors. Read more in Interfaith Celebrities.

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! Contact me!

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Shana Tova u'Metuka - a Good and Sweet New Year,

Benjamin Maron, Managing Editor


Hebrew for "a good year," a typical greeting on Rosh Hashanah. Plural form of the Hebrew word "mitzvah" which means "commandment," it has two meanings. The first are the commandments given in the Torah. ("You should obey the mitzvah of honoring your parents!") The second is a good deed. ("Helping her carry her groceries home was such a mitzvah!") The Jewish Sabbath, from sunset on Friday to nightfall on Saturday. 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 "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. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), or the scroll that contains them.
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