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electronic newsletter 3-31-09

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March 31, 2009

Dear Friend,

Passover and Easter overlap this year. That was also true of the year of my birth; I was born on an Easter Sunday that fell during Passover, which is probably why I know so many Passover cake recipes.  We have a lot of good resources to help you with your physical and spiritual preparations for these holidays that are theologically and culturally important  for many interfaith families.

Kid eating matzah stock photoPassover Planning

Attending a seder for the first time this year, or planning your own for the first time? We have a Guide to Passover for Interfaith Families that can help. We've also created a Passover Recipes Index to all the Passover recipes on our site. The list includes our new Passover Recipes from the Staff.

If you prefer your introduction to Passover on video, Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben is your man. He's got the low-down in Rabbi Reuben's Ruminations: Passover, What Should You Know? and What Do the Symbols of Passover Mean? You can forward one or both of these to your newbie seder guests and put them at their ease before they walk in the door.

If you are looking for a Passover seder in your area, we're happy to share our listing of Passover Seders 2009.

stock image of girl eating matzahPassover in an Interfaith Family

Sharing Passover in an interfaith family can present both joys and challenges, and we have some articles by writers who have been there and done that. Emily Cappo tells the story of explaining that Hebrew is read from left to right and chopped liver is actually edible in My Husband's First Passover: Old New and Renovated.

Amy Meltzer discusses Keeping Kosher and Keeping It Real in her interfaith marriage--when your partner doesn't keep kosher at all, can you ask him to give up bread, beer and pasta for a week?

Even though Joy Fields can honestly say, We Aren't Religious. At All. No Really, Passover seder traditions are still deeply important to her interfaith family.

Easter lily stock imageEaster In An Interfaith Family

The challenges of the spring holidays aren't all about weird foods at Passover. Sometimes it's hard to be in an interfaith relationship at the most important holiday of the Christian calendar. Cassie Havel Morgenstern describes an Easter she spent alone in an unfamiliar church, trying to connect with God in a new city, in Stranger.

Michael Brent and his wife had worked out all of their conflicts about parenting and Christmas. He didn't even think about the spring holidays as an issue, until his new neighbors invited his family to celebrate with them, in Easter in Front.

shabbat candles stock imageAgnostic and Interfaith

If you are Jewish and your partner is not interested in any religion, how do you connect with being Jewish? For Sue Eisenfeld, a secular, cultural Jew, it's easy, as she writes in Thank God My Husband Is a Former Presbyterian/Quaker Agnostic.

Jannon Stein feels disengaged--it's hard to light Shabbat candles alone. She asks, Can You Call It Interdating When Your Partner is Agnostic?

Hannah Dayan became increasingly traditionally observant of Judaism and had to find a way to make that work in her interfaith marriage, as she writes about Sharing Shabbat With My Non-Religious (and Patient) Husband

Rejected stamp imageInterfaith Marriage and the Reform Movement

Edie Mueller thought she had found her life's work, but there was just one thing about her that got her rejected from rabbinical school, as she explains in Why I'm Not a Rabbi. We would love to hear your thoughts on this one!

baby blocks stock photoBaby Naming

Staci Kennedy's Catholic husband is the most devoted father she can imagine, and fully on board with raising a Jewish daughter. Her synagogue needed to recognize that and welcome both parents to Samantha Caitlyn Kennedy's Jewish Baby Naming.

Rachel Sarah with daughterInterdating

What happens when you're a patrilineal Jew and you only want to date other Jews? Rachel Sarah explores the question in What Do You Mean I'm Not a Jew?

lemon treeJewish Heritage

Many people who are drawn to Judaism find out they have Jewish ancestry. Many of the Italians in the United States came from Calabria, and evidence is emerging that many of their families may have been secret Jews, as Robert Wiener reports in Italian-Americans Seek to Discover Jewish Roots.

jason segelArts and Entertainment

Nate Bloom's latest, Interfaith Celebrities: Jason Segel on the Benefits of Not Fitting In is all about what it's like to grow up in an interfaith family--plus the latest on Nate's favorites, Scarlett Johanssen and Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

pool of waterNew on the Blogs

On The Hitch, IFF's wedding blog, Alx Block is trying to decide whether to take a dip in the mikveh before his interfaith wedding in Water Not Included.

On the IFF Network Blog, Robin Schwartz wrote about her friend Rabbi Hyim Shafner, An Orthodox Rabbi Who Does Not Think Intermarriage is the End of the Jewish World. Micah Sachs reported on whether European Jewish leaders are changing their ways on intermarriage--he thinks perhaps this report was overstated. I wrote about Kosher for Passover Easter Baskets--and how you can make sure that all who are hungry get to eat.

If you have a Facebook account, we'd be thrilled if you followed our new IFF fan page. We're up to 267 fans. Fantastic.



Ruth Abrams, Managing Editor


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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." 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.) 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. 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 "order," refers to the traditional course of events, or service, surrounding the Passover and Tu Bishvat meals.
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