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August 31, 2010 enewsletter

Table of Contents

Featured Events and Organizations from Our Network

High Holidays 2010 on 14th Street

Sim Shalom is hosting free High Holiday services at the New York Theatre Lab in New York on Wednesday, Sept. 8, and Friday, Sept. 17.

August 31, 2010

Dear friend,

Do interfaith families feel as welcome in the Jewish community as in-married families? A few months ago, Steven M. Cohen, a long-time skeptic about interfaith outreach, wrote that they do, and said that education about Jewish life is what they really need. In a joint op-ed, Rabbi Kerry Olitzky of the Jewish Outreach Institute and I contend that while education is needed, the work of welcoming is far from over.

The perfect embodiment of the necessary link between welcoming and education is Karen Kushner, a universally respected veteran in the field of outreach. She's so good, in fact, that we just hired her as our first Chief Education Officer. Karen has written an impressive array of booklets--now available for download on our site, including two about the High Holidays--that demystify the sometimes intimidating character of Jewish rituals and holidays. Karen will direct our Resource Center for Program Providers, offering resources and trainings to help Jewish professionals and volunteers attract and engage--and yes, welcome--interfaith families. With a new Managing Editor starting soon, this coming New Year will see the development of some amazing new resources at

To help you celebrate and understand the Jewish High Holidays (which start next week), we've published some of our best articles on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur--and will continue to do so up until Yom Kippur.

We're also still in the running to receive a grant from the Jewish Federations of North America. To get it, I still need your vote as one of their Jewish Community Heroes.

The Joys of the Holidays

When Samantha Facciolo thinks of the High Holidays, she thinks of her grandmother. Read more in Taking Candy from a Bubbe.

Christian dad Jim Keen reflects on his interfaith family's loosely organized Rosh Hashanah rituals: temple, Tashlich... and brownies.

Three new children's books offer fun, lighthearted windows into Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot and Simchat Torah?plush spiders not included. Read Lynn Melnick's round-up.

The Challenges of the Holidays

As the most synagogue-centric holidays on the calendar, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur can be a minefield of potential problems for interfaith couples. Outreach specialist Robert Calderone explains how you can defuse the situation, in Interfaith Families and the High Holidays: Tips on Preventing Marital Tension.

Case in point: "Here I was, trying to celebrate a holiday I loved, yet I felt alone in the midst of the people I was closest too," writes Enid Weiss in Apples and Chocolate.

Raising an Orthodox son in an interfaith home has worked well so far, but what happens when he gets older and is preparing for his bar mitzvah? Read more in Birger Stamperdahl's Highs and Lows: A Non-Jewish Husband's Take on the Jewish New Year.

In 2003's Finding a Home, Rachel Barenblat recounts her frustration at her inability to find a comfortable home synagogue for the High Holidays?and her determination to find one by the following fall.

High Holiday Cooking

Looking for a good honey cake recipe? How about three? Brisket? Check. Make-ahead recipes for Yom Kippur? We got that too. Peruse an index to all the High Holidays recipes we've ever published on

And for a few more recipes?a complete Rosh Hashanah menu for a large party, actually?see Andrea Carneiro's Seven Rosh Hashanah Recipes for Eight People (Or More).

New Rituals

Rabbi Barbara Aeillo thought she knew every off-the-beaten-path holiday ritual?until she got a job in Italy. In The Rosh Hashanah Seder: Who Knew?, she offers a guide to this brief, food-based ceremony.

Popular Culture

The Toronto International Film Festival, New York's Fashion Week, London's Fashion Week?they all conflict with the High Holidays. At least you can take solace in classic Jewish songs sung by African-American music legends, on the new album, "Black Sabbath." Read more in Nate Bloom's latest column.

Interfaith Survey

The Jewish Outreach Institute is conducting a survey of people in their 20s and 30s who have one Jewish parent and one non-Jewish parent. If you fit this profile, I encourage you to take the survey and help JOI with their important work.

From everyone at, we wish you a sweet, happy and healthy New Year.


Edmund Case, CEO | P.O. Box 428, Newton, MA 02464 | 617 581 6860 |


Hebrew for "Head of the Year," the Jewish New Year. With Yom Kippur, known as the High Holy Days. Hebrew for "Joy of Torah," a fall holiday that celebrates the completion of the yearlong Torah cycle and the commencement of a new one. 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 "Day of Atonement," the final of ten Days of Awe that begin with Rosh Hashanah. Occurs during the fall and is marked by a 24-hour fast. One of the most important Jewish holidays. 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." 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.
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