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e-newsletter 12-9-08

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December? Discuss!

Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m.

Join other interfaith families who know what it's like to talk over your December holiday choices at the December Dilemma discussion at the Washington DCJCC.




December 9, 2008

Dear Friend,

For some reason, a lot more people come to us with questions about Hanukkah and Christmas than about Shemini Atzeret or St. Swithin's Day. We have a lot of great articles for your happy December holidays.

Hanukkiah and christmas tree Hanukkah and Christmas

We are happy to present you with the Guide to Hanukkah for Interfaith Families! It's a great introduction to a great little holiday: the history, the symbolism, the spelling--plus handy dreidel game tips. Please let us know whether it is helpful.

Emily Savage grew up in an interfaith family that celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas, in different rooms of her house, as she explains in Neil Diamond, Sugar Cookies and Shiny Plastic Dreidels.

In Rachel Mauro's interfaith family growing up, Christmas was the time when she met Orthodox Jews, as she writes in Christmas with Christians and Jews.

Janet Silver Ghent grew up celebrating Christmas in her Jewish family, but now she and her husband say they're Giving Up Christmas and Celebrating Ourselves. Her adult children are not Jewish and they are not happy.

Jennifer Morris has had a nearly opposite experience, as she describes in Baby's First Christmas.

Nina Amir, the last person I would have suspected of having a secret stash, writes about Taking Out My Ornaments for an Interfaith Family Christmas Gathering

Diana Zankowsky also writes about her mother-in-law in The Gift We Couldn't Refuse, a story that involves an ax.

Ken Hall's holidays are shaped by his Jewish wife's experience, as he writes in A Jewish Grandmother's Christmas Wisdom.


"So," I said, "Do you love her? Would you have married her even if she weren't pregnant?" Pearl Manne is an 86-year-old writer who shared the story of interfaith marriage in the 1950s, A Wedding Without Klezmer.


A Great Educational Opprtunity

The Bronfman Youth Fellowship in Israel offers outstanding Jewish teens from the US and Canada five weeks of all-expenses-paid study, dialogue and travel in Israel. For more information, read their announcement on our Opportunities board. (If you get one of these prestigious fellowships, let us know! We'd love to have you write for IFF about it!)


Ava Charne writes about how her interfaith family discovered just exactly how many Jewish holidays there were in Growing With My Children: A Mother's Reflections.

Julie Wiener's latest In the Mix: Same Sex, Different Faith explains the ways that it's easier and the ways it's harder to parent in a two-mom interfaith family.


December Survey Drawing Winner

We're so pleased to announce the winner of our drawing, chosen at random from the participants in our December Holidays Survey. Stephanie Mahoney of . She was one of over 1000 respondents to the survey! If you haven't read the results, you can download What We Learned from the 2008 December Holidays Survey as a .pdf file. It's also available in Word format.

Israeli bandInterdating

Sissy Block lived in Israel for nine years. Now she's in a serious relationship with a non-Jewish man, and wants to share what was special about Israel to her, at a Jewish cultural event right here in the US. Read more in Getting to Know Judaism Without An Agenda.


Miracle on 34th streetArts and Entertainment

Nate Bloom shares his Top Five Christmas Movies with Major Jewish Connections. He's a big fan of Miracle on 34th Street--both the version with Natalie Wood, shown here, and the 1994 version with child of interfaith marriage Mara Wilson. You should also enjoy Nate's latest update of The Jews Who Wrote Christmas Songs--this time with a famous Christian who wrote Hanukkah songs!

New On the Blogs

Rabbi Lev Baesh blogged about why he gave up Thanksgiving weekend to officiate at two interfaith weddings, in Next Year In Jerusalem Or Could It Be New Hampshire. I shared a new Hanukkah song from the Stephen Colbert Christmas special in Because He's Jon Stewart, and Robin Schwartz wrote about Orthodox views of intermarriage in Real Not Ideal.

If you are thinking about where to direct your last charitable donations of 2008, we'd love for you to think about We're proud to be the organization that doesn't just talk about intermarriage--we listen to the voices of people in interfaith families. In these hard economic times, support from our readers is more important than ever--please click on the donate button if you can help.



Hope you are keeping warm this December!


Ruth Abrams, Managing Editor

Write for Us!

We're looking for writers on the following topics:

  • Better alternatives in Jewish education
  • I am crazy about my in-laws!
  • Thank God you intermarried
  • I'm not Jewish, and this is my favorite Jewish thing
  • Dumb things I wish I hadn't said in earshot of my extended family
  • My parents wanted me to be Jewish, and now they're complaining it's too much | P.O. Box 428, Newton, MA 02464 | 617 581 6860 | | P.O. Box 428, Newton, MA 02464 | 617 581 6860 |

Yiddish for "spin," a four-sided spinning top played with during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. 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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