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e-newsletter 10-29-08

Dear Friend,

Ah, the blessed freedom of the Hebrew month of Heshvan, in which there is not a single Jewish holiday. What a great opportunity to celebrate not having anything to celebrate!  Except Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas, which I'm not thinking about right now, I swear.

flickr hanukah imageTake Our December Holiday Survey

It's time for IFF's annual December Holiday Survey.  If you celebrate Christmas, or Hanukkah, or both, or neither, we want you to tell us about it! There are no wrong answers. Take the survey and you can enter a drawing to win a $500 American Express giftcard.You don't have to be in an interfaith marriage or Jewish to take the survey--we want to hear from everyone.


Charlotte Gordon was a single mom with a new boyfriend who wasn't much handier with tools than she was, but he helped her to build A Sukkah of Our Own

lenn familyParenting

Judi Wisch graciously shared an interview, Meet the Lenns, A PJ Library Family. Wisch is the Community Outreach Consultant for The PJ Library, which sends Jewish-content books and music on a monthly basis to children from age 6 months to ages 5, 6 or 7 years depending on the community. The Lenns are a mom, a dad and a 4-year-old boy who likes books about animals.

Jews of Color 

Washington, D.C. Congregation Has Diversity as Its Mission, as Adam Kredo reports. Do Jews of color need their own congregations, or are all Jewish congregations ready to be diverse? What do you think?


Rachel and Uncle GerryBar and Bat Mitzvah

Share the pleasure and pride of Hedi Molnar's interfaith, interracial family, many of whom are Holocaust survivors, as her eldest daughter answers the question  Bat Mitzvah--Then What?


Dominican beach Weddings

Aliza Hausman was ready to elope, but her future husband wasn't. She gives her solution to the problem of making a truly multicultural wedding celebration in My Big Fat Dominican Jewish Wedding.


Love, Marriage, Communication

"I love and am drawn to all things Jewish--but most of all, to my wife Donna," says Ken Hall, in A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet.


amen photoGrowing Up In An Interfaith Family

Janice Aron is a graduate student in psychology researching interfaith marriage--a topic close to her, since she grew up in an interfaith family, as she writes in I'm Jewish. Say Amen, Somebody.

If you found that taking the IFF December Survey whet your appetite for surveys, you can also help Janice with her doctoral research on the importance of religion in marriage. You can take her survey online--you can enter to win one of 20 Target or Starbucks $10 giftcards--or contact her directly by email for more information.  


rock and roll childrenBooks

Two new Jewish children's books with accompanying music CDs strike a chord with our reviewer, Lynn Melnick, the parent of a boppin' 3-year-old in Jewish Music for Rock and Roll Preschoolers? Personal preference will dictate which of these songs you--or more likely, your small children--wish to replay over and over.


Birth Ceremonies

They agreed to bring their son to the mikveh after his brit milah, but his non-Jewish mom didn't know she'd be going in the water with the baby. Johanna Hammer tells the story in Letting Go: A Lesbian Mom Brings Her Son to the Mikveh.

Elizabeth BanksArts and Entertainment

Elizabeth Banks is going to be bankable talent, as you can see in her two movies opening this month. Scott Glenn, another celebrity with interfaith Jewish connections, appears with Banks in the new bio-pic about George W. Bush, as Nate Bloom reports in Interfaith Celebrities: W. and Other Cowboy Movies.

dolphinsNew On the Blogs 

I wrote a post about online weekly Torah discussion resources, Talking Torah on the Internet. Micah Sachs reflected on the story of a Boy Wonder's bar mitzvah, and I wrote a post on the need for Grandmothers in this cultural moment.

We'd love to hear from you--join the discussions on our discussion boards or by posting a comment on an article.


Ruth Abrams, Managing Editor

Write for Us!

We're looking for writers on the following topics:


  • Christmas in my interfaith family
  • Hanukkah in my interfaith family
  • I'm Jewish: here's what I want my children to learn about my partner's religion
  • Parenting teens in an interfaith family
  • Hebrew school--I hated it, you're going
  • Jewish values
  • I want my children to be Jewish--whatever that means | P.O. Box 428, Newton, MA 02464 | 617 581 6860 | | P.O. Box 428, Newton, MA 02464 | 617 581 6860 |

Hebrew for "son of the commandments." In modern Jewish practice, Jewish boys come of age at 13. When a boy comes of age, he is officially a bar mitzvah and considered an adult. The term is commonly used as a short-hand for the bar mitzvah's coming-of-age ceremony and/or celebration. The female equivalent is "bat mitzvah." Hebrew for "daughter of the commandments." In modern Jewish practice, Jewish girls come of age at 12 or 13. When a girl comes of age, she is officially a bat mitzvah and considered an adult. The term is commonly used as a short-hand for the bat mitzvah's coming-of-age ceremony and/or celebration. The male equivalent is "bar mitzvah." Hebrew for "covenant of circumcision," a ritual for Jewish boys when they are 8 days old. It is commonly known as "bris," which is the Ashkenazi or Yiddish pronunciation of "brit." 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 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 "collection," referring to the "collection of water," is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism. Today it is used as part of the traditional procedure for converting to Judaism, by Jews who follow the laws of ritual (body) purity, and sometimes for making kitchen utensils kosher. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), or the scroll that contains them. Hebrew for "cupboard" or "closet," it usually refers to the ark, a structure that houses the Torah(s) in a synagogue.
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